To me, anxiety is a smooth bitch. She is cool jazz, a panther silently moving through the jungle. She warms me up while she quietly drains me of hope. There are no sharp pains, no trace of existence – just a slow and steady smothering with a dash of that infamous Jaws jingle.
Through therapy, I realized my anxiety started young. She’s been swallowing me inch by inch, thought by thought with just the right amount of pressure for us to coexist. I’m closer and closer to drowning, but she isn’t water. She is dense, all consuming and yet cozy. She is like a cup of yogurt.
I’m a little girl, the second oldest of six. I’m told It’s my job to keep the rest of my crew safe. Adults steal children – one toe in the cup of yogurt. If I’m asleep, who will make sure no one finds us? Two toes in the yogurt. Replay your escape plan, go for their eyes if they grab you, hiding is better than running, how will I scoop up everyone in time? We’ve lost a foot to the yogurt.
Life pushes forward. I hear things, see things and feel things that give inches to the yogurt. By jr. high, high school and college I am comfortably waist deep. I live my very selfish, incredibly fun and delightfully distracting young life wading through the yogurt. My toned, strong legs overpower any second guessing, any fear that lives in my bones. I have the naive stamina needed to live a happy, twenty year old life.
Marriage and family turmoil stir up an anxiety ridden storm in my sweet soul. As I sink in, now chest deep – it is harder to breathe. The unassuming yogurt cup now has the best of me. I struggle through the day, I struggle through arguments, I struggle through any family interaction. I choose to live in this small, hindering cup of chaos because it is what I know, but the expectations created for me do not serve me while they overly serve everyone else.
My age, my new marriage and my bigger sense of self all start to create cracks in this so-called comfort. My worries, stress and anger overpower every other emotion – so I seek help outside my circle. This saved me – it opened my eyes, it rallied my marriage, it made me realize I was living in a cup of yogurt. I didn’t know I was being swallowed alive until I couldn’t see my torso. I told you my anxiety was sneaky.
I was always so worried I would lose it all, but what I didn’t realize was that I had to lose some of it to be happy. I had to lose the weight of other people’s expectations, their goals for me, their wants for me. I had to lose entire human beings because they were only capable of chiseling away without replenishment. Those holes are starting to fill in with new, custom made florals just for me. New holes will always arrive, but the work I’m committed to doing will allow me to bloom anyway.