I’ve been trying to figure out what brave looks like now, by remembering the days of bold. Different sets of years just feel like two radically different days and I’m connecting the dots between now and an uninterrupted, anxiety-free yesterday.
A few months ago, someone told me I have a big personality. Can you believe that? “Big.” At the time, I wanted to say, “You haven’t seen big. I’m not big right now.” That’s only because, if we’re being honest, there’s this thing called social anxiety that was choking me, in a sense. I wouldn’t have wanted to admit experiencing it, and it was making me feel much less than “big.” I’ve felt like I was shrinking, especially in view of that distant yesterday that was unbothered by it.
Today, I’m building confidence that progress has been made. This is the short version of the story. A few fight highlights, if you will.
When the battle began, all the signs were there. Some of the signs were physical, and all of it was mentally unhealthy and debilitating, I realized.
To illustrate, it looked like internally editing my thoughts over and over before my turn to speak, sometimes just scrapping the entire page.
It was noticing my tendency to throw people out instead of my own twisted coping methods.
It was finally admitting that any hindrance to my life, work, and ministry had to be shut down. “How it is isn’t how it will be,” I wrote.
And so I got up, awkwardly telling comfort that I’m sorry to interrupt. I had the nerve to write about how vulnerability is a good thing, and then quickly went to find someone to help me chase the shadows away.
I’ve been writing this on the pit stops where I evaluate the direction I’m going in. I’ve had to remember that recovery is not only talking and listening, but processing, progressing, and actively moving up. That’s how I got to a higher place in this battle to start with—through a commitment to find that way up.
It’s been a fight to not be made of 100% unexercised potential. It’s been comforting to know the God of ‘finally, be free’ love. Nonetheless, the process is still just that. I acknowledge what has developed over time and its effects. I respond by saying that yes, I do have anxiety sometimes, but it won’t have me any of the time.
The clouds seem to finally be clearing away after a couple of years in the background, directing my life cautiously from the seat of social anxiety. Now, anxious thoughts are a bit like itty bitty birds that get shot down from the sky of my mind much quicker than before.
I have a treasured note about this that says, “I’m not, He is.” I’ll survey the battle scene (perhaps joyfully) when this is hopefully over or at least leaps better, when I realize I was scratching for a victory that was never about my glory or comfort to begin with. This is a part of my story, though, and one day I’ll see the other side again. It’s up from here—however that goes, however I get there. I just have to move.