And I am always unarmed.
2017 was the hardest recovery year of my life.
2018 doesn’t seem like it’s being any less hostile than last.
I’ve always known something was wrong way back when I was a little kid, before I even knew what anxiety was. I knew my mom went through heavy breathing spells and she’d always clamp down on her chest, sit on the couch or a chair, and close her eyes to breathe it out. Sometimes that worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Those were the most terrifying to watch.
It wasn’t until my family was split did I start to really feel the curse poison the space inside my chest. It hit in my new school like a blow to the chest and I could suddenly feel every single heartbeat and feel the blood flow through my veins. My head screamed run but my heart begged not to move a muscle otherwise it’d explode out into a million, unfixable pieces. But I persevered because I was only a little kid and knew this would pass eventually, right? I sat down, slowed my breathing, held tight my chest and breathed it out.
Dad never had our anxiety hex.
Well, he never revealed signs to me if he did. He had his own curse that controlled him but never defined him—that’s a different mental illness for a different story.
He was always there to help me before, to bail me out because he never wanted to see me struggle no matter how many times I failed to learn my lesson. Every time I would screw up and get myself into a panicked, anxiety-ridden pickle he would tell me that this was practice and a good lesson learned for next time. Most of my adult life was spent frivolously and I’m severely paying for that now. When he unexpectedly died, though, it sent everything I took for granted into one great big implosion that would level me to barren nothingness, weakness, and self-reflection.
Who I was and the remnants of that persona was very ugly.
In my abundant time for self-reflection and in small conversations with the closest friends of mine, I’ve admitted more than once that I didn’t like who I was. Let me rephrase that… I asked a question that was super nonchalant and neutral about if they ever felt like they didn’t like who they were. I would switch it up, too, and ask if it was normal to not like the person you’ve become. It was a question that haunts me to this very day while I keep on keeping on with these gaping wounds made by anxiety. To my unfortunate surprise, they looked at me like I was crazy and, with an uneasy laugh, they confirmed my fear; It was weird to not like the person you are because we spend our lives making decisions to get us to where we are today.
Their unintentionally laughable answer only reaffirms the anxiety though and then it hangs in a quietness I submerge myself in because I start to accept that truth—whether it’s real or not. Because I don’t have the strength that I should and actively search for validation because I struggle with finding value others see in me. More so nowadays than I had before.
I fear being alone, so I surround myself with people who can fill that void. I fill it with people who don’t necessarily need to fill a void themselves, so it’s this one massive imbalance that makes me question whether they want to be around me or if it’s out of convenience or gain.
I fear being selfish even if its out of necessity. I’ve preached a million and one times to others that self-care is sometimes being a little selfish. It’s healthy as long as it doesn’t consume you or come to the helm in the expense of others. It’s a fine balance between destructive selfish acts and self-care selfish acts. One is wicked and the other inherently good. At the end of the day we are granted one body, one mind, and one life. If others are persevering around us while we decay and self-destruct, we have failed obligations we hold to ourselves.
Those were the things I filled my invisible wounds with.
And there is never a warning shot when more come—when my life gets flipped upside down and pushed out into the open. So I fall into the routines of my past and try to excise the ugly curse out of my body with faith and luck.
There is something to be said, though, about the truth spoken by others I consider inside my radius. We may live our lives and make the decisions that get us to where we are today, but what we pay for doesn’t always mean we’ll like the finished product and that’s okay.
We don’t need to like it and we can change that. How? I don’t know yet, I’m still working on it as my anxiety is in high tide. I won’t stop trying, though, and that’s enough for me.
Song: Midnight by Coldplay