One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is that the journey with anxiety is really about endurance. I’m in this for the long haul. This isn’t really a thing that’s going to completely go away, and I’m slowly but steadily coming to grips with that and accepting it. I struggle with it sometimes because I can remember a time when I wasn’t this way. I can remember a time when meeting new people didn’t fill me with dread and traveling didn’t keep me up until all hours of the night. I can remember being lighthearted and easy about the things that currently make me anxious, and I want to get back there.
Which is not to say that I’m super serious and anxious all the time – I’m not, and the symptoms are much less intense than they used to be. But I still don’t quite feel like I’m as thick-skinned as I was. And while vulnerability is great, sometimes I wish that the tough front I put up was the way I was feeling inside. I guess what I really want is to be comfortable being vulnerable, not just to do it because I know it’s good for me or my relationship or whatever. I want to lean in to that discomfort. I want to welcome it. I want to invite it into my life and make it part of the way I live.
I’m learning how to do that with the help of the dude and my therapist and practice, but the best role model I’ve had in all of this is my big sister. I have always looked up to her, but after watching her go through labor yesterday and now seeing her as a mom (what up, baby E), I cannot even begin to adequately describe the depths of my respect for her. She had a long and difficult labor, and though I only got to see her for a few minutes, I was amazed. Her emotional endurance is one of the most incredible things I have ever seen in my lifetime.
When I say emotional endurance, I don’t mean that she was “strong” and “kept it together” and seemed fine all the time. I mean that she was honest about what she needed, she was willing to let others help her, she was vulnerable, and she faced it knowingly and willingly. And that’s how I want to be in the face of anxiety. I’ve done a lot of work and that I’m definitely on that road. But I think that’s the key to handling and healing this whole anxiety thing: I have to be willing to endure it. And I have to trust that I can. I have to believe and know that I have the willpower to maintain the things that help me like a workout schedule and time with my family. I have to believe that I have the emotional resilience to accept the really bad days and be joyful about the good days. I have to trust that I can endure far more than I think I can. And my sister has taught me that over the last few days: we are all of us capable of far more than we think we are. We just have to let go in order to truly discover the amazing things we can do.
(Ok, so, that was pretty sappy for me but give me a break, I just met my nephew and he’s perfect and my sister is a fucking boss and I’m just super in love with both of them.)