I grew up in the 80s and 90s, most of what was happening in the world wasn’t instantly put in my face as a young person. As a kid, I rode bikes with my friends till the street lights came on. As a teenager, I used to wander the neighborhood until it was 2 in the morning and never gave it a second thought. These days, as a grown adult woman, I’m terrified to leave my house and go to the local Walmart, simply to do some grocery shopping for my family. The invention of computers, cell phones, tablets and the internet are amazing things, but the instant access and constant alerts to the bad or scary things that happen around us every day is traumatizing at times. It’s made me afraid to live my life outside my house at times. I find that i have days where i am justifying canceling appointments, avoiding or canceling plans with people I care about, and utilizing delivery services way more then I should. My anxiety is at an all time high.
Now my therapist would tell me it’s perfectly ok that I am feeling this way and taking time for myself to avoid the world when I need to is perfectly acceptable and all part of my “self-care” plan, but I don’t know if I would completely agree. Partly because the last 37 years of my life have gone by so fast and i want to enjoy my life as much as i can because i have a feeling the next 60 are gonna go by just as quickly. And also as a mother I just keep thinking of the example that I am setting for my kids. That when something scares us we just hide out in the safety of home and avoid the world…I don’t want them to believe that and live like I do. They have seen me be too anxious to leave the house and even though they don’t realize it’s anxiety, the guilt from letting the fear win and stealing precious moments, is crippling at times.
I am always telling them it’s simply because I didn’t feel good, that we can outside tomorrow instead. When they are dealing with anxiety themselves I’m the first to insist that we can’t let our fear win, we can’t let other people’s bad decisions keep us from going out and enjoying our lives, it’s scary but if we let what they do keep us inside then they win. The negativity wins. The fear wins. I don’t want that. I don’t wanna look back on my life when I’m old and think about all the moments I missed out on because I was too afraid of what might have happened. And i certainly do not want that for my children either.
Some days it’s real easy for me to push through and not let fear win, not let the scary world outside keep me from enjoying my life, but it comes at an exhausting price. Usually that leads to those other days where no matter how hard I try, the anxiety and fear wins and I have to do what is best for my mental health and stay home, order those groceries or that food, try not to let my kiddos and hubby see it’s my anxiety keeping me indoors and canceling plans and remember that tomorrow is another day to try and not let fear win.
I’m still just a work in progress, trying to feel as safe and secure and enjoy the moments of my life. Every time I can do something like venture 600 miles away from home to another place, it’s a small victory for me. Granted I’ve been sick the entire time I’ve been here in LA and haven’t really left the hotel room, BUT I made it down here with only mild anxiety and hopefully I’ll make it back home with even less anxiety and those are the victories that I focus on. Eventually, the hope is that I have so many small victories that it turns into one big victory of conquering my anxiety. That’s the goal at least.
So for anyone else who deals with anxiety, no matter how mild or crippling it is, we just gotta keep doing what we can to manage it and overcome it, we can’t let fear win.