Have you ever felt really truly happy? I mean that happy where you can feel it radiating out of you. The kind where you’re not just smiling with your mouth, but with your whole face. You know what I’m talking about; Your smile is so big your cheeks hurt, your eyes are bright with laughter and your skin is glowing.
I’m going to guess that you answered that you have been this happy.
You’re lucky. I’m not sure that I had until this past year. Now I never what to lose it.
I’ve suffered from anxiety my whole life. It has left its mark on most of my life. When I look back on my happiest times, I can also remember the doubts that seeped into my brain. They were always there. My brain never allowed me to fully enjoy any part of my life. Thoughts about my next word, the next step, my stupidity, the fat roll, the awkwardness would always be right there like a tick feeding off my blood. It was draining. Every social situation was exhausting.
I can easily recall a time when I was 3 or 4 years old and with my brother. My brother was my hero back then (still is). As a child, I followed him around constantly. On this particular day, we were in his room and he was entertaining me by making up the absolute silliest stories ever. I was laughing so hard that I had tears streaming down my face. We were in our own little world that day for hours. My mother, later in life, would tell me she hid outside door, listening in on us and enjoying the laughter of her children. This wasn’t uncommon for my brother and I. We were together a lot. He never pushed me away; always happy to have me with him and his friends. He’s always been my best friend, my biggest supporter (and fan!). But when I think about that day in his room, even though I was happy beyond belief, I was also afraid; afraid I wasn’t cool enough, smart enough, funny enough to keep my brother interested in hanging out with me. I didn’t want the fun to end, but I was sure that when it did end, it would be because of something I did. These fears are nothing my brother caused (I did mention he adores me), but they were there. My brain has this thing it likes to do; it enjoys feeding into my doubts about myself. The doubts that tell me I’ll never be good enough for anyone.
I recognize now that those thoughts I was having were not normal; not normal for an adult and definitely not normal for a toddler. But they were my normal. They were all I’ve ever known.
I’ve spent most of my life wondering if people I met really liked me. I just assumed they were putting up with me for one reason or another. Even I know this is insane. I may not always be my biggest fan, but I know I’m a good person with a big heart who really tries to always take the feelings of others into consideration. Knowing this about myself, why would I assume that people whom I call my friends don’t consider me one? Why? Because my brain is messed up!
I’m a little angry that it’s been my own brain that has been holding me back.
It’s frustrating to have to constantly question if my intuition is speaking to me or my anxiety. Even those times when deep down I KNOW to my core that it’s my anxiety, I still try to convince myself that it’s not the anxiety.
But this past year has been different, and I don’t quite know why.
Maybe it’s because I’ve challenged myself in the most wonderful ways?
Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten rid of most of the negative people who were in my life?
Maybe I’m just getting to an age where I don’t care what people think anymore?
It’s probably a mix of all 3 and more.
This past year, I’ve become a different person. I challenge myself constantly; I’m in a state of continuous growth. If I want to go somewhere, experience something new and I have no one to tag along with me, I just go alone now. I am so much more secure in myself.
I’m having problems putting all of this into words, but as I write this, on Saturday morning, I feel more present than ever. I’m sitting on my couch, still in my super comfortable pajamas, drinking out of my “Annie” coffee mug and writing this blog as “Law and Order: SVU” plays on the tv in the background (Hello, Raul Esparza and Danny Pino!).
And I’m happy.
It’s a happiness I first realized I was feeling in London this past April. I wrote a tweet that said “I’m happy right now. Like truly, unbelievably happy. I can feel my smile coming from deep down within me. Make that happen for yourself! No one else will give that to you”.
Do I still suffer from anxiety? Always. And I probably always will. That’s ok though. I just remind myself how much stronger it makes me. I know if I can gather up the courage to try something new then I’ve really accomplished something because it took me so much more strength than it would for the average person. It’s the one time I can acknowledge I am a super hero. Seriously, I am.
None of this has been easy for me, but it’s been worth it. It’s worth it because I can finally feel that happiness I tweeted about in April. I am relying on only myself to create my joy.
My life is changing. It’s exhilarating. It’s frightening. It’s exactly where I want to be.
I’m finally at a place in my life where I can say I’m proud of myself.
I am full of a peace I have never known.
I am full of a happiness that overwhelms me.
And I will do everything in my power to make these feelings last for the rest of my life.