I’m a scaredy cat.
A lot my fears are really based in my anxieties which cause my brain to overreact with “FLIGHT! FLIGHT! FLIGHT!” chemicals (There is no “fight” option for me) which are already at a higher baseline than the average person. I have panic attacks when I’m driving in high traffic, strange cities, urban areas, large interstates etc. I get headaches when I have to go into many social situations. I avoid most anything “new” which means NO part of me that has wanderlust because every part of traveling outside our country involves something new which causes me more terror than enjoyment.
See? Scaredy cat.
I’ve conquered a lot of my anxieties in a lot of moments to help me become a more functioning adult. I have friends. I drove in Chattanooga last week. (WHAT???) I volunteered for a non-people task at a political campaign. But all-in-all, I know I’m still a chicken and terrified of everything and while – YES – it’s all related to my brain’s production of fear chemicals being in overdrive and impairing my ability to function “normally” – it’s still something I’m very ashamed about. Especially when it comes to my husband because so much of his life involved working around my anxieties.
He had a work function recently that I thought was going to kill me. It was a murder mystery dinner which meant actors were hired to perform some sort of improv murder story that INVOLVED SOME OF US IN ATTENDANCE and there was a lot of “playing along” that was supposed to happen and the only person I really knew was my husband and all of that mixed in with the fact that this was a WORK thing and I needed to be – you know – NOT A FREAK – made it a rough night. I did the best I could which mainly meant staying hidden and praying none of the actors tried to rope me into any of the story.
(THE DID NOT, THANK GOD.)
Donnie was so appreciative that I came along, knowing how big of a deal it was and how hard it was for me. But every time he thanked me I was almost embarrassed that I was the person that had to be thanked profusely for doing something that MOST people consider fun. It reminded me how much of a scaredy cat I am and it brought up feelings of shame I often have to deal with when I have to turn down requests from friends or family because of my anxieties.
(For the record, I rarely blame my anxieties. I usually come up with a more “palatable” excuse, but one time I specifically told a volunteer coordinator at a campaign: DO NOT MAKE ME DO ANYTHING WITH PEOPLE. I HAVE TERRIBLE SOCIAL ANXIETIES AND I DON’T WANT TO BE BLAMED IF HE LOSES.)
I’ve just been feeling ashamed lately. And while I know 100% that I’m functioning better than I have in the past and I 100% know that I still conquer a lot of my anxieties to do things that scare me, I still feel like that I’m a scaredy cat scared of ALL THE THINGS and I get down on myself.
All of this prep was so you will understand my headspace when my husband and I had a conversation two days ago about my car. I was driving him to/from some doctor’s appointments (he’s having back issues) and I saw someone passed me very closely through my rearview mirror and I cursed and said something like, “Jeezus. That guy was like one inch from hitting me, there’s tons of room, why did he have to pass me so close?”
Donnie said, “It’s probably your car and the stickers on the back.”
Now, I don’t have any outright political stickers with candidates names or anything. Most of my stickers are from PLACES like Denver and Kitt Peak and Mt. Leconte. BUT, I do have a COEXIST sticker and a HRC sticker and a rainbow flag/Green Man Brewery sticker so it doesn’t take much to guess how I lean politically, but as far as a “political car” goes, I feel like mine is more: HIPPIE than DEMOCRAT. But, I understood what he meant because we do live in a Red State full of Trump supporters and we are in a time of political division so…maybe?
I told him, “Sometimes I think about that. Like, I wonder if someone is a jerk on the road because of my stickers. But they’re not really political, as far as stickers go.”
And then he said: “I’m always scared to drive your car because of those stickers.”
AND THEN I DIED.
My husband? Scared of something I am not scared of? Does that mean, maybe my car stickers make me BRAVE?
And then I started thinking about how vocal I am on social media about my politics and my views on religion, and I wondered? AM I BRAVE THEN TOO?
I mean, it’s going to seem silly but I have been REALLY down on myself lately about how much my anxieties seem to keep me from doing things. I have really politically active friends who try to get me to door knock and join political groups and I just don’t. While I was just as terrified reading this article about young people who don’t vote, I kinda related to the people who get anxiety from certain things. I was terrified the first time I voted, worried I’d do it wrong and get in trouble. I’ve been really focusing on my failures lately because of my anxieties.
BUT NOW! Now I see that maybe sometimes I do things other people are scared of. Maybe I’m brave in ways I don’t realize because it comes easily. I AM SO PROUD OF MY CAR. I love the stickers because I feel like it serves as a brief synopsis of who I am so that if we meet and you see my car you will know quite a bit about me and can avoid me if you don’t like my stickers.
I’ve been thinking of other things that I do fine…like deal with home repair people or pest control people. I can take my car to the mechanic (although don’t make me go to one of those drive-thru oil change places) and meet new therapists. There are a lot of things I can do because I’ve conquered anxieties and then there are lot of things (like stickers on my car) I’ve never feared. So maybe I’m not COMPLETELY terrified of everything in life.
Just most things.