The Fear

Sometimes I love my solitude. Well, I love it a lot. I can go days without seeing anyone I know and not bat an eyelid. Some days, I revel in it.

I love the darkness too. I’ve always been a night owl, and comfortable in the dark. One of my favourite things is the moment when you’re about to go to sleep, or maybe just lying in bed trying to sleep, and you turn the lights off. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a moment of perfect blackness, perfect darkness, when you can’t tell the difference between your eyes being open or closed. No light, just perfect stillness, darkness.

There’s an analogy I once read, that some people only have so much energy to spend on certain days. Only a few things can replenish that energy, like sleep or being alone with a good book. I feel that way most days. My house, my room, and being by myself are what replenish my energy. And being with my boy. They are my safe havens.

I love my solititude, my perfect darkness, and my space.

But sometimes, I get afraid of the dark.

Sometimes, I’m afraid to be alone.

And being afraid scares me.

It comes in flashes. I’ll be hanging around with the house to myself, marathoning my favourite shows, get up to go to bed, and realise the house is so empty, so dark, that it scares me. I don’t even know why. Nothing’s ever happened, nothing is likely to happen, but I still feel the need to turn on a series of lights just to get to my room at the other end of a 10 foot hallway. The go back and turn them off behind me.

Weird, I know.

Sometimes I even open the door to my room and hesitate before going in. Only when I’m alone. Sometimes I’m not sure what’s in there. Sometimes something about it scares me. And I can’t decide if that something is an aspect of myself. Something that room perpetuates, or maybe what it represents.

Sometimes I hide there. And maybe that’s what scares me.

When I started writing this, I didn’t quite know where I was headed. That’s the beauty of writing: you can start putting things down and end up at an outcome you never expected. I think this post has taken a turn down a lane it didn’t start in – hell, I think I started a suburb away. But I’m about to follow that lane to a place in think I’ve needed to go for a while.

Sometimes I hide in my room. I hide from the world and my responsibilities and everything that scares me. It all comes knocking eventually, but I try to put it off as long as I can.

See, I have anxiety. Self-diagnosed and largely unmanaged.

And that’s the first time I’ve written that down in public.

I worked it out about a year ago. I was writing a piece for work about anxiety and depression. Through my research I found an anxiety checklist, which sounded a lot like me. My curiosity was piqued. Then I found an anxiety test – a few actually – and I gave in to my curiosity. My results ranged from mild anxiety to borderline needing medication, basically.

As I read more and more, clarity was streaming through my mind.

I had always wondered how other people got through the fear and crippling uncertainty of doing normal things like applying for jobs, or going to places they never been before, or speaking to people on the phone – because I never could. I wondered what was helping them do these things; I wanted to know so I could have it too.

But it dawned on me that day a year or so ago that they had nothing I didn’t have – I had something THEY didn’t have.
Anxiety.

People did those things because instead of fear, they had nerves or nothing even. Instead of being crippled by uncertainty, they hesitated for a moment or not at all.

I had finally found the reason behind what seemed like everything that caused me grief.

I was a shy kid. Like, can’t order food at the tuckshop in a school of 150 kids, shy. Every teacher and parent knew me, or knew of me, but I couldn’t possibly walk up and ask for Zooper Dooper please and drop 20 cents on the counter. No way. Impossible – until about grade 4. Four years of courage building and after that it was easy. I even worked in the tuckshop in grade 7.

Cue high school and I can barely speak to them again. I can order because I know the process, but then someone throws smalltalk into the mix and I’m out. I am now old enough to hold a conversation with the nice, volunteer ladies, or so they think. And by smalltalk I mean the standard “hi how are you?” that every person on earth knows how to do. *screams WHY at the sky* It’s quite frustrating, even to look back on.

But enough of my life story. The point is, my shyness turned into anxiety without me or anybody else noticing. Until now.

It’s hard. It’s hard to deal with and hard to talk about. And I’ve lost sight of where this post is going again.

Oh yeah. I’ll wrap it up here for now. Back to my room, and my fear. I have come to realise that my anxiety holds me back from a lot of things.

Sometimes, when I’m alone and I reach for my bedroom door, the untapped potential and lives I’m not living creep out from under my bed, and my safe haven becomes my prison cell.

Until next time,
L.A
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