I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m going to admit that now so you’re not mad later while reading. I am very fortunate to have been granted the support system from which I am benefitting. I have family, friends, neighbors, Bible study buddies, virtual friends . . . I have people who love me and want the best for my family. 

They want to babysit and give me a break. They want to swing by with banana bread after baking too much. They want to drop off things for the kids. They want to help, and because I’m surrounded by enneagram 2s, I also acknowledge that on a certain level they need to help. You could certainly say I am #blessed with a village. There’s just one problem, though: 

My anxiety makes it nearly impossible to accept their help. 

My generalized anxiety disorder expresses itself in many ways. It’s unpredictable. It’s frustrating. It’s debilitating. It’s fun like that. Sometimes it’s good old fashioned irrational fear:

“What if he drops the baby?”

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“What if they don’t cut up the food enough?”

“I’ll never forgive myself if something happens to the kids just because I needed a date night.” 

Sometimes my anxiety needs to feel in control, and generous offers leave me spinning:

“I can take care of this myself.”

“Please don’t drop that off right now, it’ll mess up our nap schedule.”

“As the mom, I wanted to buy that for them.”

Wow, I sound like such an ungrateful brat, right?

But here’s the thing—underneath those ridiculous worries and refusals to loosen the reigns is a painfully vulnerable expression of my anxiety, self-doubt: 

“They don’t think I can handle this.”

“I don’t deserve this kind of love.”

“They’re secretly judging me.”

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These thoughts wrestle all my sound thinking, especially when I’m stressed and probably need help the most. I’ve explained it to my husband this way, I am fully aware I’m not being rational. I can see rational thinking just within reach, but I can’t access it right now. Right now I’m consumed by anxiety.

I don’t want to be this way.

I’d love to be the kind of person who is able to just accept her village with open arms at all times.

Luckily, I’m able to be a thriving member of my village most of the time. But those times, ugh, those times I need my village the most? That’s when I’m least able to accept them. 

I’m going to make a concerted effort to first manage my anxiety and second manage the generous offers of my village. It may be difficult for me to ask for help, but I’ll try to speak up more. When they surprise me with offers to help, I hope they’re able to be patient as I learn to navigate their kind gestures. I’ll also step back and remember if what they’re doing is going to benefit my children, it’s worth the acceptance.

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My anxiety expresses itself in many ways, but it certainly has never expressed itself as a loved one. It’s never been the grandma who offered to babysit. It’s never been the neighbor with hand-me-downs to spare. It’s never been the friend who dropped off cinnamon rolls after a crappy week. My anxiety may make it difficult for me to accept my village, but my village keeps showing up regardless. And because of that, I’m truly #blessed.

Brianna Baranowski

Brianna Baranowski is a California girl loving the Iowa way of life! She is wife to Ryan, mama to two little guys, and an ELL teacher. Brianna loves catching a gorgeous sunrise, holding a warm cup of coffee with both hands, and enjoying silly moments with her family. You can find more of her writing at https://www.facebook.com/acceptingagape.