I don’t think I ever truly realized that I was a funny person until I became an adult.
I mean, I always knew I was clever with comebacks and could make my friends laugh. But I’m talking the kind of funny where it’s an adjective people use to describe you.
That’s been me for ages now. The girl who is funny.
I honestly love it. Besides my kids and my husband and the life that we have built, it’s one of the few things I am truly proud of myself for. I love that I can make people laugh. I love that my brain works in a way that lets me articulate things that are hard to put a finger on. I love that my kids will never grow up in a house that isn’t filled with silly noises and loud laughs.
But I’ve always thought it was weird that I can be so funny, and feel so worried and anxious, all at the same time.
Although I can remember the time of my life where I became the funny girl, I can’t really remember when I started being the anxious girl. It’s just always been that way. I’ve never known a life where I wasn’t worried and filled with anxiety. If it wasn’t about the kids, it was about the bills. If it wasn’t about the bills, it was about the route I was going to take to work. If it wasn’t the route I was going to take to work, it was about what the cafeteria was serving for lunch or how my mom was going to fix my hair for school in the morning. I can honestly trace back my anxiety to before Kindergarten.
Counseling confirmed what I already knew. That anxiety came from not having control. That needing to control came from having a traumatic childhood. That I can try to understand why and learn to talk myself down, but I might never, ever be healed.
The thing that might be hard to understand is, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I was completely healed from my anxiety. I mean sure, it would be nice to feel that lightness of a zillion miniscule weights and worries being lifted. But then what? I’ve worried all my life. In some ways, it’s like a habit. Like biting your nails. Bad for you but weirdly familiar and comforting at the same time.
Anxiety isn’t mine and mine alone. You might have anxiety. Or might know someone who does. It’s that mom on the playground yelling, “be careful!” from the edge of her seat, ready to jump up to save her kid at any second. It’s the friend that plans everything, who makes you envious with her perfectly neat and tidy house (even though she has a toddler!!), who actually ISN’T trying to impress you, but can’t relax until things around her are in order. It’s the wife who checks and double checks that the kids are safe when she leaves them with her husband. Who spurns an argument over hurt feelings because her husband thinks she doesn’t trust him, when the real problem isn’t with him, but with her.
Anxious people are annoying.
I always thought I didn’t care what other people thought until I really talked about my anxiety. I mean, I write on the internet. I share my failures as a parent. My hard times. The fact that I use cake mix and Cool Whip and supplemented my infants with formula while breastfeeding. That I am a Christian and believe very strongly in God and in my faith. About those things, I am unapologetic. But as it turns out, I am extremely apologetic about my anxiety. My biggest fear is being the annoying wife, annoying mom, annoying friend.
So I mask it the best I can. I sit and quietly cringe when what I really want to do is say, “I don’t think that’s safe.”
I shrug things off and then go back and fix them the way I like later, when no one is looking.
I add to my anxiety by trying to look like I’m not anxious.
It’s exhausting. It’s difficult. But more than anything, it’s an incredibly lonely feeling.
It’s easy to read this and think that anxious people aren’t fun. They aren’t happy. They aren’t easy to be around.
That honestly couldn’t be further from the truth. I truly do love my life. If you knew where I came from, you would know…I am living a dream. I have more than I would have ever imagined. Anxiety doesn’t mean you’re unhappy or depressed — it just means that you are always trying to protect yourself. Protect from disappointment, protect from hurt, protect your kids, protect your heart, build a million tiny walls around anything that could possibly collapse.
I’ve learned to stop the process of bad thoughts. To ask myself logically, “what is really most likely to happen?” as a way of stopping fears from creeping in. It helps tremendously….but I’ll probably always have to do it.
What I want you to know about anxious people is — we don’t want to be this way. Getting frustrated or laughing off our concerns doesn’t help. Every day we do our best to not annoy the ever living love out of you, and what we need is support and patience and compromise.
If you are a fellow anxious girl, I want to say, Anxious people, unite!! Tomorrow. Or whenever the weather looks good because I don’t drive in the rain and also I need to Google Map the route to your house a time or seven. Also, should I bring snacks? We might get hungry and I don’t know if you have stuff that I like.
Real life, people. Welcome to my brain.
Anxiety can be hilarious — for someone like me who is always looking for new “material,” I probably laugh at my own expense more than anyone. Because only I know the true extent of my crazy worrying. Sometimes when my husband gets frustrated, when he shakes his head and does that resigned laugh…the one that means, “this is completely illogical but I’m going to go along with it because I know it’s what you need to feel safe,” I just lean over and whisper, “and this is only the stuff I let you see…”.
We all have our stuff. Our secret crazy that lives in an odd shaped closet in the back of our brain. Illogical anxiety is mine.
It could totally be worse.