anxiety

I’ve had anxiety issues all of my life. I believe they originated in childhood. Growing up with parents who had physical fights after loud and long screaming arguments and who would move you from one state to another at the drop of a hat probably created some of my insecurity issues. My childhood wasn’t built on anything solid. It was built on fear. My younger brother and I spent a fair amount of time wondering when the shit would hit the fan next time and trying to plan out what our strategy would be for handling that. Would we call the police and risk getting into trouble? Or would he handle trying to keep them from killing each other while I took our little sister somewhere so she wouldn’t hear? Or would we just all run away?
At one point or another, we tried them all.
Flash forward to Hawaii, where we moved when I was a chubby, frizzy haired, freckle faced, redheaded ten year old. Hawaii is beautiful and I know so many people there who are also beautiful, both inside and out – but going to school in Hawaii as a little white girl is scary. You’re a haole and it brings out the bullies. Going to school every day was about survival. It was about knowing when to go to the bathroom, where to hide during lunch and which girls not to make eye contact with. And no sooner than my mother decided to “home school” us, our house burned down and we lost literally everything we owned.
Are you catching the theme of instability?
By the time I was in my late teens, I trusted absolutely nothing. I didn’t trust employment or people and the idea that I was ever safe from anything was ridiculous. Going to the grocery store I would check my wallet a half a dozen times to make sure my card was in there. And then checking out, I’d break out in a sweat thinking that it would be denied even though I had checked the balance right before I got there. Anyone I dated was cheating on me, would hit me, and eventually would leave me. I was never relaxed, never believed anything would last. I was terrified that I would lose my job and the girls and I would be homeless. It kept me up at night, planning out what I would pack, what I would abandon, what I would tell the children. Even social outings would render me so full of anxiety that I would sit in my car staring at the door and trying to work up the nerve to just walk in. Sometimes I couldn’t.
One day, in my twenties, I decided I was done. I was done being afraid. I was done living every single day wondering when the bottom would fall out. I was done. This was my life. I was reclaiming it. I was not going to be in a prison of fear anymore. Starting right then and there, I would look that anxiety in the face and walk right past it. It was the bravest I’d ever been. It took absolutely everything I had in me. And slowly, oh my god so very fucking slowly, I was able to climb up and out of that hole. It was like I had to show my brain that each thing wasn’t scary by doing it a dozen times before it was removed from the terror list. It was awful and it took years. And even now, in my mid thirties I still run into times where anxiety will creep in and consume me, occasionally for seemingly no reason at all.
One of my guilty pleasures now is being able to laugh at myself. I forgot my credit card in the car? I’m sorry, how crazy. Please go ahead and suspend my grocery transaction and I’ll go get it. Falling down in front of everyone? Ha! SO WHAT? Forgetting my badge for work. So annoying but not the end of the world. Small things. Small drops in a bucket and they can only take the amount of attention that I give them. Some things deserve a little bit of concern and I have to give them that or become entirely numb, but not everything. So when I feel like I am being apprehensive about something, like the drive to Connecticut that begins in the morning, I have to forgive myself a little bit. Being nervous is ok. I am allowed to be worried. The Ginger Chick from ten years ago could not have done it. She wouldn’t have been able to sleep for all of the freaking out about every single possible scenario. She would have needed so much xanax. But this Ginger Chick? She can.

One thought on “anxiety

  1. All the mom points in all the world go to you this summer. <3

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