Saturday 25 April 2020

Is shit getting real?

"What are you up to today?" he asked me at breakfast.
"Oh, you know, the usual: do some laundry, go for a hike with Lily, bake a cake, do some writing ...
lookforatherapist." I said the last bit fast without looking at him. Instead I fiercely focused on my clenching and unclenching fists. My right leg was moving rapidly, betraying my nervousness.

He didn't say anything for so long that I eventually stole a glance at him. 
He was looking at me in a way that was difficult for me to decipher at first, despite the 18 years we've been together. You see, when Rich gets worried or scared he looks pissed off. He has the worst resting bitch face ever, and it took me years to finally understand the difference between his resting/thinking/worried face and a truly pissed off face. (Trust me: the difference is minuscule.) 
But, thankfully, time worked in my favour for once, and I accurately diagnosed his facial expression as stunned and shocked. 

So I quickly proceeded to try and explain myself - my default reaction to everything life's throwing at me. 
"It has nothing to do with you!" I hastened to reassure him. 
"But I'm struggling. I need help."

Somewhat of an understatement.
Here's the thing. I'm 40 years old. I've been living with - this - (I'll elaborate in a minute what this is) - for most of my life. I could live with it for the rest of it. I'm a happy person. I live (for the most part) the life I've always wanted to live. I have way more than the vast majority of people on this earth. Safety, health, love, friendship, food, shelter, enough money for frivolities like books, audiobooks and pretty dresses - I have it all. I feel like a whiny bitch for even mentioning it.

But I'm so tired. And so exhausted. And most of all: scared. I'm so fucking scared all the time. 
And I'm really tired of being scared. 

Here's how I explained it to my husband this morning:
"More often than not I'm expecting the worst. And I'm not a negative person - my natural inclination is to expect good things to happen in life. This is why I can pretend so often that I'm fine - because my nature is to be happy and optimistic. 

"But when I see another car at the community mailbox I usually don't stop because I'm afraid that the person there will say something unpleasant to me. 

"I almost never pick up the phone when I don't know the number because I always expect bad news on the other end. A neighbour complaining about something; bad news from a family member; some random people declaring that they hate me. It doesn't make sense - but I can't shake that fear.

"When I try to call you several times throughout the day and can't reach you, I'm convinced something terrible happened to you. If you were going to drive on the highway that day I think you had an accident. If you're at home I think you had a stroke or a heart attack and are lying somewhere outside, slowly dying. 
Several times over the past years I've phoned friends to ask them in a panic if they've seen Richard. A few months ago I enlisted my neighbours to search our property because I was so convinced that he was lying somewhere helpless and hurt, that I was in tears. 

"I had the same fear when I was 10 years old and my parents would go on one of their very rare outings 3 times a year. I would lie awake at night, worrying about what would happen if they both got into a car accident and died. I could only fall asleep once I convinced myself that my grandma would surely look after me and my sister. 

"I'm always worried about hurting and losing people. I know that I can't say yes to everything someone asks me to do, and I have learnt to say no - but I have a really hard time if they cut me off afterwards. Even though I know that it was the right decision, my first impulse is that I want to run away from people and live as a hermit for the rest of my life. The risk of getting hurt by bad people doesn't seem worth the benefit of having the good ones in your life at that moment.

"I'm at a weird crossroads where I'm done with people-pleasing. I know who I am and what I want in life. But my fear of standing up to people and of facing controversy stands in my way. And I can't seem to find the courage in me to face people. Not only hostile people - but people in general.

"I'm okay with complete strangers as long as it's in a professional setting. (Don't ask me to small-talk to strangers at a party - it's not gonna happen.) 
But as soon as I know people just a little bit - in the context of living close to them, working with them, or seeing them regularly when I'm shopping, or at other appointments - I'm getting scared.

"I'm scared of their judgement. I'm scared of them attacking me. 
"But worst of all: I'm scared of losing the people I love. I'm scared of them finding out how flawed, weird and screwed up I am. 
"And I'm scared to death of losing you. 

"I need help."



  1. Ah yes, my old friend ANXIETY..... She's pretty much a part of my genetic makeup too. For some reason the world is not a safe place for me. At 64 I've made my peace with her but I am well aware that anxiety does inform all my decisions about my day to day life and the future as well. I sit with that knowledge about myself gently now - I'm never going to be someone who climbs Mount Everest... and that's ok.
    You're on the right path, Miriam. Keep up the good work as you discover your deepest self and how truly magnificent that deepest self is.

    1. I've been avoiding dealing with this for years. But it's time now - it's time.
      Thanks for sharing your own experience with anxiety, Elaine! You never know how many other people are facing the same demons. It's comforting to know that we are together in this.

  2. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing your current struggle. I feel like you eloquently articulated the random and overwhelming thoughts & emotions that plague me daily. It feels less lonely to know you feel these things too. I wish you strength, courage, & understanding during this struggle. Please keep posting on the progress. Remember, it is not always uphill and not always downhill. Your path is your path and let nothing stand in your way.

    1. That's a wonderful reminder. I've also read somewhere that some years are for questions and some years are for answers. I have been avoiding getting answers for a long time, but I have a feeling that 2020 is the year where I'll have to go looking for them, no matter how difficult or painful it might be.
      Next step: getting a therapist.

      Thank you Ashley! I wish for both of us to come out of this struggle stronger and more confident.

  3. I am so incredibly proud of and happy for you!!! Therapy has been life changing for me. If you ever need to chat, don't hesitate to DM me!


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