Please allow me to introduce you to my ex best friend. Her name is Anxiety. I say her, because she takes on a myriad of forms and tries to make me think that I am her and she is me. She tried to become my identity. But she’s not. She is anxiety and I am Bryn. We are not the same. We are separate and not best friends. Allow me to share with you several of the forms she took in my life. You may recognize some of her less usual tactics in your own life.
Sudden, Loud Sounds
One of the ways that I feel the presence of anxiety is in my reactions to loud sounds. Sudden, loud sounds are jarring to me. No PTSD to blame it on. Sudden, loud sounds just send me over the emotional cliff. It can be my dog’s bark, my kids yelling, my husband’s surprise sneeze. Whatever the case may be, when anxiety is present, I cannot cope with this sudden sound.
Though I am one who avoids a phone call at all cost, texts can also be a source of great angst. When I get a text, I know it requires a response. It may also require an allotment of time I am not willing to commit to. Texts bring about all kinds of news and can bring about quite a load of anxiety for me. Texts that are asking for a phone call are almost too much.
Please see above. Truth is, I have a feeling I know the root of this anxiety causing trigger. One, I worked as a customer service manager, a.k.a. human punching bag. I got all of the angry calls. I dread voicemails just about as much as actual calls. Angry people LOVE to leave voicemails. They can be as mean as they would like without any guilt. Another roots from guilt-seeking phone calls in my past have me dreading phone calls in general. Hearing the phone ring, again, sudden sound, triggers a jolt of energy I do not like.
I am sure I am not alone in this one. Confrontation is frightening at best. I would rather just deal with whatever is bugging me, on my own, stewing and stressing, than have to share my frustrations with the offender directly. Confrontation requires that I put myself out there and subject myself to rejection and ultimately abandonment. Nope, I would rather not have another person walk out on me because I spoke up for myself.
I am pretty sure I am making up a name for something that already has a name, but I bet you already know what I am talking about. When someone latches on to me and forces all of themselves on me and guilt trips me for not responding fast enough, or frequently enough, it makes me so anxious. I can smell these people out a mile away. They are looking for all of their affirmation in me and I just don’t have it to give. They want me, or others, to be their source of entertainment, encouragement, hope. I was not created for that, thus causing a great deal of stress when I try.
This is a weird one, but I realized a few years ago that nonstop talkers make my anxiety go through the roof. I haven’t figured this one out, but it is definitely a trigger. My heart begins to race faster and faster when I am around someone who can carry on a one sided conversation for an hour straight. I suppose there is a bit of me that is frustrated that noone else is allowed to speak in the so called conversation.
Here’s the thing about all of these triggers, that is all they are, triggers.
I am not saying it is an easy thing to avoid these triggers, because for me they are the hardest things to avoid. These triggers are often caused in my own family, extended family and friend groups. The safest people in my life, can inadvertently tap dance on these feelings and induce feelings of anxiety.
A wise friend of mine pointed out that I was “partnering up” with or agreeing with the anxiety. In essence, she pointed out that I was finding my identity in these triggers of anxiety.
1 Peter 5:7 says that we are to “Cast all of your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
I like to think I am a fisher. The kind of fisher that likes to have someone bate the hook, I cast the line, catch the fish, and someone else takes it off for me. So, I am probably not going to win any fishing contests that way, but I sure do find peace in letting that bobber just bob away in heavenly peace.
When I think about this scripture, and I see the word cast, I see a fisherman. Casting means throwing that line just as far as you possibly can, away from you, preferably to where the fish are hiding from you. If we put anxiety into this context, we see the idea of throwing anxiety as far as possible from you. Scripture tells us to throw it on Him, BECAUSE, He loves us.
So now let’s connect this to the idea my friend shared with me. She pointed out that I was partnering with anxiety and scripture agrees with her that I shouldn’t be, that I should be throwing it off, casting it on Him, BECAUSE He loves me. So, instead of partnering with, agreeing with, finding my identity in anxiety, I am called to partner with the one who, BECAUSE He loves me, tells me to throw my anxiety from me and onto Him.
And day by day, I try to do this. And some days I fail miserably, and some days I am victorious. Anxiety is a liar. She tells me that I am her and she is me. But she is anxiety and I am Bryn. I am Victorious.