Just Breathe

I think in this world of perfectly curated squares, the idea of vulnerability can be a scary thing. No one likes to talk about pain or struggle because it’s not pretty. It’s not perfect. It’s ugly and messy and honestly, does anyone really want to see it? But I think it’s equally as important to talk about those non-ideal times. So I will. Maybe it’s more cathartic for me to write it. As it were, once upon a time, I wanted to be a writer. There’s still that welling up with words inside me – desperately needing a way out.

I got engaged a month ago. To my Tall One. For those who have had the pleasure of meeting him, know how kind and warm-hearted he is. He’s one of those people who will always go out of his way to make other people happy. I am completely over the moon to be engaged to him. All of the normal feelings of engagement came coursing through me: excitement, joy, love, hope. The ones you expect, the ones you read about.

About two weeks later I had my first panic attack. I couldn’t breathe. My body broke out in hives. I was physically and mentally a mess. It happened again the next day. And the next. And the next. I found myself avoiding social situations because what the hell was I going to tell my happy hour companion when I all of a sudden needed to run to the bathroom because the walls felt like they were closing in?

I am 30. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. Aside from the normal day to day worries, I’ve never felt this type of true anxiety. The lack of control and the total and complete onslaught of these panic attacks brought me to the doctor. Am I crazy? Am I losing my mind? And most importantly, why now? Why during the the happiest time of my life am I experiencing total and complete meltdowns?

“Life change,” the doctor says. It’s a life change. Even if it’s a happy change (hello getting married to my favorite person ever) it’s still B-I-G. He urged me to take some time to think about where these feelings are coming from, what they mean, and how I can work through them. Therapy with a side of Xanax. I’ll take it.

What I’ve come away with is fear. And it’s not the normal “bridezilla” fear of matching place cards or old racist Uncle Bob embarrassing me. But it’s more a feeling of getting older. Making that final transition into adulthood. Time is ticking away and maybe it didn’t FEEL like it until I saw my gorgeous sparkler on my left hand.  While I haven’t been a child for some time now, there was nothing definitively there to say I was an adult. No “then” and “now” or marker in the sand saying “that’s the point when things officially changed.”

Change is good. Change moves us forward and keeps us from stagnation. But so much of change is gradual. It’s different over a few months or a few years. It’s not usually something to pinpoint. But this overwhelming sense of specific change, it’s an entirely different beast. It is becoming a new family and shedding an old identity. It’ll be different than it is now. I can see it coming. I know it’s coming. I am thrilled. And terrified. Because emotions can be there together, all once, jumbled together.

My state of fragileness at this time in my life is not something I expected. It’s not a place where I feel comfortable staying. But I think it’s important to feel what I need to feel. Even if that means saying I am not feeling 100% ok right now. Even if I can’t say I know my reasonings for absolute certainty. I’ve always been one to need my alone time, to sort through my feelings and emotions. So for those broken dates, brunches I’ve canceled at the last minute, and parties I have RSVP’d “no” to… I wanted to let you know that this time, it’s not you. It’s me.

This sensitive little heart of mine is going through a bit of upheaval. I am one giant ball of emotion right now. I did not expect it but nevertheless, it is there. Maybe this is too personal to send out into the universe. But I do really believe the truth behind the “perfection” is more important than some false idea of what someone has of me. Thanks for listening. For commiserating. And hopefully, not judging. Deep breaths until then… 

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  • Reply
    Jessica Wassenaar
    November 14, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    Oh girl, been there. Different life changes caused my panic attacks, but nonetheless. It’s terrfying when it happens. I got to the point that work meetings were unbearable if doors were closed because it felt trapped, suffocated. I’m sure you’ve got plenty of people to talk to, but feel free to get ahold of me as well.

  • Reply
    November 14, 2017 at 7:33 pm

    This is so beautifully written. Your vulnerability is inspiring. Thank you for your courage to put your experience into words.

    Let me tell you: you are not alone! Anxiety is so crazy and confusing! it takes you by surprise and zigs and zags and cycles and multiplies. BUT it gets better. You learn coping mechanisms and you learn how to feel it coming. I’m not perfect at catching mine nor coping but I’m better and better all the time!

    Know you are loved and supported and you can break out in hives or peace mid-HH anytime on my watch, lady!

    Holler at me if you wanna chat! 😘

  • Reply
    November 23, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    Great read. It’s part of life. I turned 30 quietly. I cried and questioned my life decisions and all my life’s decisions and brought me to that point in my life. Take hope in knowing that we are our worst critics and as long as we are working on bettering ourselves, we are doing just great.

    Ps. Your style is impeccable.

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