It has been hotter than it should be, tricking me into feeling like the lazy days of summer are still here, but no, I need to buckle down. There was a hint of autumn in the air this morning — the telling breeze that’s here to pluck leaves from trees. The kids are in school, and although my days are full of the usual menial tasks of life, I know there’s something sitting next to me I need to address, but I’m afraid.
The fear feels like staring into the pitch blackness and waiting for your eyes to adjust, only to discover a face staring back into your own. Or like flicking the basement lights off, and slowly walking up the stairs, with your back brazenly to the darkness. It creeps up between my shoulder blades, fanning out like coral, tendrils lighting my nerves on fire. I know it’s anxiety amplifying the fear, but that doesn’t make it feel less real.
This last year has been a challenge for me. Things were shaken up near the end of 2015 and I’m still settling into this new normal. Although my life is actually better now than it ever was before, the getting here part was painful, and the pain left scars. I’m being vague, I know, but rehashing the details won’t change the end result: every day is spent managing my anxiety now. Most days, I chug along happily, squashing down the panic with a steady internal dialogue of positive thinking and reassurance. But there are days when it’s all I can do to take a deep breath and be human.
I’m seeing people fall apart around me — emotionally and physically — and sometimes I feel like I’m the only one still swimming after the ship has gone down. Frantically looking around to see who’s still with me, wondering when it’s my turn to succumb.
Then I see peers who are succeeding, and I’m left watching from the sidelines, just me and my dreams. It’s these dreams that are scaring me. It’s these dreams that tap me on the shoulder, startling me out of my routine. It’s these dreams that make the clock’s tick so deafening.
I’m afraid. I’m afraid I’ll die in my sleep, I’m afraid something bad will happen to my children, I’m afraid my husband won’t love me anymore, I’m afraid I’ll lose my parents, I’m afraid they’ll lose me, I’m afraid of judgment, I’m afraid of going out in public, I’m afraid of spiders, I’m afraid my dreams are too big…
And I am absolutely terrified of failure.
When I think about how much I fear the failure, I get angry at myself for being so ridiculous. How can I succeed if I don’t even try? What’s the worst thing that’ll happen if I fail? But you know, when you’re this full of hang-ups, even the best therapy tools fall short.
Everyone’s advice makes it all seem so easy — just do it! Keep trying! You can’t fail! You won’t fail! You got this! And that’s so kind, while I sit silently bubbling with worry and fear.
But I can feel the change in this autumn air. I can scratch beneath my surface and see the shiny remnants of confidence I once had. And if I keep chipping away at this outer layer, I feel like maybe, just maybe, what’s under it all will shine.