I wrote recently about who I thought I am. It was connected with my desire to write, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently and realise that there’s so much more to this question than that (which might seem rather obvious, but it hasn’t been to me until now.)
This is me.
Caring, shy, introverted, quiet, self contained, self deprecating, occasional bursts of humour, emotionally strong, thoughtful, perceptive, supportive, kind, able to string a few words together on a page, can take the odd decent photograph, a good friend and most importantly a good mum.
A lot of these characteristics come from day one really. They are at the core of who I am. But there’s one I haven’t listed above. One that has been with me since I can remember but it is one which I have only now realised is with me constantly and which I wish would disappear. But I know it won’t.
I am anxious. Not just occasionally, but always. For a very long time I never understood what it was. To be honest, I just thought I had something ‘wrong’ with me and I should just get on with it and not complain. There are very good reasons for my anxiety. However, for a long time I didn’t realise that either.
Many will have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about here and may even think it’s just an excuse for being a bit rubbish (and believe me, I’ve thought that too.) Now however, I’m so happy for anyone who has no idea what living with anxiety feels like because I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
It is destructive. It is exhausting. On good days, it is easier to silence, but on not so good days it is a monster. For me, it turns me into someone unable to make decisions, someone who is liable to make a silly mistake and then agonise over it for ages, or do something without rationally thinking it through. And then analysing where I went wrong in an attempt to make sure it doesn’t happen again. At school it was considered conscientious. I think of it as very hard work with little tangible reward. It’s horrible. And it turns me into a harsh critic of myself (which is very harsh.) There is no one who is harder on me than me.
The better news is that I recognise this crippling anxiety now for what it is. I am learning, eventually in my 40’s, to understand how to control the voice and turn its volume down. And I realise that with the anxiety also comes tremendous strength, and courage. I was recently described as ‘a coper’ and yes, that’s exactly what I am. Even when it feels like wading through treacle, I never give up. The same person also described me as resembling a swan-calm on the surface and paddling like crazy underneath. And yes, that’s exactly me too.
I have thought long and hard about writing this post. Part of me is relieved to have it out in the open so to speak. It is a release of a kind. I am also incredibly apprehensive about it for obvious reasons. It’s not an easy thing to reveal, let’s face it. And I hope that it might help other’s in some way too. Even if it’s knowing that you’re not alone. Because anxiety can make you feel very alone sometimes.
So there you go, this is me.