So. So I was lucky enough to land a phlebotomist job that pays handsomely. I felt very blessed by the-literally-hundreds of prayers and well-wishes that supported me through the interview process. But the job has a major drawback. I travel to different nursing homes to draw blood. My daily commute is now 177.87 miles.
That’s a lot of driving. And let me tell you a secret, sports fans: I hate to drive. Driving gives me panic attacks. And these nursing homes are deep in the country, out where the cell phone doesn’t ring. If anything goes wrong, I’m totally on my own. That does not help the panic attacks.
And I’m driving twisty turn-y back country roads, so getting lost is something that happens, too. (But less today, as my route is finally getting into my muscle memory.) But, needless to say, adapting to my new job has been stressful. Highly stressful. Did I also mention that I need to stick patients very quickly to stay on schedule? or that I must fight morning traffic to get back to our office in Pittsburgh to drop off the blood? Yeah, that, too.
So I had to think of ways to make the drive less stressful.
Last night I listened to J. S. Bach Chorales and said the rosary over and over. I focused on the Sorrowful Mysteries, if you are interested. It helped a great deal. My dear friend and teacher suggested I give the Luminous Mysteries, instated by Pope John Paul II a whirl, too. I think I shall look them up and give them a try.
But trying to outwit my anxiety makes me think of how anxiety works. Anxiety thrives when we fall too deeply into ourselves. It thrives on silence and solitude. And anxiety loves the darkness. Saying the rosary lifts me up out of myself, it lifts my spirit up. The darkness ceases to be ominous, it becomes close and holy darkness. The silence, when filled with prayer and contemplation, ceases to menace. The solitude of my drive becomes nurturing.
As spiritual practice goes, saying the rosary is not particularly rigorous, but it is enough. And it nourishes the parts of me that still adore the Roman Catholic Church. Tonight to feed my Pagan parts, I shall pull a card from my beloved Stone Circle Oracle Deck and contemplate that while driving.
Anxiety is such a beast for so many of us, and there are very few simple fixes. I’m grateful I’ve stumbled upon something that works for me. I’m trying very hard to let my hopes outweigh my fears as I struggle again to rejoin the land of the living. I really feel that I have walked that Proverbial ‘Valley of Shadow’ and I finally feel that I am beginning to see a light.
I am placing so much hope in that faint light. And in J. S. Bach, but we know he stands up well.