(content warning: anxiety)
I reach for my phone. 9:30 am. Still enough time to get up and make breakfast before therapy. Wesley lies beside me, and light flows through the cracks around the edge of the curtain, illuminating their face with the sweetest softness. I alternate between looking at social media and at their face.
The eggs in the fridge are being stored in a large tray - I grab two and hesitantly place them on the table, but as I'm collecting other breakfast ingredients, an egg rolls onto the floor. How do people clean up broken eggs? I grab a plate and spoon some goop from the floor onto the plate, which seems to work well enough to wipe the rest down with a cloth.
I tell my therapist I've been thinking about the difference between setting boundaries and ultimatums, and she says part of setting boundaries is acknowledging the other person's needs and expressing a desire to accommodate them. I don't know if I agree with this. She says that avoiding situations where I feel anxious can be good if they're unhealthy environments, but warns that avoidance also often fuels anxiety. I wish that managing anxiety wasn't so complicated, and I wish to be kinder to myself when I'm anxious. My therapist recommends I join a group therapy class to practice feeling less shame around anxious thoughts -- "the class might have pretty basic material for you, but it could be good for the community aspect".
Wesley comes into my room while I'm working, and they see me crying. "Do you want to talk about it?" "I don't... know what to talk about. My body just feels overwhelmed." They wrap me in their arms for a while.
I wander upstairs to a common space decorated with string lights and hanging tapestries, lay out a yoga mat, and move through some poses to the rhythm of music playing from my phone. A weird pain shoots through my left wrist, so I switch to balance poses. When I stand in tree pose, I imagine there are roots growing from my belly button and through my leg into the floor.
I'm tired and lightheaded and hungry and the thought of figuring out what to eat feels overwhelmingly daunting. In a wave of shame for having trouble feeding myself, I burst into tears, which only delays my meal further. Eventually, I muster up some determination to do something. I ask Wesley to help me buy food and they walk me to World of Noodle to get a sandwich. While we wait, they do a spoonerism: "Norld of Woodle". The internet says Woodle is a poodle cross-breed.
Two housemates are chatting in the kitchen as they unload groceries, and as I walk in, they're transferring eggs from a carton to the egg tray. Now's my chance! I tell the tale of the egg fiasco from the morning and move the eggs back into the carton.
My mind feels cluttered so I organize the spaces around me. Framed poetry decorated with silver and gold and otters and butterflies go up onto the walls of my new bedroom. The hammer and nails move from my desk to their home in the laundry room. I poke through the items in the laundry room and take inventory: four toolkits, three drills, a survival kit, and a bedsheet depicting dozens of tiny llamas.
My housemates and I watch more episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender. We hear one of my favorites quotes from the show: "You must never give in to despair. Allow yourself to slip down that road and you surrender to your lowest instincts. In the darkest times, hope is something you give yourself. That is the meaning of inner strength." I fall asleep in Wesley's arms twice - the first time surrounded by pillows and people talking about philosophy, and the second time in my bed surrounded by tissues soaked in my tears.