We go way back. I didn’t know your name for a long time and I don’t remember exactly when we met, but I do recall when I was five or six, having that chronic fear of being lost, being locked in rooms or being locked out of the house. You stole a lot of fun and joy out of my childhood.
I got to know you better when I was twelve years old and became convinced that my chronic headaches had to mean I had a brain tumor. I still didn’t know your name, so every time you showed up, I just assumed you were a symptom of whatever was killing me. Finally, I found out that I needed glasses, and when my vision was corrected my headaches went away. But you stuck around in the form of that crippling fear of death, which took years to ease off.
And then, December 2014. That was your big breakout, wasn’t it? I was sitting on my bed and thought I was going insane from the all the thoughts and fears spinning around in my head. I felt so physically ill, I wondered if I’d caught a stomach bug. I grieved a relationship that wasn’t even over yet because you had me so, so, scared. I fought with you for six more months, and finally, I was able to get past you and make the decision I needed. With nothing I could love and lose to torment me over, you faded into the shadows.
But you’re still here. You got a good grip on my heart that night in 2014, and now it’s easier for you to sneak back up on me. (Kind of like heat exhaustion.) You keep flaring up whenever I have to do something new, whenever I fly on a plane, whenever things get too crazy at work, whenever I’m alone for too long, whenever I drink too much caffeine, whenever I perceive something wrong with someone, and whenever I care about something a lot. Could you stop doing that?
At the end of the day, you aren’t me. I believed that lie for a long time. But you’re not. You’re something that happens to me. I know you come from some weird survival instinct, this need in me to protect myself from getting hurt, to weigh the risk vs. reward before doing anything. I’m learning that it’s not my job to protect myself from everything because that’s impossible. At some point, after I’ve thought things through and done my best, I have to trust God enough to let my future be uncertain.
You and I are probably going to spend the rest of my life together in some capacity. And that’s okay. I won’t live my life afraid of you. That being said, you better believe I’m going to work every single day to be stronger and smarter than you. My life is so much better when you’re in your proper place: keeping me from jumping off of bridges and away from possibly-rabid cats.
I’m choosing not to be afraid of you. Even when you jump me and pin me to the floor, sitting on top of my chest and asking me a million questions, I’m trying to choose not to be afraid of you. You drive me straight into the Garden with my God who was so anxious, He was sweating blood. He knows you better than I do, and you didn’t stop Him. You won’t stop me, either.
As I wrote in my journal back on January 21st: “This is just anxiety. It’s just something that is happening to you. It will go away, and when it does, you will still be here. Don’t be afraid.”