My old friend. It is always with me, even in my dreams. Always thinking, worrying, stressing, dissecting, overpowering me. I can sense it coming, in my neck, my jaw, my shoulders, my hips, my hands, my chest, tension spreading through my veins in every direction. Even in the quietest moments, where I am somehow able to unwind and focus on one idea in my head, I know it lingers in the shadows, waiting for an opportunity to sink its claws in.
It grips me in its clutches and threatens to push me over the edge, but somehow I always find my way back down from the precipice. It can either make or break my day. Sometimes anxiety can be good, such as the anticipation of an exciting event or even just the fact that it forces me to look outside of myself and really think about how I look to the people around me. It makes me analyze myself and strive for excellence, or at the very least, some degree of self-improvement. But other times it can be detrimental to my mental health.
It makes me question every decision that I ever make, down to which restaurant to eat at. Parenting–I’m not sure how other parents feel, but I pretty much feel like I’m failing at it all the time. Dwelling on the past, wishing I could go back a few years to when their arms and legs were shorter, their cheeks chubbier, to when they really needed me. Having a great deal of difficulty accepting the fact that that can never happen, and trying to remind myself that this is what it means to be a parent. You create them, you raise them up, try to instill core values in their hearts, and admit that you are human and adults can make mistakes too. Try to set a good example, and to pass along some of the silly things my mother passed along to me, so that when we’re gone, they will think of those things and hopefully pass them on their children too. I am honest with them always, the best I can be, because I want them to know that it’s okay to admit when you’re wrong, so that you can talk it out and work through it. I always thought my parents were invincible–and those expectations are unfair and unrealistic expectations to hold a human being to.
It makes me feel like a freak at least 40% of the time I leave my house. I pick apart my outfit, my hair, my face, my overall appearance, my muffin tops, my mummy tummy, my square ass; my own worst critic sneering back at me in the mirror. There are people out there who just say things, and then that’s it. They make a statement or take a stand, and then they move onto the next thing they’re gonna say. They don’t even think twice about whatever they said because they’re so confident in their own skin, in how they feel, that they don’t need to. Me, I’m already analyzing the first thing I said before the second thing has even come out of my mouth. Wondering if it was the right thing to say, if I have offended anybody, if everyone is judging me or just pretending to like me, etc.
It makes me want to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be, so in that way it can be a driving force propelling me forward to greater things, but the process itself can be very tough on my mental state, especially if something goes wrong, because I hold myself to unrealistically high standards and failure involves admitting that those standards are, in fact, unrealistically high.
I like to think it helps me to better identify with other people who carry the same weight or burden on their shoulders. Sometimes it helps just to have somebody look at you and tell you that you’re not the only one who feels the way you do. You’re not alone in feeling lost or helpless and alone, insane, crazy etc. Maybe you feel things a little more intensely than other people do, but that doesn’t make you any better or worse. It can be both a blessing and a curse. It helps to write about it, or to read what others have written about their own experiences, so you can see/hear how similarly other people’s thought patterns can be to yours. It helps to do things that will temporarily take you out of your own head, like to go for a jog, to do some yoga or stretching, some other outlet to pour your thoughts and energy into. I have cried while running before, just because I was sorting through some shit in my head while my feet pounded the pavement and my lungs were bursting through my chest. You have to find ways that help you cope. Myself, I like to look inward and find a way to feel more centered, more present in the moment. You can’t be frantically worrying about the past or the future if your feet are firmly planted in the present.
Every day is a new chance to try again. Some days are better than others, and some days I am more in control of my emotions than on other days. But the one thing I know for certain, is that I will never stop, never give up trying to navigate the intricate and complex thoughts and feelings I experience in this life. Just because an emotion doesn’t necessarily feel good, like happiness or joy or excitement or gratification, doesn’t mean it is an unhealthy emotion. It’s an emotion all the same, and should be treated as such. We have to allow ourselves to learn to feel those feelings without resisting them. Just experience them as you would any other, and go through the process. I guess you can liken it to grief in many ways. That’s an emotion you can’t avoid no matter what you do. And fighting it won’t help–eventually it catches up to you, so best to settle down and try to feel all the feels until you’re ready to feel a different feel.