Thanks Squirrel

I woke up around 11 this morning. I noticed that a feeling had made a home in my psyche, but I was at a loss when trying to give it a name. I began to take in my surroundings as I lie in my extremely small and stiff Twin XL bed inside my college apartment. All the blinds were closed, but a golden glow, that told of a morning turning into an afternoon, was seeping through and creating a line pattern on my wall, and on my face. As serene as it was… it was eerie.

I began to notice a depression. Usually, my feelings of depression are accompanied by anger and withdrawal, but this particular morning was different. Each sound I heard was amplified. The humming of my refrigerator, the sound of a shower being turned on next-door, the soft rustling sound of my eyelashes against my pillow each time a blinked. I was not angry, but I  didn’t  feel good.

I am beginning to realize how important it is to sit with your feelings. But I never realized, until this morning, that the feelings you are  forced to sit with, are not always clear to you. You have to sit with a nameless emotion. For what seemed to be the first time in my life I accepted the unknown and got out of bed. I brushed my teeth, put on my favorite T shirt and made the decision to go for a walk. However I was not going to walk alone. This no-name emotion was going to come with me.

I soon knew exactly where this walk would lead me. My Social Work class is in a building over 1 mile away, and each Wednesday when I walk there, I notice the sound of a fountain that seems to come form behind some trees. The rest of that mile walk usually involves me wondering why I didn’t stop to investigate. But today was the day I (and ole’ no name) was finally going to do it.

On my way there I let the muscles in my shoulders and face relax as I walked. Tension is not a tool. As I neared the spot where the fountain was, I was lost in cyclical thoughts. But something jolted me out of that immediately. The fast pace rhythm of my feet and my cyclical thoughts distracted me enough to where I almost stepped right into a dead and decaying squirrel. There were flies on its eyeballs and I think one of its feet was gone. And if I’m not mistaken, it twitched. I quickly moved my foot, that was barely one inch from touching it, and shrieked out a noise that startled the birds in the tree above me. After I knew my foot was safe and had not been contaminated by squirrel corpse, I gagged and cried a little bit to myself.

It is a therapeutic tool to pinch yourself or snap a rubber band every time you have a bad thought as a way of learning new thinking patterns, but I  have never really been a fan of this. Because why the hell would I want to snap a rubber band on my wrist. However, I didn’t know what to replace it with. NOW. I. KNOW. Every time your girl Liv thinks bad thoughts, she is going to imagine, in vivid detail, a squirrel corpse. If this walk brought me nothing else, it was this new and highly effective therapeutic tool. But… this walk did bring me more than that.

I had reached the fountain. It was on a little bit of a hill behind the university’s graphic art building. The fountain and the pool beneath it were a beautiful shade of blue. The noon day sun was shining through lush trees that surrounded it, creating subtle shadows on the water. No one else was in this new little world I had discovered so I picked a bench and sat down. I forced myself to do nothing while sitting there. “Do not pick up your phone. Do not listen to music. Do not even count the people walking by”. Being content while doing nothing is something I really struggle with. I lasted 10 minutes. And, in that ten minutes, I did not push anyone away, or plan out how many calories I was going to eat, or make a mental to do list for the day. I did however, imagine myself dancing in the fountain to the Friends theme song and I stopped a few negative thoughts by imagining that damn squirrel.

I did so much for myself by just sitting and being.

The next time I visit the fountain I am going to do nothing for 11 minutes instead of ten. And I swear to God, if that squirrel is still there I am calling the police.

~Liv

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