This was me last year whenever I was invited places where socializing was a requirement: I was a liar and said I already had plans – these plans weren’t plans with other people, or at other places, they weren’t something on my calendar, and they certainly weren’t plans I was looking forward to — I was planning on how to namaste my demons.
I was planning out how I would get up from the corner of my dark kitchen. I was denying the irrational mind traps that held me captive all day in bed or made me leave work early after having a panic attack in the bathroom stall. I was telling my beating heart to stop making my chest feel like a rock concert.
I was wiping the mascara from my cheeks, taking deep breaths, and telling the ugly cry to shut the fuck up. Here’s the thing about me last year, and three years before that, and even now on bad days – this is my reasoning for not attending, not accepting invites, for not being able to show up.
I am done apologizing for my anxiety and depression — they are part of me. And because of them I have been forced to be okay with me, myself, and I. Alone in this mad world of unexpected panic and feeling as if I’m literally going to die, or finding a dark room more pleasant than the sun.
I may be alone in these moments, but I rarely feel lonely. My grandma Mickey (yes that’s her God-given name), told me that once – she has been married twice, two marriages lasting more than 30-yrs each, and after both loves of her life passed – she is now finding her footing at the age of 83 – alone – and the way she lives her life always reminds me how similar we are – she not only taught me these life knowledge nuggets, but she embodies them today.
I may be alone, but even in my darkest chaotic moments, I am not lonely. I don’t particularly care for the bar scene anymore, or going out on the town – and believe me that in itself is a miracle. I was once a party girl – a social butterfly who lived for a night out and an early morning return home.
I am now humbled by those experiences and are grateful for what they taught me, but more importantly I have come to terms with my mental illnesses and what limitations they force upon me. Keep in mind the word limitation does not mean weak or unable – it just means I know what I am okay with and what I am willing to put myself and my service dog through in order to have fun.
So I sit here, after having just replied to an invite – but this year, my replies read like this: “Really appreciate the invite – truly makes my heart smile – but today Oakley and I prefer to stay in and self-care, and prefer smaller crowds and the semi-predictable environments when we are able to say yes”.
Will I say no to everything – of course not – but this year – I no longer feel guilty or even hesitate to broadcast why I must protect my wellness, I am upfront and no longer feel like I have to lie or hide my truth – my tribe knows, they get me – and the ones that don’t – have no place in my world.