To the Anxiety Monster.
So. You’re still around then. I have to admit you had me there for a while, I thought you’d finally got bored and done one because I’ve not noticed you so much recently. I’ve been busy you see, busy rebuilding my life again, busy being happy and looking forward. And I know that’s not your scene. You prefer the company of those you can manipulate and control. I give you some credit for your perseverance though – Your leech-like grip is pretty impressive. In the past I’ve tried to just ignore you – I thought that giving you the cold shoulder and denying your existence might hurt your feelings enough for you to slither away. But now, now I’m just a bit too hacked off that you’ve turned up again unannounced. We both know the affect you have on me – the knots in my stomach, the racing heart and the crippling fear. The nausea is often so overwhelming that I sometimes mistake it for the onset of a tummy bug. And although distraction helps, pretending you don’t exist doesn’t. Instead it makes people confused and think I’m just highly strung. So I’m not going to ignore you today. I’m choosing to look you, yes you Anxiety, in the eyes and tell you what I really think of you. Something I’ve wanted to do for a while.
I have to admit, I thought about you quite a bit this morning. I reflected on how well you know my weak spots, where I’m most vulnerable to your cheap shots. You, rather astutely, don’t waste your time with my inability to cook food without blackening it. You’ve watched from the shadows how I laugh along with everyone else as they marvel at my burnt offerings. You don’t bat an eyelid at my wobbly mummy tummy. Of course I’d love to be trimmer and I’m working on it, but from the dark corners you’ve heard the loving and kind words from my husband about my body. But hurts from my past – now that gets your attention doesn’t it? You were in your element back then – when I was plagued with fear and an overwhelming frustration of being powerless over the mess I was caught in the middle of. Even as I grew stronger and started to really live again, your ugly ears would prick up whenever there was a chance to drag me back to that painful place you know too much about. To watch me squirm with nervous restlessness and that all too familiar tightness in my chest as I pour every last drop of energy into controlling the panic rising from the pit of my stomach.
You’re really exhausting, did you know that? I mean, the knackering haze of sleepless nights with a new-born baby after a gruelling 30 hour labour was a walk in the park compared to dealing with your crap. Sometimes it takes summoning stores of energy people don’t even know they have, to get beyond the crippling fear you induce in them on a daily basis. Being around is like a never ending nightmare that you’re just about to sit an exam you didn’t revise for. Face it, no one who knows you likes you.
Of all the monsters I think you’re the most sly. Yes I’m calling you sly.The people you pester and harass, whispering not-so-sweet nothings in their ear, get a reputation for being ‘stress heads’, continually been told to just chill out. You manipulate your victims to think their experience of you is their own doing because you go unseen by everyone else. And you know what sly is? It’s gutless is what it is. Because you only grow stronger in your invisibility, you thrive on people taking the blame for the havoc you cause to them. It’s pathetic really, hiding behind your victims. I don’t know why I’ve been scared of you for so long.
This morning you made another low blow. I started to wonder if there was any point in even trying to thwart a foe that has all the vital information on me to bring me to my knees. Perhaps I should just accept a life with you and how you shape my world. But then it came to me. As Professor Higgins would cry; ‘by George she’s got it’! And I think I have. Got it, I mean. Martial arts teaches you to use your opponents strength against them, and that’s exactly what I intend to do with you Mr Anxiety. You see, you know all about me, you know what makes me feel fretful and overwhelmed. But I too, having been in your dreadful company for so long know all about you. I know the unique carnage you leave in your wake and I know that you seek to drain strength and control from your victims. I get it, you’re in this for the long haul and you’re not going anywhere. Maybe you’re right, who knows? But what I do know is that just like a tiresome roommate that is claiming squatters rights, I can at least try to make your time with me as futile as possible.
So you want me to feel powerless and overwhelmed? Yes things have happened and there’s nothing I can do about it. Yes sometimes I want to run to the top of a hill and scream that it’s not fair until my throat burns. But my life is my life dammit, and I’m done with you taking me down. I’m going to gloatingly embrace every aspect of life that I do have a say in, knowing you’re standing on the sidelines watching in frustration as I reclaim control of my life. Even in ways you’d never expect.
And it started this morning. I decided to be the one in charge of my day, not you. So the first thing I did was make myself a cup of peppermint tea. I’ll let you in on a secret here, Anxiety. I don’t really like the stuff. But I know you dislike it a whole lot more and it did settle my churning stomach, so 1-0 to me. I then made the breakfast of all breakfasts, pancakes for my little bears because I know how much they love them. Did I feel like making them? Nope. But this determination that you were not taking this day off me was starting to grow inside me and I was beginning to feel like a fighter. I then put some upbeat music on and took a long shower which meant I had to put real clothes on rather than use the excuse of staying in the house to justify staying in my PJs. I don’t fight my best fights in my PJs. I was on this. And then I made the bold decision to do exactly what I can’t bring myself to do when you’re plaguing me. I cleaned the house. Like a boss.
If you stay I know I’ll feel the affects of your presence. I know it’ll make me feel sick inside. And if truth be known I know there’ll be days that I feel too overwhelmed to make sense of it all. But I’m done with playing dead and hoping you just go away. You’ve stolen my so much of my energy, my confidence and my time. No more. Living with you doesn’t mean you get to defeat me. Now I’m fighting back. This life is mine.
Artwork ingeniously created and kindly contributed by Toby Allen. You can see more of his stuff here at Zest Does things.