Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always felt my feelings in my stomach. Sadness like a dull ache, happiness like butterflies or a deep wrenching fear. I remember from an early age just being so afraid. Mostly of what people thought but also what people might do. Would they hate me? Would they reject me? To manage this I make people laugh and do everything I can to have them like me. I avoid challenging myself to do the things I really want to do. I want to write. I want to act. I want to feel completely free of fear.
Anxiety has kept me in jobs I’m better than, and in relationships that aren’t enough and that I should never have settled for.
Things have gotten easier but I often wonder if it’s because I’m better or am I just better at living with ‘it’. I’ve learnt strategies to deal with fear and I’m working out how to take little steps. 20 years ago I was so afraid that most days I couldn’t be in a meeting, an elevator or see a movie. I felt completely trapped. Now I can do those things and only on a bad day do I end up in knots of fear imagining things that never happen. I tell my tummy to soften, I slow my breathing and I try so hard to slow down. It’s work but it’s working.