Subtitle: Reason #496 Why I Hate My Brain.
Swim team season officially ended last night with our banquet. I no longer have to stress about the 100,000 things I keep messing up in my volunteer job and so you would think I would have slept like a damn baby. It’s over! No more worries!
Except that I was up until 1am replaying 1,000 different things in my mind that I said or did…that I hated.
I tried everything. I tried my meditation app. I tried my sleepy-time music. I tried reading. I tried drawing. I tried writing. I tried podcast episodes I’ve heard before. Honestly? In the end? I think I just passed out. And then had nightmares about public speaking.
This is why it’s an anxiety disorder. Everyone experiences anxiety, but when your brain hyper-fixates on things with worry that have no bearing on your health or safety or happiness…that’s a disordered pattern. Basically, I know that last night was lovely and while I’m not great at accepting public appreciation (I had to bite my cheeks to keep from crying and made them bleed), I feel awkward constantly, and I ramble if you give me a microphone…nothing went poorly. It was lovely and fun and and great end to the season…BUT MY BRAIN WOULD NOT STOP MAKING ME WATCH IT OVER 1,000 TIMES ANALYZING ALL OF THE THINGS I SHOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY.
I decided to start my morning calmly painting.
And just to let you a little behind the curtain here, this is what I put on instagram.
Do you see that caption? The photo is of one of my painted gratitude cards with a quote from Brené Brown and the caption says, “It’s a good morning to paint some gratitude cards. My heart is full.”
WHAT A DAMN LIAR I AM!
My heart is full, don’t get me wrong. IT IS FULL OF ANXIETY.
This is what I truly hate about my anxiety disorder. It robs me of my joy. The parents and the coaches all said wonderful things about me and gave me way too generous of gifts and I got flowers and hugs and everyone told me they loved me and when you read all of those words you must think: WHAT AN AMAZING NIGHT!
And the non-disordered part of my brain agrees with you.
But the other part hyper-analyzes every little moment and critiques every word and gesture and laugh and basically won’t let me bask in any of the gratitude and joy of the evening because it’s too busy replaying 100 different moments and telling me: THIS IS WHY NO ONE LIKES YOU, KIM.
I hate my brain.
It helps to be aware of this. It helps to be able to say, “Kim. This is your anxiety disorder trying to ruin a lovely night. DO NOT GIVE IT THAT POWER.” A decade ago I wouldn’t have been able to see past the anxiety fog to bask in the joy and appreciation. I can at least push the curtain of worry aside and see the night for the beauty that it was. But I can’t hold it back for long. And when I’m tired it’s harder so I basically just stayed awake most of the night last night hating myself for being [fill in the blank with whatever negative trait I was hyper-fixating on in any particular moment.]
It’s hard. It’s exhausting. It’s the kind of thing that kept me home for years. I wouldn’t be social. I wouldn’t volunteer for groups. I wouldn’t accept invitations. The aftermath was always too much and I couldn’t see through the deception of my anxiety to the truth which has been necessary for me to live beyond my disorder:
Being a human – an authentic human – is messy. Being sincere in your movements throughout life will never yield perfection because we are beautifully imperfect. But…it is in that sincere authenticity that we find the greatest connections of love and friendship. Without the messy awkwardness, our connections would remain at the surface. So, I accept the mess for the heart beneath it all. If I only walked through doors where I could avoid that messy awkwardness, I would miss out on the wonderful connections I have made with people in the last decade of my healing.
So I will try to focus on that today. On the beautiful mess that is living as an authentic human.