I refuse to hate you.
I’m not going to fight, scream or even resist though I admit my first response to you never changes.
You are a chirping alarm waking me from a deep sleep at 3 a.m.
I’m annoyed, afraid and enraged. Terror slips in whenever I feel threatened and anxiety you do scare me. You never arrive with flowers or smiles or when everything is great.
You don’t call to tell me you are on your way. You show up at my door like you might never leave. It makes it hard for me to breath.
But what if I’ve read you wrong.
True, you only come when I’m vulnerable but maybe it’s not because you are inconsiderate.
Maybe you are just doing your job.
What if you aim to save all that I am and I possess?
What if you are a guardian seeking to protect me?
Maybe you are a sacred signal, a meaningful messenger and a necessary alarm?
You do get my attention like little else can. You remind me my batteries need to be plugged in, recharged or even replaced. You are a warrior worker bee sting-buzzing me awake. You aren’t trying to sting me to death.
No one ever talks you up anxiety. Few say kind things about you but I’m starting to recognize your worth. You are trying to serve me.
No, this isn’t some mind-twist bullshit perspective shift. Affirmations don’t work for me unless I believe them. I can’t buy greeting cards if I don’t agree with every word and line. I know I can’t just wish suffering away or pretend you haven’t messed up my plans or schedule, my sleep or mood.
You have. You do. They aren’t called anxeity attacks because they are mild, gentle and soothing.
But maybe I’ve missed your point.
True, you never show up when my resources are in tip top shape, when finances are great and I’m having great sleep and lovely dreams. But it’s because you’re trying to keep me from buying my head in my own sand.
You come when I’m stressed out of my mind and have put myself on the back burner’s back burner in the other room.
That is why it’s so so hard to pull out the towels for you. You only come when I’m brutally depleted. That’s about how I’ve been living more than you.
I’m starting to recognize your pattern. You really do have a routine.
You aren’t punishment but you are the bill that comes due after all the drinks and food have been devoured. You are the credit card in January when Christmas went on plastic.
You make me pay attention to the here and now.
To my body.
You help me get real and return to myself.
The tension and my sensations.
You show up when my breathing is shallow.
You arrive when my thinking is frantic and fearful.
And the truth is, I do respond to you.
You cause me to shift gears, to slow down and to stop running on fumes.
You cause me to remember I’m a human not a machine.
You cause me to reach out to others.
You force me to remember self-care is a requirement and not a luxury.
You help me remember I have post-traumatic stress and must nurture me on the most primal levels.
You are the leash keeping the puppy from running into the road even though the puppy gets frustrated.
You aren’t my enemy.
No wonder fighthing you never works. I’ve treated you like an opponent in the boxing ring I can clock out of my existence. I pummel and threaten and try to knock you out.
It never works.
Cheri Huber said:
“Nonacceptance is always suffering, no matter what you are not accepting. Acceptance is always freedom, no matter what you are accepting.”
Am I accepting anxiety? Is that why I feel anxious and o.k. at the same time?
I don’t want to jinx myself but it’s kind of helping.
I can feel a difference. It’s not like the anxiety dissolves 100% or is immediately gone but it is less terrifying and scary. I don’t feel hijacked and jumped and betrayed.
I still feel like me.
I see anxiety is just an alarm doing a job.
It has a message I’m starting to receive.
Oh anxiety, we are really growing. Our relationship has changed. I’m sorry I’ve judged you and been mean.
I’ve gone from f’ck you to thank you and it feels like a miracle.
You are actually on my side.
Please forgive me for hating you.
Original writing for Love Note to Your Nervous System series.
You Matter Mantras
- Trauma sucks. You don't.
- Write to express not to impress.
- It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors.
- Breathing isn't optional.