Only the disco is my deck. So imagine a deck with thistle growing up through the slats. A ton a mint in front of it and a pile of wood engulfed by weeds by the steps. Unless that is how you remember discos looking, then feel free to just imagine a disco. The panic is just plain old panic.
I have been trying to live my life more honestly by being more who I am and allowing myself to be vulnerable. By not being ashamed or embarrassed by my anxiety and insecurities and depression. I am who I am, but not without a fuck ton of practice.
I practiced this evening. My phone rang and I didn’t recognize the number. This usually means I ignore the call, but it was a local area code. I thought there might be an outside chance the number was my work, so I answered.
In case you didn’t know, we have a presidential election coming up. I should have known it was a campaign worker.
Danielle was chipper and passionate. She thought I would have a terrific experience if I could commit to making phone calls or knocking on doors this weekend to help get the word out.
I considered what she said and how I usually deal with anyone who cold calls me. I say no thank you. I do not give them a chance to object. I just say no thanks and I hang up. I didn’t do this, though. I wanted to be kind and patient. I told her that I appreciated what she was doing and thanked her for her dedication. Then I told her that as I am introverted, I have a hard time calling people I actually know and that I’d rather gnaw off my own arm than knock on a stranger’s door. I also said that I support my candidate by sending funds when I can and that would be my only way of contributing.
This is what she said: “Oh, I totally get it. I am very introverted and have anxiety when dealing with strangers, but I feel like this is important enough that I have to put those feelings aside.”
Me: Okay. Bye.
In those few seconds, I felt both defensive and defeated. I wasn’t sure if I was better or worse at being introverted than Danielle. I was terribly annoyed that for a moment her comment became a goddamn contest in my head.
I am not going apologize for not wanting to knock on stranger’s doors. I’m not going to feel weak because I can’t, or rather won’t, put myself in such an anxiety inducing situation. I am many things and weak is not one of them.
I’m tired of apologizing for who I am. I don’t know if I am done apologizing for who I am or not, but I am tired of it.
Here’s where the panic comes in.
I thought about writing this and how I’ve decided that it’s okay to be genuine. I don’t have to hide if I don’t want to. We are here for such a short span of time, what’s the point of pretending? Then I started thinking about all the times I’ve written about anxiety, depression, parental narcissism, and I freaked the fuck out.
Are you soft in the head, jingle brains?
Who the fuck does this? It’s weird to talk about struggling with mental illness issues to the goddamn world.
You know, anyone can read this shit. ANYONE.
You can’t take it back, it’s fucking out there. Did you think this through? No. No you did not. Just like everything else. You just do it without regards to consequence and how the fuck has THAT been working out for the past 53 years?
Or maybe 43. I mean, I didn’t start out making terrible choices. Other than when I smeared petroleum jelly all over my head. That wasn’t a great decision. Mom said it took her forever to clean it out of my ears. I was a toddler, so I should give myself a break on the petroleum jelly thing.
I guess in the end, I just look at this the way I look at a lot of decisions I’ve made. Can’t change it now.
I mean, not that I want to. Writing and working through this shit has changed me in profound ways. Good ways. I am stronger than I used to be. I do care about myself way more than I used to. I’m not sorry that I’ve shared the ways I’ve struggled.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have moments of panic.
Image courtesy of Gerd Altmann