A Little Anxiety


It’s not uncommon for people to change as they grow older. Lord knows I’m not the same gal I was in my twenties….or even in my thirties. I’m (hopefully) wiser…more patient…but when I look back on the old me and compare it with the 50ish me, I notice one thing in particular: I am now living with anxiety.

Okay….so this may really come as a surprise to my friends and family. And I’m not saying that this anxiety I’ve noticed is crippling or anything, but I HAVE noticed it. Because I’m me – and I tend to overthink most everything – I’ve attempted to find out why. I blame a lot of it on the fact that I work from home and that for a period of a few years I was without a car. Admittedly, I’m content being at home. I like the quiet most of the time. But being alone in the quiet can make those ventures outside the house a bit heart-pounding.

I used to be the kind of gal who jumped at the chance to do something. Didn’t matter what it was or where I went or who I was with. I liked going and doing and being anywhere BUT inside my house. Even when my kids were little, we’d take car rides together or go to the park or do something fun. Now it’s literally like pulling teeth to get me out and about on my own.

Anyone who knows me well will most likely wonder where all this is coming from. Hell if I know, although I do admit that the political and social turmoil of the last few years has certainly played a part. I hardly ever watch the news and I admit that when I do I spend a lot of time muting the TV. Granted, I despise the idiot in the White House and all his white boy cronies, so it’s no wonder I get anxious. Politics aside, the craziness of the world in general has certainly fueled this uncomfortable feeling in my chest. I read a lot about “self-care” on Twitter….and yet I realized that Twitter was actually making my anxiety worse. There’s this constant barrage of what to write about, what not to write about, how to label someone, and how to NOT label someone. There are those who condemn romance writers for writing fluff….those who don’t believe women can write accurate gay romance….those who feel strongly about characters being so ‘perfect’. In the words of a family friend….opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.

When I first joined Twitter I took these opinions to heart. I was more careful about what was considered ‘appropriate’ to write and which subjects to stay FAR away from: Don’t write about rape. Don’t write about abuse. Don’t write from first point of view. And on and on it went. But somewhere in the past few years, I realized those opinions were holding me back from expressing what I need or want to write about. I’ve written about rape…I’ve written about abuse. I don’t glorify that pain. I certainly don’t write the story with the belief that love will fix someone who has been broken to that extent. Here’s the thing….we are all pieces of our past. The pain we’ve experienced…the happiness too…makes us into the person we choose to give to someone else to love. I will never believe love is a fix-all (in writing or otherwise), but I no longer feel the need to back away from controversial subjects.

Okay….back to the subject at hand. Yes, I believe that the world in general, and social media, and to some extent my housebound life, have played equal parts in this uneasy feeling I get whenever I’m going to venture out of the house. I honestly wish I could not feel like this….but I do. I’m happiest going to familiar places…the store, the gym, hiking with the hubby. I’m admittedly unsettled at the idea of going out on my own, but I do try to do it. And really….what I’m experiencing is most certainly NOT the paralyzing anxiety that some people go through. But I am anxious….and I really, really do not want to be.

Maybe this is a menopause thing. Who knows. It’s really very easy to blame everything on that. It’s a lot easier than delving inside my head to find out the root cause.

One night a while back the hubby and I were planning to go out for dinner. It’s something we do most weekends…a nice excuse to sit together and just talk after a long week. Typically we’ll stay close to home…choosing from one of the many local restaurants that we frequent. Anyway, I got all gussied up (makeup and everything) and the hubby told me he really wanted to go to a restaurant about 30 minutes away. Yep…my chest got all tight and my head started swimming with oddities….where will we park? What if there’s a wait? Dumb questions, mind you, but still thoughts I had.

We had a great time. While we waited for our table, we walked a few blocks downtown, checking out what had changed since we’d last been there. Our meal was incredible and it was truly a perfect date night. But what was it about that instance that got me all crazy on the inside? Was it the last minute change of plans? Perhaps. What I’ve learned about myself is that I’m good with knowing what to expect ahead of time. Spontaneous me…not so much. Not anymore, at least, but I’d really like to find that gal again.

I know….I sound like a loon. And believe me, I wish I didn’t feel like this. I try really hard to be laid back and go-with-the-flow. But I spend a lot of time inside my own head and I believe I’m my own worst enemy.

My hope is that maybe, just maybe, I’m not the only one feeling like this. I hope that when I do finally get a reliable car, my zest for life outside the house will reignite. I’m trying to work through it and I’m practicing the self-care everyone on Twitter talks about. I quit Twitter cold-turkey for over a month, and although I’ve returned to look at the posts occasionally, my days of interacting with other people on that platform have been halted. Yes, it’s a great place to network with other authors. It’s also the best place to reinforce your own self-doubt and be condemned for expressing an opinion.

I’m doing what I can to take care of myself. I’ve unfollowed the friends and family members who are so quick to shove there political shit down my throat. I only watch local news, and have no problem changing the channel if said news is dominated by the racist/homophobic/misogynistic rants of the idiot who sits in the oval office. I avoid friends and family members who believe it’s their sworn duty to attempt to make me as closed minded as they are. And I’ll keep doing what I’m doing until I’m no longer feeling the pain of anxiety in my chest.

Which I do hope is very, very soon.

-AJ

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