Lately I have felt tired, grateful, anxious, hopeful, sad, happy, uncertain, excited, the list goes on. That’s a lot more than I could have said six or seven years ago. Back then if someone asked me how I was feeling I probably would have responded with ‘good’ and then walked away.
Anxiety was like my shadow. At school she huddled close by watching my every move. When I was talking with friends she didn’t take any notice. Put me in a room with people I didn’t know and she’d push me to the ground, holding my tongue so no words came out. She was good like that.
Her favourite game was to taunt me and tell me I wasn’t good enough; that I was never going to fit in. When there was a cute boy I liked, she would tease me in front of them, causing the churning in my stomach to reach boiling point. I wish there had been a door for me to disappear into, in these uncomfortable moments, but knowing my shadow she would have been right there with me.
She told me over and over that I couldn’t do it, I did it anyway.
Over time I grew used to her. She followed me wherever I went. It was so normal to feel agitated, anxious, and like my heart was going to pop that I wasn’t really sure how not to feel it. All I knew was that when I went out to parties in the weekend she disappeared. The alcohol entered my body and into the night she fled.
It wasn’t until August 2010 that I knew something was amiss. I lay in bed, my stomach and chest fluttering, and there she sat on the edge of my bed telling me I was going to die. Her energy was dark and overbearing. I was terrified. One day was I going to wake up only to find that my shadow and I had morphed into one? No fucking way.
And so I jumped …
Into a sea of darkness I plunged, not knowing what was going to happen in its depths. All I knew was that I couldn’t go on living the way I was, it was simply too painful. It was in that moment that I chose, for the first time, to turn around and confront her face to face. In doing so, I stopped caring so much about what she meant, what she was saying, and the feelings she conjured up within me and instead I accepted her as part of my life.
It was then that I began to see her in a new light. For 27 years she’d been attempting to show me how to feel all this time I had been pushing her away. I had seen her as a negative force in my life and had run from her, afraid of her presence. The minute I turned around and decided to love her and invited her into my life as I would a friend a peace came over me like I have never known.
I had accepted that life involves getting hurt, being sad, grieving, and being nervous, and for the first time I quit fighting and let her show me how.