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Anxiety Makes Me Unable to Forgive People

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I’ve always been irrationally anxious.

I distinctly remember having extreme physical reactions to thunderstorms, my parents leaving me (far beyond the age at which separation anxiety is “normal” and expected) and going to sleep — all before I was even out of elementary school.

Meeting new people made my stomach fall through the floor. Practicing a tornado drill made me shake so intensely I was certain my heart was about to explode. Since these are some of my earliest memories, I have to say I was shocked when it took 30 years, several misdiagnoses and many completely ineffective treatments before I was finally saddled with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and my world made sense again.

I’ll never be completely better. I’ll likely be on my medications for the rest of my life, but my family and I have managed to find a bit of serenity in the midst of the pandemonium that is my disorder now that I have help.

One lingering problem, though? Something I am still struggling to figure out and beat?

My inability to forgive.

My heart is big. Too big, I sometimes think. I care so deeply and passionately for people and things that many of my anxiety triggers are societal. Even so, I can hold a grudge so tightly that I’m pretty sure it just turns around and ruthlessly chokes me.

I want to forgive people for their wrongs. I know humans are so far from perfect — sometimes, I think we are too far gone — but I want to love. I want to feel happy and free. I want to teach my little girl that being angry and judgmental is why we aren’t succeeding as a people, but I can’t. It seems that any time I find myself justifiably angry, that ire throws fuel on my anxious fire and I become physically unable to see past whatever has me upset. It may have started in a place that made sense, but it quickly turns irrational.

Persons X, Y and Z walk into a room and I think about how much better I would feel if I forgave them or even just ignored them, but I shake. I breathe faster. I looked flushed. Walls close in on me when I lay eyes on them and before I know it, I’m having a full-blown panic attack and have to take a sedative. Mind you, it’s not an anger where I want to scream and hit and lash out — it’s silent and rips my insides to pieces.

If you have GAD and find yourself holding irrational grudges and responding with anxiety to triggers of anger, you’re not alone.

Photo by Andras Vas on Unsplash

Originally published: June 19, 2019
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