It is hard to give myself credit for achieving goals because the anxiety, the stupid bitch who is making it so hard to reach those goals to begin with, whispers to me that they aren’t a big deal. She tells me that most people, normal people do the stuff I’m proud of without a second thought. She tells me I am sad and pathetic for feeling pride over such small steps. She explains that my feelings of excitement are further proof that I am a pathetic loser.
I fucking hate her so much.
And today I’m going to ignore her incessant whispering. I am proud of myself for a couple of things that have gone down lately. Proud enough to tell you about them.
Shortly after we got back to town from our trip south T started a summer school program. With Z’s encouragement I started fast walking every morning while T was at school. I didn’t own proper sneakers, so after a few days I bought a pair. I downloaded a GPS running app recommended by a friend who does exercise. I stretch before I start. I go two miles every morning. When I started three weeks ago I fast walked the whole time. This morning I jogged the whole first mile and around .4 of the second. I logged my fastest time. I’m doing this, really doing it. Like for the first time in my life. I have an exercise routine. Evidently you can teach a 36 year old dog new tricks. The hope is that by the time T finishes summer school the 6 weeks of working out will have become habit. I want to continue doing this. I haven’t gotten regular cardiovascular exercise since elementary school. I’m not planning on running a marathon or anything, but I would like to be healthy for many years for my boys.
I’m doing something I’ve been too chicken to try, something I’ve wanted to do, something that is difficult for me and extremely physically uncomfortable. I’m so far out of my comfort zone I need a passport. After years of encouragement from therapists, doctors, family, and Z I have no idea why I’m doing it. Does the why really matter, though? The important thing is it is happening.
Some days the exercising doesn’t go that well.
And other days I manage to achieve personal bests. On all the days I have a cherry red face when I’m done. And for the next 90 minutes or so….
Now onto the second thing I’m proud of…this one is going to probably seem silly. One of the most oppressive side effects of my anxiety disorder is the mild agoraphobia. It prevented me from taking a class at SU for several years. I get extremely agitated in crowded places. Parties freak me the fuck out. I even get anxious when I’m preparing to go to a good friend’s home. We entertain a lot at our house. Because it is really the only comfortable way for me to hang out with people.
A couple of weeks ago friends of ours invited us to spend a weekend with them and several other families at a home on Lake Ontario. These people are my friends. I like every single one of them very much. We agreed to go. I was actually excited about it. But as the date came closer my anxiety grew more acute. I was sure I’d make a fool of myself, have a public anxiety attack, have explosive diarrhea. And then the day before the trip C spiked a fever. When he went to bed on Thursday night his temp was 101.9. Not terrible, but not great. By that point I had a migraine and was furious at myself for letting my anxiety manifest in such a shitty, physical, obvious way.
Z held down C’s arms as we took his temp. He saw the thermometer creep higher and higher and settle on 101.9. My anxiety was so out of control that I believed he thought I was making C’s fever up to get out of going to the lake. I’m well enough to know that makes no sense, but not well enough to stop thinking it was the truth.
I took a chill pill, took my migraine medication, and went to bed.
The next morning C still had a fever. We gave him ibuprofen and as the morning progressed he was much more chipper than he’d been the day before. I was sure I had my out, though. C and I would stay in Syracuse, T and Z would go and have a great time. But our hosts made it clear that it was cool with them that we brought a sick kid. Z really wanted us to be part of it. And I have no idea how I rallied, but I did. The whole family went. Of course we had a terrific time. Of course I had a terrific time. Ok, I went to bed hours before the rest of the adults, but that is what it is. When my anxiety is acute it exhausts me. And my children wake up hours before the magic children of our friends, so the extra sleep was a good thing.
Z slinging T over a big wave.
The next morning the lake was like glass. Whenever there are rocks Z builds me cairns. He calls them cairns for Karen and it is one of the sweetest things he does for me. You know, besides putting up with the fact that I am batshit crazy. He’s a keeper.
Two seemingly little things. Exercise and a weekend away. It’s embarrassing to admit, but to me they feel like Mount Everest. I’m proud of myself for pushing past my comfort zone, for engaging in life. I’m learning that exposing myself to the anxiety is worth it a lot of the time. I’m learning that I like living life.
The boys split an ice cream sandwich for dessert last night. I think they liked it.