Yesterday, I had a monstrous anxiety attack, the longest and most severe I’ve had thus far. The thing literally took my breath away, took my brain function away, took my choice away. I hated it. I hated every moment of it and fought hard to end it. Not until I gave in and processed and had my cry did it go away.
I have anxiety, now. I deal with depression, now. I have to fight harder than ever before to find my happy, to keep my peace, to feel okay.
And yet, I still prefer this life, this living, to what I endured the last 10 years.
My dad helped me realize that the other day.
I was at my parents’ house, filling them in on the latest drama, the latest phone calls with police officers, the latest court battles I will have to fight soon. And my dad sat there listening with a slight grin on his face. I stared at him for a minute, perplexed, and then he asked me how I felt about my life. This took me aback a little bit and I thought, “Um, haven’t you been listening for the last few minutes? How do you think I feel?” But as the conversation continued, I recognized that I do prefer this life I have now. I am a more powerful woman because of the struggles. I am more faithful because of the trials. I am more courageous because of my fears. I voiced this aloud, and my dad replied, “I think so, too.” It was a necessary reminder that I would rather endure this version of hell and have a voice and a choice over the quiet numbness I endured before.
Before, I muscled through as I am now, but it was without hope, at least for this life. Before, I fought for my happy as I do now, but it was without true joy. Looking back, I am still in awe of the person I was and all I accomplished under those circumstances, but I now recognize there was one vital element missing from my life’s performance: authenticity. I was play acting a role as a martyr, sacrificing myself for what I felt was a greater good, but denying my innermost feelings all along the way. I misapplied the doctrine to deny ourselves of all ungodliness into simply denying myself. I fought my own will, not believing that it might naturally want to align with God’s on its own. Yes, the natural man is an enemy to God, but the natural woman, ah, she may be a different story. 🙂
I like that word, authenticity. That’s an element of my life narrative my therapist helped me to understand better the other day. I am truly blessed with so many amazing people in my life to help me discover these pieces of truth and healing. As I was outlining to my therapist all my frustrations at feeling so stuck in my anxiety and my determination to not stay there, she encouraged me in my efforts to not wallow in self-pity, but also pointed out something remarkable. She showed me that all of this is on a healing pathway, and even though it hurts and I hate it, I am feeling it instead of numbing it away.
Then she said, “You are creating your own healing identity as your authentic self instead of what others tell you to be.”
Zing! I had her repeat it so I could write it down because I felt it as a powerful truth for me at this time. I am less and less performative every day, because struggling to fulfill roles and play parts that do not align with my true self are destructive, and I can no longer tolerate them. Now, this isn’t to say that I only ever act selfishly or only ever care about my own needs. That would not be authentic, either. I am talking about creating and maintaining healthy boundaries. I’m talking about self-care before self-sacrifice. I am talking about living shamelessly and accepting myself in the space I am in right now, regardless of what anyone else thinks or expects of me.
I will learn better strategies for coping with my anxiety. I will learn how to find and keep my happy for longer and longer stretches at a time. I’ll get there. Right now pretty much sucks, like, a lot. But I have hope it will get better and I have tools to help me along my way..
I’ll get there.
I have to.