Conversation with…An Older Sponge I Met Once Before…No longer trusting her physical capabilities

Over the Hill on the Yellow Brick Road, I was feeling anxious. It was a hot day and I forgot to drink a lot of water, so my mouth was dry. I couldn’t accept the fact that dry mouth could be a normal reaction to slight dehydration. I thought my tongue was no longer working properly and I was going to die.  I was obsessing with it. That’s what happens to me sometimes as I feel myself growing older. I don’t trust my body to get its act together and move on. So I kept walking in a panic and passed a spa. I decided to stop in and try to calm myself down. I was heading to the spa café, when floating around nervously in a hot tub, I noticed a sponge I’d met once before. I wandered over and asked:

sponge in hot tub

Hey sponge, do you remember me?

SPONGE: Yeah. We met when I was soaking up sadness from other peoples’ lives and wondering if I was crazy.

Right. So what are you doing here in the hot tub?

SPONGE: I’m trying to calm myself down because I’m scared! I’m anxious! Every day I obsess with a different symptom and I can’t pull myself out of it! I don’t trust myself to get well anymore! Because I’m getting older!

Me too! A few days ago, I had a headache and thought something was wrong inside my brain. I got over that, but the next day I ate some broccoli and a small piece got stuck in my throat. I thought it would never go down because my throat was too old to push it and I’d stop breathing. Today I have dry mouth, and yesterday–

SPONGE: Don’t tell me any more of your symptoms. I’m suggestable. I’ll think I have them too and sink deeper into my sponge holes.

Why do you think we’re panicking now?  What clicked in our brains to make us distrust our physical selves??

SPONGE: Maybe we’re looking at situations around us differently, with an older eye. It’s not always pretty.

How do you mean?

SPONGE: Well, I don’t know about you, but I had a terrible Mother’s Day. My adult children were too busy to come and visit me. I feel like I don’t matter anymore. Maybe I shouldn’t even be here. I think that’s why I start thinking all these things are wrong with me physically.

I think you’re on to something. Like, since I’m older, I’ve decided it requires more effort to be sure people take me seriously the way they used to. I feel less useful and my world of possibilities is smaller. It makes me so sad. Maybe I shouldn’t even be here. That brings on the symptoms of doom. They’re based in deep sadness.

SPONGE: Well as I said, that’s why I’m in this hot tub. I comfort myself by floating around in here for weeks. The problem is, it’s not good for me. The more I sit in here, the deeper I sink and the heavier I get. When I’m heavier, it’s harder to get myself back on track. I’m all sogged-out.

I do the same thing with food. I eat because it’s comforting. But when I keep eating and eating and eating, even though I love it because food is so delicious, it makes me heavier and lethargic, and it’s much harder to get back on track. The food sits in my stomach longer and I gain weight much more easily these days.

SPONGE: So what can we do to calm ourselves down in a healthy way when we’re older?

Take medication?

SPONGE: Nope. Hate that stuff.

Me too. I won’t even take Advil.  Meditate? Or go for a walk?

SPONGE: When I’m in a panic mode, I can’t get myself to do that.

Me neither. Try tapping methods?

SPONGE: Nope. When I’m in a panic, I can’t pull it together.

Same here. Get a massage? With oils?

SPONGE: Not happening.

Acupuncture? Physical therapy?? Go to a chiropractor???

SPONGE: Nope, nope and nope.

So… you think there’s no way to make ourselves feel better when we’re anxious in older age?

SPONGE: I don’t know! I guess some conversations just can’t end with comforting answers.

I guess not…

_____________________________________________

With that, I told the sponge I’d catch up with her later. I wished her well, and just before I left, we embraced. Oddly, the sponge immediately felt better. By wrapping my arms around the sponge, I’d squeezed all the water out of her. All the water that was weighing her down. She felt refreshed. Temporarily. And so…I guess I can say… sometimes, the best cure for anxiety in older age is simply…a hug.

How do you make yourself less crazy?

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88 thoughts on “Conversation with…An Older Sponge I Met Once Before…No longer trusting her physical capabilities

  1. Wow. That was so profound! I was just reading “Highly Sensitive People”. The gist of the book is some people are born with very highly tuned emotional, sensorial and psychic sensitivity. These feelings run amok if, as an infant, one was not held enough in the mother’s arms to learn how to calm yourself down when overstimulated. Therefore, you live a life overstimulated without having the ability to relax.
    So, the sponge pretty much summed that up. We are psychically in synch. No surprise!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Exercise. Art. Cleaning out a closet.

    My body is not as able as it was, but my mind is better. I think I have taken a turn away from the downward section of my life (Crossing fingers I am not jinxing). Not that things are perfect, but I do I am living the time of life I was meant for, I think. After feeling out of sync as a teenager, 20 30 40 year old, 50, well, I have arrived. I feel lucky. But that is just me.

    Love how you explore these issues with such humor and grace.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. You wrote so beautifully that I don’t even have words to appreciate it properly.
    You are right here, we sometimes just need a hug that makes us feel that everything is right and if it is not, it will be very soon.
    Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Cathi. I’m sorry you and sponge are having a tough time. If virtual hugs will help, feel yourself receiving one.
    I’m an organizer and planner so, for me, cleaning out anything or planning for something positive in the future always helps. And that currently includes planning for how I’m going to lose weight.
    Time outdoors helps, as does time spent with a friend.
    When I first retired, the burnout I’d experienced in my work made me quite sure that I was going to die young and never have the opportunity to live my life. It took more than a year for that fear to dissipate and, at stressful times, it returns. But I’m starting to recognize that it’s just a message that there’s something I need to pay attention to. Sometimes it’s that I need to take the time to figure out what I really want and not just let the days drift by. Sometimes it’s that I’m flogging myself the way I used to do when working and I need to exercise a bit more self-care and maybe even get some real sleep! Maybe trying to figure out what’s behind this worry of physical decline will help. Consider asking yourself Byron Katie’s four questions:
    1. Is it true?
    2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
    3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
    4. Who would you be without the thought?
    Best wishes, Cathi. This too shall pass.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hi Karen, Wow. After reading your amazing comment, I feel as if I’ve just had a great therapy session. 🙂 The words that meant the most to me were, “But I’m starting to recognize that it’s just a message that there’s something I need to pay attention to.” Yes! I believe there’s something powerful underneath the “crazy” thoughts at times! I also identified with Byron Katie’s four questions–they are spot on. I printed out your comment and will refer to it often. Coincidentally, you used my favorite phrase, “This too shall pass.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Elaine, I’m sure you already know how much it means to me that you bought my book and enjoyed it.!!!! As one artist to another, there is no greater compliment. If you’re comfortable doing this, might you be okay about cut and pasting the last two sentences of your comment on Amazon.com? (Or, cut and paste all three sentences, but in the first sentence replace the word “your” with “this” and take out the word “Cathi.” The reason is, Amazon has become very particular about the people who write reviews (fearing some of them are fake), so I suppose it’s better that you appear to be a random customer. )But!!!! No pressure! I know some people are not comfortable doing this sort of thing and I totally and completely understand that! In fact, we never have to discuss this again. Let’s move on to our creative work. And I must say, as I mentioned in earlier comments, I hope you’re considering turning your wonderful characters into a book for children. I would love to have that on my shelf. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  5. When I feel this way, I try very hard to have a real connection with someone else (like a hug, or just a “real” conversation or even sharing a joke) and that helps. The other thing that helps is to get out and actually do something useful, because that reminds me that I still do have a lot to contribute.
    Thanks for writing about this, as I think lethargy and depression are very real for many people, and come much easier as we age in our youth-obsessed culture. We have to be honest about the hard stuff in order to deal with it effectively.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Hubs and I wake up every morning with the “pain de jour”. Then we hug each other and everything seems to be a little more bearable and even sometimes funny. I think you are on to something with the hug….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love this, Cathi! A hug really is sometimes all we need – and I´m so glad the sponge felt better afterwards. 😉 The same sadness and lethargy can also come from chronic illness and disease and it really is tough getting yourself out of that. I´m not going into my troubles now, but I find that distracting, distracting, distracting… really helps, even if therapists don’t agree with that. So I bake, I sing, I paint, I read… you get the drive. 😉 Sending you many hugs to cheer you up! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Your Future Self Needs Your Help - Profound Journey

  9. I wish I know how to make myself less crazy! funny, I had a headache this morning and of course thoughts go round in my head. But when things have actually happened to you, you become so aware that it can happen and does. And as we age, our bodies just work differently. Hard to accept. As one who has always had issues with food, I relate to what you say about that too.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yea, it went away. It’s just that I used to get these headaches regularly, and they used to last for 3 days. Haven’t had one in something like 18 years, and in the last week I’ve almost had 2. I have always been a worrier. I will call myself that cause it borders on but probably isn’t quite being a hypochondriac. I think they really believe, I just worry. But when I read your writing, I really mean it, you could be describing me.

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  10. OMG..the sponge! This is so funny and beautifully true…and sad and scary. Anxiety is my personal nemesis! Cardio, yoga, meditation, journaling and reading amazing work like this helps calm my panic during negative, delusional, distorted thought attacks. Thanks for a great read! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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