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I'm Comfortable With the Process of Becoming. I'm Terrified at the Prospect of Being.

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Even in the face of life with anxiety disorder, I take such strides to face my fears. I walk fiercely into the world armed with love. I live bravely, face uncertainty, stare down self-doubt, learn to love the me who God created, love others, tell the truth with kindness, gentleness and precision, don’t hurt others and I try to understand. I do those things. Yet, I am afraid and filled with doubt.

I started out as a sad, angry and frightened girl. I acted from a place of distrust and disappointment. Then, I decided I had to stop. So I did, a little at a time because no one changes their behavior overnight. No one becomes themselves in an instant.

I am comfortable, very comfortable, with the process of becoming. I am terrified at the prospect of being.

There it is, the complete and honest truth. I am terrified at the prospect of being. Working toward a thing is different than achieving the thing and having to continue making it into something you are and that you do. Becoming is easier than being. Moving is easier than sitting still.

Being safe is the most frightening thing of all. If something isn’t going wrong, then anything can go wrong at any moment. I was raised to understand chaos. When things become too good, too easy or too comfortable, I am afraid the world is gearing up to drop me on my head. At this point in my life, there is so much to lose. I can’t imagine what being dropped would look like.

So I bob and weave, perpetually making sure when the universe throws a punch, I can’t be hit too hard. It’s a futile exercise built on the illusion of control. I’ll take it though because in those moments I feel sane and competent. The problem with irrational beliefs is even when you know something is irrational, you can’t talk your heart out of believing it.

I’ll figure it out. This doesn’t feel true, but my life’s experience tells me it is. Isn’t getting older funny that way? For weeks, months, if I’m being honest, I’ve lived every day on the verge of a panic attack. I’ve been afraid I will fail, afraid of what succeeding looks like, afraid of letting people down, afraid of letting myself down, afraid of spiders, horror movies and the zombie apocalypse. Those are not relevant to this conversation. I digress.

I put myself through such incredible torture. Then, everything ends up working out. Then, I have the all too familiar conversation with myself, “Why do you put yourself through this every time?” The answer is always, “It’s the irrational pact I’ve made with the universe. If I emotionally flagellate myself sufficiently, then I will have earned the right for everything to turn out OK. If I don’t suffer adequately, then I cannot be rewarded with the outcome.”

It’s silly. Yet, every time I’m certain things will not be OK unless I participate in this useless exercise. They simply cannot. Then, they usually are.

Believe me, there are plenty of times when things turn to sh*t, but most of the time, things are fine. Yet, the self-torture seems to be working. Why mess with something that’s working so well? I know deep down it’s completely irrational. I have been frequently told as much by all of the rational people in my life. But what if they’re wrong? So the vicious circular logic continues.

In reality, no amount of suffering, self-imposed or otherwise, is going to earn a good outcome or a bad one. It’s just going to mean I am hysterical as my life unfolds.

Here I sit, on the verge of great and exciting things about to happen, the publication of my first book in particular. While I am so excited, honored and beyond my wildest dreams happy, I am also completely panic-stricken. So there’s that.

All I can really do is keep showing up. Just one foot in front of the other, day in and day out showing up, kind of. I’m going to be scared. I’m going to be unsure. I’m going to do it anyway. I’m going to need some Xanax.

Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: August 11, 2016
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