my old friend

by mraynes


anxiety has been a near constant companion since childhood. sitting, uninvited on my chest, and whispering nasty things in my ear. at time i have pushed him off and told him to go away. he will stay away for a while but always–always–he comes back, wrapping himself around my torso and daring me to move.

over time i have learned how to move him, carrying him piggyback through my days. i have found that the busier i am the lighter he gets. this is the reason i have three children five and under, am pursuing a graduate degree, writing a thesis when only a capstone paper is required, actively engaged in my religious community, writing for three blogs and heavily invested in mormon feminist activism. when i am doing well at all of those things i barely remember that my old friend anxiety even exists.

but there are days.

days when anxiety gains two hundred pounds and then climbs right on top of my heart. i am paralyzed, unable to do any of the things that would render him irrelevant. and he laughs at me.

the laughing is the worst. even when i’m doing well–when anxiety is just a chip on my shoulder–he laughs at me. he tells me i will never be good enough. i try not to be alone with him. i listen to NPR all day long. i find that the talking soothes my friend and even shuts him up occasionally.

at night we listen to Doug Fabrizio, Ira Glass or Jad Abumrad because anxiety likes them. he nestles into my neck and within ten minutes his breath is deep and hot. and then i smile to myself and say “ahhh, he is finally asleep. now i can rest.”

i have been told that there are pills i could take that would disappear my old friend. years of pregnancy and nursing made this impossible. but i have recently threatened to take them. anxiety is becoming a bigger burden.

for now i am not following through. mostly because i am afraid. what would i do without anxiety? what would i be?

i am told i would be content.

but i never want to be only content.