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Posted on January 8th, 2019

The Geography of My Mind – Stress

I’ve always heard that you get a numbness in your left arm before a heart attack. I’ve been having numbness in my left arm for weeks now (and a strained neck on the left side), so I guess I’ve got a big one coming. I’m hoping it’s actually just a symptom of a bad pillow as I think mine finally gave out – don’t worry, I have a new one in the mail as we speak. I’ll let you know if that’s it; that is unless I do have a heart attack and die. If so, you probably won’t hear from me again. And while I know the pillow plays some role in the neck issue (which, again, I hope is related to the arm dullness), I think I actually have to admit that there is some stress in my life, which is odd, because that has never been something that has reared its head for me before. I use to always quip that I only stressed over the things not worth stressing over (bad drivers, getting a bad orange at the grocery store, etc.), and not be phased by the real stressors in life (work, politics, relationships, etc.), and I think that was true, at least for a while. Or maybe it was simply as a younger man I could carry the stress better or its impact wasn’t felt to any degree. Now, perhaps, there has been an accumulating effect that has built up so much so that my now middle-aged body is starting to show the weight of stressors. So, what are the things that cause me stress, and are probably contributing to this heart attack (or stroke, or aneurysm, or whatever is going on in my left arm)?

Work: Now, day-to-day, I cannot really isolate any one thing; there is nothing I really dread doing or find taxing or overwhelming, but there are always petty frustrations, and most of those are brought on by other people. For instance, I’m expected to meet the oftentimes inane standards and expectations of my external peer network, and that is often a frustrating dance, but that isn’t too overbearing. My internal colleagues, well, some of them think in a very antiquated way and try to impose their beliefs on me, and that never works. I always feel that if I’m carrying my load (and then some), meeting all the expectations and duties of the job, then how I do it is up to me. So, I don’t know that work is a factor, even though some of my co-workers can drive me bonkers.

Friends: I only include this in here because it is a category that has to be attended too, and despite the fact that none of my closest friends live anywhere near me, I still have several good friends here that I see often enough that I don’t feel socially isolated – though I’m actually the kind of person who likes to be socially isolated, so maybe I’m seeing too much of them?

Family: Well, I don’t really keep in constant contact with too many members of my family, though those I do can be stress-inducing at times, even if minimally. Mostly it is due to the frequent, and endless, rounds of unsolicited advice, the directives and suggestions that I should do this, that or the other, or why haven’t I considered this, or if I were you I would do this… It gets old. No, it got old decades ago. Now it just pisses me off. My armhairs stand up, by blood boils, my fire churns, but then it’s mostly over after the phone call or interaction. I come to a boil quite quickly, but I also cool down rather quickly as well – that should be helpful, shouldn’t it?

Relationships: I have to admit, and as you all know who read these monthlies, this isn’t a strong suit of mine. Oh, I’ve had more than enough relationships (most short and scattered), and I don’t know what type of relationship I’m looking for or hoping to find – though I do know I haven’t found it – but, this is a struggle, but again, not something I’m losing sleep over. In fact, I think my “ideal” relationship is less of a blissful monogamous romp than it is a casual, steamy affair extended over time without ever reaching its climax (well, certainly reaching that climax multiple times over the course of the interactions, but I digress…), its coupling that so many long for. I guess I’m looking for it to evolve to a certain stunted adolescence and then hang there in suspended animation without any further evolution; that way the physical is attended to, and the emotional is to a degree, but not so much so as to consume me. So, maybe this is mildly stressing that what I search for seems out of reach, but not really

Well, what does that leave then? Oh, shit, me! I’m the cause of my stress! But how? Why? If my personal and professional relationships aren’t getting me down, I’m mostly healthy (I eat well and exercise often), then what could it be? Is it genetics? Is it the state of world affairs? While well-aware of the climate of things, and often troubled by it, I don’t feel that it has washed over me like a riptide wave sucking me under – yet. Maybe I’m simply sick of myself. I’m stressing myself out just by being me. So, how do I respond to that? Do I go into mediation with myself?

I go into nature and hike for a while, listen to music or go to a concert, maybe just veg out and read – that’s how I mediate the stress in my life. Maybe I need to do all of that more. The strange thing is, I just can’t isolate any one thing or collection of things that I could correct, yet this numbness in my arm persists. Maybe it’s psychosomatic; that’s often true with much of our pain – we have to store it somewhere. People get unnecessary surgeries, on their backs for instance, which can really be cured with a little introspection, maybe some talk therapy, finding where the real issue is buried. But then again, our bodies are designed to breakdown, and maybe that’s simply where I’m at: this ain’t stress, this is the last lap. See you at the finish line, then, I guess.

Marco Esquandoles
Stressed Out

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