Well, I have. And it's an amazing feeling.
That leap was a last-ditch effort to rid myself of shyness, which had been seriously trashing my life since I was a kid. Finally, at 62 and semi retired, I could see that if I didn't take this last opportunity to cure myself, I never would.
I started out by attending Ron Stewart's poetry workshop, which would have been a simple thing for most people, but not for me. It took months of steeling myself up. Then, when I finally got used to that, I threw myself into the most extreme fear-causing role I could imagine, that of organizer of a new poetry series, London Open Mic Poetry Night. I thought it would probably be far too big of a leap for me, and yes, for the next four years my anxiety was very high, nearly unbearable at times.
But that social organizing did miraculously rid me of most of my shyness. However I was very disappointed to find that I was left with a generalized anxiety, and assumed I would be stuck with it for the rest of my life.
I had pushed myself through those four seasons with sheer determination, but anxiety-driven willpower doesn't help a person get to sleep at night. At some point, I began taking a sleeping pill. And, as sleeping pills do, it slowly lost it's effectiveness, forcing me to increase the dosage continually. Finally, a couple months ago, I decided to get off of it. To do that, my doctor said, I would have to decrease the dosage by a quarter pill a week, while taking melatonin, which would make up for the difference. Well, I finally did get down to hardly anything, just a quarter pill a night, only to find that to go from that to none is very nearly impossible. My body had come to rely on it to get me to sleep.
That was ten days ago. For these last ten nights I've gone without a single good night's sleep as I tried to force myself to fall asleep naturally. Until last night. I was reading an easy spy novel in bed and suddenly woke up four hours later! I was so excited I didn't think I would be able to fall back to sleep at all, but in an hour I was zonked out for another three!
And another good sign: at our special indigenous poetry open mic two days ago, when I began to read my poem during the open mic section, the sheet of paper I was holding didn't shake at all! For the first time it was totally still. Always before at least my left hand would shake. And usually my right would as well, with the least bit of anxiety. (This is called familial tremors, inherited from my mother.) Suffice it to say I was astonished. I very nearly lost my place in the poem just from watching that paper not move.
Another thing that has done wonders for my anxiety lately is suddenly having more people working with me on this endless poetry project. This last couple of weeks, I've been feeling quite strongly that making it go isn't all up to me anymore. They're taking a lot of weight off my shoulders. They're even coming up with ideas on their own. And carrying them out. There's nothing more wonderful than discovering that others have met and discussed a project without me even knowing about it!