It isn’t easy to open the self up and come out of the closet. However, I have recently been compelled to do that. For a reason I can’t quite identify, I have come to terms with the fact that I can no longer be ashamed of something I have dealt with and hidden for many years.
I have an anxiety disorder.
Just typing that out and knowing I intend to post this in a public format makes me want to break out in to a sweat and start freaking out. But, I can’t do that any longer. I cannot continue to hide something that I have, at times, been made to feel like is a dirty little secret. What? Being a human is dirty? Well, not tonight. No, tonight it is a moment of reckoning. A moment of freedom and accountability. Because something I say here may not only help another gain perspective, it may also help me. And perspective is what I crave the most.
I’ve known for years that I was anxious; always questioning myself and feeling fearful of failure or what someone else may think of something I have said or done. I’ve known myself to be over apologetic for ridiculous missteps and hardly noticeable follies. However, I held on to them and thought my life was over because I made a mistake or didn’t do what everyone needed me to do; disappointing them enough to forget about me completely. And, when I have made legitimate, apology-worth fumbles, saying “I’m sorry” was never enough. I sent myself in to days, weeks, sometimes months of mourning the inevitable loss of the relationship or situation I had wronged. Spending hours going through the scenario in my mind until everything was a big, gross, blurry mess of what actually happened and the worst possible outcome of what could have happened.
And this is where my anxiety cup cake sprinkled with abandonment issues really takes form.
Nearly three years ago I developed a tremor in my hands. They would shake and sometimes interrupt daily activity such as applying makeup or pouring a cup of coffee. I saw my doctor and started a medication to help alleviate the shakes. Finally, I saw a neurologist to rule out any other major causes. After the test confirmed I didn’t have any diseases, I was referred to therapy. “Oh no! I’m crazy” I thought as I dove into a sea of black, swirling anxiety. I thought it was the moment when everyone would figure out that I wasn’t worth the trouble and just walk away. Anxiety never travels alone and she always brings her good friend Abandonment on my head trips.
After some couch time with my therapist and some hours of conversations with my closest friends and family, I came to the conclusion that while I do have anxiety and abandonment issues, I am not alone in my crazy. And it did help to hear stories from others. To understand that their issues may be similar to mine or something else like anger management or OCD, depression, and generalized fear of everything, was relieving in a sense that I am not alone. Not alone in issues and not alone in relationships. After coming out to them, not a single person considered me worthless, ugly, unfit, or unwell. In fact, a lot of my relationships got stronger because I was able to say “I’m sorry I’m always scared you will leave me, but I love you and I need and want you in my life”. And to them I promised to fight my trust issues and believe them when they say “I love you”. Because what had any of these people done but love me prior to giving, what they already seen, a name? They loved me. Loved me through the scariest moments, darkest nights, toxic periods, and still stuck by my side.
I’ve been able to do a lot of tracing back to root causes of these issues. Going back to small moments in childhood to very large, significant moments that changed the way my brain rationalized and compartmentalized things. And some days I feel in control and calm while other days feel like if you were prick the thoughts from my brain it would look like Picasso and Dali shared a wild night in Vegas; segmented, chopped, dripping, oozing thoughts tangled up in my mind so tightly that if someone were to touch my hand I could jump across the room. And some days, when I feel like the world is just too much and I don’t want to deal, I have made the mistakes. Big ones – like trying to completely push someone away because I’m too fearful that I will lose them. And then the next day, after I go over the conversation or read the texts, I wonder what in the hell I was thinking.
Reading over that last sentence scares me. What will someone think of me now? Well, I can’t control that and I can only be honest with myself. I choose it from now on.
I don’t know if what I say here will strike a chord with anyone, but I do know it helps me. I’m going to be okay with this anxiety. I am going to survive what life drops on my doorstep. I cannot live a life ashamed of who I am, of the quirks and weird aspects of myself. I cannot live under a rock because I feel it will make someone else more comfortable. I will not disappear and I will not self sabotage.
“To thine own self be true…”