I have noticed a reoccurring message in my life over the past few days: overcoming fear. This is a topic I avoid talking about, but I am feeling very open today, so here goes...
I deal with fear almost every day. I have high social anxiety with spotty depression and some days are really, really hard for me. "Normal" interactions with others that are easy for most people cause me a lot of stress before, during, and after. Before...I stress out about how I'll be perceived and if I'll make a fool of myself. During...I stress out about how I'm being perceived and if I'm making a fool of myself. After...I stress out about how I was perceived and if I made a fool of myself. It's an uncomfortable way to live, but it's been my reality for many years.
Following a social interaction, even with family or close friends, my body and mind are normally coursing with anxiety that dives into depression. I'm hard on myself. Mean to myself. It's tough and is why it takes me not days, not weeks, not months, but YEARS to be fully comfortable with new people in my life. I'm that fearful of being perceived as "imperfect."
This is what holds me back.
I've been called a "recluse" before, and it's true. My fear is so great and penetrates me so deeply sometimes, losing touch or missing out feels better than experiencing the symptoms of anxiety. And the most heartbreaking part about it is that I realize the importance of being present, I want to be "in the mix," but I can't always be, and there's no good way to express that to those I may be letting down. I feel like I'm keeping a secret, a dark secret, that no one would believe or take seriously if I said it out loud.
I've done medication - it sucks. I don't like being a shadow of myself. I've done therapy - it sucks. I'm not into blaming my mother for everything. So I've developed my own way of coping with my anxiety and addressing my fears. I wanted to share a few of my favorite go-to activities in case they might be of help to anyone out there experiencing similar feelings to mine:
To be completely candid, it's extremely frustrating a lot of days to know that I live with this mental illness and most likely always will. But when I look back on my journey with anxiety and depression, realize how far I've come, what I've learned, and envision where I'm going - I've dared mighty things to get to this place. Which is something to be proud of, as hard as it's been. I've found hope in focusing on "being better," the best I can be, as I live alongside this illness.
This is what propels me forward.
What a day to be thankful! Coming off such a beautiful holiday weekend, I can't help but feel grateful.
We were able to spend our entire weekend at our family cabin in Lansing. The weather was beautiful and the company was lovely. Joel and I made our usual trek to La Crosse, Wisconsin on Saturday. We caught a movie (Suicide Squad - good, but not great, which made me sad), visited Valley View mall, and wandered around downtown. We stopped by our favorite antique store, but amazingly came out empty handed.
On Sunday we were able to enjoy the sunshine and spend most of the day in nature (my favorite!). We went on an awesome hike on some trail off Mt. Hosmer in Lansing. I somehow had never hiked those trails before. It was SO peaceful and we already have plans to do it again one of the next times we're up. It will be beautiful in the Fall!
After hiking, we jumped on the pontoon and spent the rest of the day on a sandbar! It was very relaxing and had a great time indulging in some brews, catching up with my brother-in-law, and boat watching. We had three dogs on the beach at one point which added some entertainment as well!
As you can tell, lots to be so happy and appreciative for. On our way back to the cabin on the boat, I couldn't help but tear up looking at the landscape I've been lucky enough to take in since I was a very young girl.
I missed my grandpa so much and was overwhelmed by how unselfishly he lived his life. He lived it for us. Every moment. Every dollar. Both were most likely contributed towards something that benefited us. We can't take any credit for the cabin and house and docks and boats and everything else he gathered for us in Lansing before he passed away. He had a vision. He wanted to leave a legacy. He always wanted us to be happy - by sharing the place and things that made him happy for so many years.
Thank you, grandpa, for loving us so much and giving us all such wonderful lives. You are most certainly the root of all that is good in us.
Who are you thankful for on this GratiTuesday? Let them know. Whether they are alive or no longer. Let them know.
I adore this quote. I often forget that in this life, we choose what we keep and what we let go. If it is not serving us, if something is out of our control, if there is negativity that exists - we can let it go. We can distance ourselves, we can walk away, we can sever ties.
As the season changes, the trees around us will shed the "old" one leaf at a time, take a moment to be dormant, continue their growth, and present themselves in a new and beautiful way. I think we could all benefit from following this process ourselves.
It has been a very long time since I have woken up in the middle of the night to a mind churning with thoughts. But it happened to me this week. When this happens, I normally carry these thoughts with me into the following days.
I am currently being haunted by the past. Thinking about what I could or should have done differently in various situations. Blowing small actions out of proportion. Trying to remind myself that I'm probably the only one that remembers or the only one that was affected by what I did or didn't do.
Tangled up in these thoughts are many memories of "dead things." Items that are no longer relevant to my current life. Experiences that happened, were painful or embarrassing or hard, and are now gone. Leaves that I shed at some point in one way or another, but didn't truly reflect on until now.
I'm sure it felt great to let go of these people, places, and moments at the time. In my 20's especially, I was pretty reckless. I picture myself at that time in my life with a large pair of imaginary scissors, cutting ties the instant something or someone made me feel anything but happy. No reflection. No regrets.
But as I grow older, the reflection part, before the shedding part, has become so important. Why am I feeling this way? What should my next step be? Is this the best decision for my life? To shed or not to shed? And if I choose to shed - What did I learn?
Let's mimic the rest of our days, weeks, months, years, seasons, after the life-cycle of trees. Savoring the feeling of letting go, but just before making the decision to never turn back, taking time to reflect and learn from that which we are releasing. The moments of reflection are just as important as the moments of letting go.