Help when you’re caught in a sticky web

Have you ever been in such a spin from your inner terror/ panic/ anxiety that you feel like you’re a bug ensnared in a sticky web… with no way out?

You may be able to distract yourself at moments with a good book, friend, or movie. But little things like an election sign, horn honking, or a certain song can trap you back in the web.

I was there before the election. Lifelong terrors felt imminent. The fact that I was safe in the moment made no difference to my clenching stomach, racing heartbeat, and blood pressure.

I was so enmeshed, my anxiety toolkit seemed useless. I didn’t have any perspective to hold onto out of the spin… even if I looked fine to others.

I was also pretty isolated in my fear. I didn’t want to activate anyone else’s anxiety so I was navigating without much help, which made it easier to spiral.

It feels like all of you, but it’s not.

I’ve been working for decades on my inner terrified child. Intergenerational trauma plus my family’s…let’s just call it inconsistency, built me into a hypervigilant person. My growth work reminded me how I can be present to others as an adult, and then use my inner grown up to soothe myself.

If you’ve done some of this inner work yourself, you may know what I’m talking about. There are many parts of us that may lead the way, or hide, or stomp on the brakes, muddling the path.

But I forgot all that when I was drowning in terror earlier this month. It was hard to escape an imagined reign of hate from very scared and powerful people. Should I move to some imagined safe place (did it exist?), build a bunker—really nothing I thought of could even provide an illusion of safety, and none of it was happening at the moment. It was all in my body and mind.

Even though I couldn’t address or escape present time events activating my fear, I decided to soothe that inner child anyway. I figured she was still part of the pinball tilt, and what harm could it do?

I put a hand on my belly, and held the scared little girl inside with compassion. I was surprised to find I was soon soothing all the parts of me that were terrified, young or old.

Not Alone

And that activated the inner grounded aspect—well hidden but there—that could hold a bigger picture….

…That part that knows that I am one tiny speck in the ginormous universe. 

…That remembers the feeling of love. 

…That actively connects to the awareness of each and every aspect of the earth.

…That appreciates being warm on cold nights, having a loving family, and work that gives me joy.

Grateful from connecting to my inner self, I could stop the spin and gain a new perspective.

The grounded part could help me ask others how they were managing, and start to feel part of a community. I remembered a community with the parts of myself, and with other humans riding this wild wave of life.

Take a moment to practice connecting to this yourself.

Put a hand on your heart, belly, or back of your neck (or imagine that), and tell your frightened little one that you care… that you’re not alone… that you’re safe… that you may feel the pain and fear of the world but your spin stories are just stories in this moment.

Despite fear’s insistence that you must follow its lead, you’ll breathe better, be more present, and think better when you are able to soothe your scared little one. To release the web. Because we’re not alone.

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