Most of the time I’m on the edge. There’s always the selected few moments when I’m feeling okay, when I’m content, when I’m chill. But most of the time I’m a bundle of nerves.
I’ve been like this for a long time. Whenever therapists and counsellors ask when I first became anxious, I don’t really know what to tell them. I say that I don’t remember, because it’s true.
This leads to a social life that’s plural and active and difficult. I’m constantly socialising, working, reaching out, and at the same time closing in and avoiding and escaping.
When I was growing up I was bullied. Or at least I thought I was bullied. I was probably bullied a bit or a little bit more than a bit. But I’m not sure if I was bullied as much as I felt I was. Some of it could’ve been my own worry and paranoia. Even if I weren’t very bullied by people, I still was a very bullied child in my head.
In adulthood I’m still worrying kind, and sometimes it becomes a real problem, but it also comes with a sense of introspection now. I can look back at my own worries and be like ‘hey, what was going on with me?’
And I can look back at my own behaviour and see it’s not always everyone else who’s the bad guy.
When I was growing up I spent a lot of time just finding blame in the others, the circumstances, the everything. I’m a real master of excuses. Being relatively good at debates and exceptional at lying to myself has really borne fruit.
But sometimes you have to catch yourself and call yourself out.
I can look back at my fights with my partner and see characteristics of harmful behaviour. I can look back at the way I talk to my friends and see how easily my words could seem dismissive when I didn’t necessarily mean them that way – often quite the opposite.
I look at the way I react to things and see that actually, I can be a very fragile person. It’s not nice. It means I get hurt easily, and when I get hurt I get defensive, and when I get defensive I become evil.
Surely a lot of that is result from spending most of my life worrying and being stressed out about a variety things, but having an explanation doesn’t mean you have an excuse.
This is why looking back at your own actions is important, and it’s important to be able to figure a way to take criticism without taking it too personally.
You have to take it personally enough to recalibrate your actions, of course, but not so much that you let yourself get hurt. Because hurt people don’t work reasonably.
The thing is, you will never stop learning, developing, growing, unless you make yourself to. And that’s the worst thing you can do to both yourself and others. You too, need peace, also with yourself.
It feels hard. If it doesn’t feel hard, I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing. But if it feels hard it means it’s working and it means you’re making a difference in your head, and hopefully in your actions too. Old habits are hard to break and relearning and unlearning behaviours isn’t simple.
So, I tell myself. Give yourself a break. Never stop learning, not out of feeling that you’re ready, nor the fear of discomfort that is inevitable. Sometimes you’re the bad guy that you must battle.