The helpful thing about having children with anxiety is finally being able to identify and understand a lifetime of what haunted many of my actions and inaction. I did not know I had anxiety issues when I was younger, or that it caused much of my unhappiness and depression over the decades. My anxiety phantom would randomly appear, usually in social or stressful situations, where I was expected to answer a question, request something, or do something new. I would find myself unable to decide on the ‘right’ answer or action, so I took the presumed safe route, even if it meant doing nothing at all. Sometimes, this meant not asking out the girl I really liked in high school or tolerating a bully instead of beating the living crap out of him, or stammering through a simple customer service transaction. Sometimes, the feeling was so strong I physically could not speak or act as I wanted because there was a voice in my head screaming, “What if you’re wrong? What if doing this ruins everything, everywhere, forever? What will you do then?”
I would like to say I am all better now. That these are just dark memories from the past, but time does not heal all wounds, especially those which have always been a part of you. I can say anxiety has not always won out. There have been and continue to be times when I hear the voices and feel the tension, but now that my phantom has a name, I am able to take a deep breath, remind myself the world will not end if I am wrong, and do what I want or need to do. It is still be challenging, and on those occasions, a couple of deep breaths won’t do it. Those are times when I have shove the anxiety fueled mental energy from “What will you do then?” to “FUCK IT! What’s the worse that can happen?” and then step forward, or open my mouth and speak. The good news is I don’t usually make an ass out of myself. Indeed, I have made the wrong choices, both when submitting to and rebelling against my phantom, and these choices have impacted my personal and profession lives.
Dealing with anxiety is a never ending battle, but being able to understand myself has also allowed me to help them understand themselves. During hard times, I have been able to talk about my anxiety so at least they know I understand the pain and confusion even if I cannot make it go away.
As a sidebar, I think it is important to let them children know their parents are not perfect, infallible human beings. It helps them realize struggles and mistakes are a part of life, not a personal shortcoming. I am no Superman.
I am clearly Mr. Incredible, and, on some days, Captain America.
Anyway, my intention was to post an article on my novel’s completion, sending out agent queries, dealing with rejections, and planning for the year ahead, but I was struck pondering why I have been having such problems maintaining this site. I am happy with it and proud of the foundation I have created, however, even though I have a slate of content material and ideas, it’s been tough posting. Now I know why. It’s my phantom.
Are my ideas really good? Will anyone read them? Will anyone care? Am I wasting my time? Should I be working on my WIP instead? Should I working on my new WIP instead? When am I going to get back to animation? What about the webcomic? What? What? When? How? When? What? Why? Why?
I write because I love it. It’s the same urge every writing feels. I will write here because improvement comes from doing and I want to improve my writing. I can only hope people read and enjoy my content. Then again, maybe they’ll hate what I write. This is fine too. To each their own. The world will not end.
One last word about my phantom. I have found it easier to accept it by acknowledging it. I have become comfortable, when in situations I feel the indecision gripping me, saying, “Excuse me. I have anxiety and just need a second to think through this.” People have been understanding and I have been able to function and move on.
I think I rambled enough for now. Thank you for stopping by. Have a great day.