One of my good friends sent me this card a while ago. It was shortly after my second kid was born and I had posted something about how hard the adjustment was. The card was unexpected, and I remember sitting in my car after opening the envelope and having a little cathartic cry.
As you can see, the card lives right behind my bathroom sink. I’ve been staring at it at least twice a day for about a year and a half. It’s probably pretty gross by now, with toothpaste and makeup and germs.
The quote on the card says, “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” I didn’t believe it for a very long time. I couldn’t say it in the first person, where “I” was in my voice. There are some days when I don’t feel the fear, when I feel rested and calm and confident. But heck, there are plllllenty of days when the fear is there and I’m worried that I won’t ever be able to shake it.
Tangent: I took this picture last July, when I was experiencing a great break from anxiety. And that’s what it was, looking back – a break – and not some triumphant ending to a horrible story. I keep expecting to reach some kind of finish line with this junk. I really want future me to pop in and let me know just how long this phase of semi-anxiety-ridden life is going to last…or will it never leave?! The not knowing sucks, and I’m still trying to make peace with that and take things day by day. Ugh.
Back to the card. I never had any issue identifying with the second part. Absolutely, I am learning. I’m always learning. I like learning. Yup. But that first part…somehow I felt like my goal should be about abolishing my fear, getting rid of my anxiety, and so every time it’s come back over the last year and a half, I’ve felt…disappointed, sad, scared, and full of shame.
I am reminded about a conversation I had with a friend about that one TV show Running Wild with Bear Grylls. She commented about how scared one of the female guests had been on the show, with the implication that her fear was something undesirable or weak. My response to her was that yeah, she had been scared out of her mind, but she still did it, and she was badass. And that’s the definition of courage, anyway right? It’s not about the absence of fear, it’s about feeling fear and doing it anyway. Honestly, a large portion of my life has been that way.
And so. I feel like I need to change the card a little bit. Maybe something like, “I am afraid of storms sometimes [or most of the time. lots. like, maybe almost all the time], but I’m learning how to sail my ship…right through them.”
PS – I’ve used the terms fear and anxiety interchangeably in the post because of the wording of the card, but in my reality they mean very different things.
PPS – Please excuse the product placement. Or maybe don’t. Perhaps Aveeno would be willing to sponsor this post. Call me! Pay for my anxiety meds!