From This Day Forward…
I have wrestled with Anxiety for as long as I can remember. I’m not sure when I realized not everyone felt this debilitating mixture of fear and dread over every encounter or new experience they faced — surely I was well into my teens and long after my mother’s death. Certainly, at least four piano recitals into that particular nightmare of childhood as anyone with anxiety who has had to perform in a public setting can well relate.
But I digress.
I use the word ‘wrestle’ specifically because I think that is an apt description of the way a battle with anxiety is fought. Because when my anxiety has won — I have found myself laying on the floor a shaking mass of Human curled into a small ball just waiting for a referee to slap his hand on the ground next to me so I can be released from it’s grip. See above photo. Not me — but it could’ve been.
It’s been a very long time since anxiety has pinned me — but it lives in my shadows always eager for another match. A tireless opponent.
These Days are a particularly fragile moment in time. The uncertainty of looking at a future no one can define allows anxiety a rematch in even the most stoic Human.
As such, My Anxiety takes every opportunity to whisper sweet nothings to me:
These walls which have become my sanctuary from COVID will turn into my prison. There will come a tipping point where safety will forever cost me my freedom.
The isolation I live in as a single Human will grow toxic. My Lone Wolf leanings will grow past social distancing norms to a place where I no longer desire Human companionship. I will stop reaching out to the relationships I have. They will unravel. And I may not notice and worse — may not care.
My children and grandchildren will grow distant to me as my family of origin did in my past. Time and space separated us all in my childhood. After my mother’s death, without the ability to stand in each other’s company — physically — my family disintegrated.
I will contract COVID despite all this pain-in-the-ass-isolating from some flag-waving dumb ass with an AK and die. And the country will rejoice because they got to have their hair done and a massage. I will be one less Boomer to threaten “Their” Social Security. My life is worth “less than” in the grand scheme of society’s conscience. I am Other.
There won’t ever be another experience in My Life worth having. Like a Jimmy Buffet or Zac Brown concert where I was one with a sea of 10,000 fans. I will never fly on an airplane again to a far off adventure or even the 39-minute flight to see my grandchildren. There will be no more beach vacations or road trips with my Best Friend. He will forever be there and I will forever be here. The symphony will never be together again in one place. Every movie I watch for forever will be on my couch — alone.
These are only some of the whispers My Anxiety whispers to me. Late at night after I have spent the day reassuring my patients that their whispers are liars.
I know My Anxiety is also most undoubtedly a liar. She has no crystal ball to see how My Life will turn out. I know this is so because she uses words like never and forever. Absolutes when Life simply doesn’t work that way.
Life comes at us in shades — all the shades of all the colors — not just black and white. But anxiety wants us only to see it that way. Only the negative. It never wants us to see the full-color photo which develops.
You all remember negatives, right?
So that’s what I’m going to do when My Anxiety starts whispering and wants me to picture my future. I’m going to remember she’s showing me a photo of what it might be — but she’s only showing me the negative of it. Chances are the real future is full of much brighter colors and a much sharper image.
It’s not the whole picture at all.