Anxiety moved in when I was 15 years old. Her first gift was a panic attack that played out for hours on an old red couch in my best friend’s bedroom. I had no idea what was happening, but I was convinced I was going to die. I didn’t.
Since that first terrifying experience, anxiety has made her residency in my vessel unpredictable. Sometimes she’s like a sleeping baby, who is so quiet and calm—I think she has finally moved out. But then she starts to wake and her level of activity goes from walking the internal grounds of my body with her ever so gentle, light steps to having a full-blown, loud, vibrational head-banging concert in the attic of my mind that consumes my entire being.
For years, I have been paralyzed with fear by her sporadic and unpredictable abuse.
Like a toxic relationship, I didn’t know how to escape her, but I also didn’t recognize a life outside of her either. I wanted so badly for this relationship to end, but there was an unhealthy comfort in fighting her too. After all, we have been together on and off for 20+ years. In the past, I have tried so many times to change the locks of my mind, but eventually, I would cave and offer her the key.
Today she did not win though.
She tried to take up residency again, but I had something different in store. I felt her enter, and I warmly greeted her. This time, however, I did not serve her, she did not get fed her normal meal, I did not offer her a drink, and I most certainly did not entertain her.
I also did not ignore her, and I did not fight her. I did not ask her to leave or why she came, I simply let her be. She came in and out several times today, but she did not stay, perhaps because her accommodations have changed.
Maybe, just maybe, I should try to treat her this way more often—like the uninvited and unwanted house guest she is.
Letting her in and out may still seem out of my control but maybe, just maybe, how she feels when she’s in my house will now determine how often (or not) she decides to visit.