It's not that I don't want to sit with you in the bleachers at our kids sporting events. It's just that I can't. Does that statement really make sense? It does to me and that's how I know I have anxiety. It's as simple and as complicated as that. It's just one example but there are many situations where my anxiety holds me back. Social get-togethers, crowds, restaurants...
Here's what I do know about being a mom who has anxiety. I need a safe place. I need a circle of fellow moms who know what I'm going through and can help. But first, I need to be able to say, "This is me" without feeling ashamed or threatened. Because insecurities. And fear of judgment and ridicule. Because I haven't been the best person and have a past that I am afraid people will judge me over. These are all things that send me right back to the couch just when I thought I would be able to go out and conquer the world today. But I know what I need so I just need to embrace it.
Walking up to sports events gives me shortness of breath, red hot cheeks and thousands of thoughts all at once: What if there is no where to sit? What if the wind is blowing my shirt against my stomach? What if I can't find one of the kids?
And once the games starts, am I cheering at my kid too much as they walk up to bat? Or what if I am not yelling enough? What if people catch me checking my phone and think I am not paying enough attention?
As I wrote that, I said to myself "I guarantee no one is going to be paying that much attention to you." I know this. But when anxiety takes hold, there's a ringing in my ears that I can't cancel out and I can't listen to the voice of reason in my head.
Having anxiety is like having someone yell in your ear 24/7 while you're trying to focus on someone who is looking right at you but you can't understand what they are saying. It's like having an itch that is impossible to scratch or like having a door bell ringing that won't ever stop. It's having something pull on your hands in one direction and your feet in the other. Did you ever play that game when you were a kid where someone poked you in the chest incessantly until you could name 10 cereals in a row? It's like that, only all of the sudden, you can't remember one single type of cereal.
Here's the thing about being a mother and having anxiety. I need help. I need a buffer system so that I can enjoy the wonders of being a mom while also being in a safe place that lets me live in the moment. Always thinking about the next moment and all the what ifs makes it impossible to live in the moment.
The best things my fellow moms and my friends can do is just to know...and to just be. Just be there for me. Just be kind. Just be patient. And if I come to a get together with my accidental RBF (resting bitch face), just know that I am nervous and inside, I'm actually a really happy person. Resting bitch face is not my real face. It's my anxiety face.
My greatest wish is that I'll surround myself with people who love me and there will always be someone to greet me with a smile when I go to the kids' events or where ever else I must go.
I need to remember that life takes off whether I am ready or not and that just because I don't get a text back right away or if a couple of friends got together without me, it's not because they don't like me. I know that seems silly and I almost erased that but I had to keep it because it's true.
I am going to stay where I am comfortable. This whole "live outside your comfort zone" makes for a cute meme or whatever but it just doesn't work for me. I feel safe on the side lines or in my personal space bubble. There are some people who make me really uncomfortable and their negative vibes just don't have to be a part of my orbit and that's okay.
If I turn down an invitation to a party or ask a bunch of questions before I actually do come, please be patience with me.
If I arrive somewhere looking frazzled or annoyed, just give me an couple minutes and I'll be fine. Don't start with "what's wrong" or "You don't look like you're having fun!" because I promise, I am trying to get there. I just take longer than others.
And the most important thing I can do is to give the same back. I'll always have a smile and a seat next to me ready. As long as I don't trip and fall on my way to the bleachers. Because I worry about that happening a lot.