Finding Friends ~ When you are an infant you do not need friends. All you really need is a bottle, or nipple of sorts, someone to change your diaper, cuddle and someone to put you to bed. Which is what I need nearing fifty too if I am honest except the nipple, got two already thanks. When you are young kids, parents have you playing with siblings or cousins, which can be an amazing experience or pure torture. Now a days, parents seem to arrange play dates for their children, literally scheduling time when they can play. When I was a kid, in the 70’s, I had to go outside to play. There was no all day television channels for me to watch. No laptop, PS3, Wii, or Ipod to entertain my imaginative mind. I had to venture outside into the wilderness of my street in hopes that some other kid dared to say he or she was bored, so their parents kicked them outside too. When you are in your teen years, you are put into “groups”. Think of The Breakfast Club, and if you have not seen this movie, get out from under that rock and watch it NOW. I’ll wait……… There are the cool kids, the mean girls, the jocks, the nerds, the stoners, the drama club kids, YOU get the picture. You can find yourself differnent groups of friends daily. In college or university years, you end up being friends with your roommates or study a lot on a Friday night. ( no judgment here and your liver will thank you). When you become a parent yourself, you may find yourself in Mommy and Me groups or meet other women at the park. These friendships will last as long as your children like each other. Once little Sarah bites little Melanie, all shit hits the friendship fan. Some people even become friends with their neighbours but they move and the new owners are from a cult or are Trump supporters. The older you get, the harder it is to find friends. You perhaps moved, changed jobs, divorced, were widowed, children moved out or had an illness. Some how you found yourself without a lot of girlfriends to hang with. Some women join Facebook groups in hope to connect with others in the same area as they are or that have the same interests as they do. There is events online daily in meet up groups to. Just like online dating sites, you can find your new bestie online .I have found making friends fairly easy for most of my life so I am on the lucky side of the equation. I always mangaged to have someone to play with when I was young. I always managed to have someone to hang with when I was a teenager. I was never home on a weekend night as I always found something to do. When I had children, I still had my friends from my early twenties to hang out with and vent to. Things changed when we moved and my husband got cancer. I knew no one in my new city and my family did not live close. I made some friends through my children but when I became a widow, all those friendships stopped. Actually, alot of my friendships phased out. I can not pinpoint exactly what the reason was but I was suddenly alone a lot. I am sure it is hard when you want to vent about your husband but worried the widow might think you are selfish. Some even felt uncomfortable that I was suddenly a single woman around their husbands. It still amazes me how people react to a widow, especially a younger one. I still get that stigma of being a widow/single woman around married couples. I find it bizarre. I do however keep to myself more than I have ever in the past due to anxiety and circumstance. When you have anxiety, especially social anxiety mixed with agoraphobia, it makes having actual friendships difficult. Most humans love to be out and enjoy life. I have a hard time sometimes leaving my house. At first people are understanding but after the tenth time I have cancelled plans with them, it gets old. I know it is not their fault as they can’t fully comprehend my illness. I am fortunate right now to have four women who I can call my friends. I trust them entirely and love them like sisters. If I need them, they are there, no judgement. They may not completely understand my anxiety and all things “ME”, but they try to, which is more then I ask for. They allow me to vent and complain even about the little things in my world. I listen to them and give advice when I can too. I can be me and not feel insecure while doing so. They make me feel comfortable in my skin. We are all different ages, ranging 32 to 49. All but myself, have only boys. One is single never married, one is common law, two are married and I claim widow status. All come from different childhoods. Some how it all works for us as a group of women trying to find balance on this ride of life that does not come with seat belts. I would be lost in this chapter of my life if it were not for these five unique women. I don’t feel alone. They are my tribe that I found with my vibe.
Everyone can have anxiety but not everyone has anxiety. There really is no quick fix for anxiety. There are ways to cope throughout the day however that may work for you. I find that not all aides work for everyone. Sometimes you have to do many to settle the beast we all know as anxiety.
JOURNAL - Grab that pen at the bottom of your purse and write down those thoughts that are blurring your mind. If you can not find a pen or pencil, that crayon your kid just tried to eat will do just fine too. Seeing your fears and thoughts on paper may help reduce feeling anxious. I type sometimes when I can't get through an anxiety attack, which could explain some of my grammar mistakes! Typing at two in the morning while your heart is pounding may not be a note for the public eye without editing.
SUPPORT- Sit down and make a list of the people in your life that you call, text or send a carrier pigeon to, when you are anxiety ridden. It could be family, friends or a counselor that you know will reduce that feeling of overwhelming fear. If you don't have anyone that you can call, look up help lines that specialize in anxiety and mental health. There is always someone out in the universe who will listen.
SELF CARE-I feel that taking care of yourself first should be priority in every persons life regardless of circumstance. You can't take care of someone else if you are not well mentally, emotionally or physically. Even if it is taking that extra five minutes to yourself to catch your breath before you start the day. Eating proper meals that include healthy foods will only benefit your health overall.
SLEEP- Remember sleep? Some of us really do not sleep as we are part vampire! I know I do not get enough sleep and that is not helping settle the beast. Not enough sleep makes most people edgy and irritable which only pushes anxiety levels higher. Too much sleep however, can be a sign of other issues such as depression. Find that happy medium if you can and let me know your secret when you do!
EXERCISE- This is the most painful yet rewarding of these methods as you will end up with a kick ass body and a healthier you. I hate to workout as I have stated numerous times but I know in the long run ( see what I did there, "run") it will benefit me. Even five or ten minutes a day will help. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk your kids to school instead of driving them. While you are waiting for dinner to cook or the washing machine to stop, dance like no one is watching. I prefer no one to watch me dance as I look like a deranged wild animal caught in barbed wire. My lack of coordination does not help me with rhythm. Just move! Exercise really does increase the levels of tryptophan in the brain which is used to produce serotonin. You will feel better all over!
LISTEN- I love to listen to music as it really can change my mood instantly. Pop in earphones and listen to your favourite song. I also listen to podcasts, the funnier the better whenever I know I am going to do something that causes my anxiety to roar. It will help shift your focus off the anxiety and will become a useful tool in calming you. Laughter and music are key to my survival each day.
If you are reading this and have other daily methods that work for you, please share in the comments. I would love to try new ways to put those anxious feelings at a far distance!
To continue on in life you must first take that initial step into the unknown. I know I need to take that damn step but I must go through a wall of anxiety first. Having anxiety builds a wall around a person sometimes locking them inside against their will. When your pulse races, your heart pounds, your mouth goes dry and you feel like the earth shift beneath your feet, that wall is sometimes comforting. I know if that wall is there, then I can stay behind it and hide from the world. Even as I type all this my chest tightens just enough to remind me that I am anxiety's bitch. Anxiety loves to let you have just enough length in your leash to let you think you are healed. Perhaps you finally agree to go out to dinner with friends or a movie. You shower and pick out an outfit. You start to apply make up while jamming to your favourite tune. Then suddenly out of no where, you feel agitated and your stomach starts to do back flips. You feel your throat start to close up. Then panic creeps slowly into your mind. You know you must make that decision. That decision to call your friends and say you are not well or push through the fear. A very high percentage of the time, I will just cancel as I am scared of the outcome if I go. My heart sinks to the depths of my stomach as I know that once again I am anxiety's bitch. Once again anxiety has won. Once again, I will sit at home waiting for updates on social media of my friends enjoying their night out. I am tired of being me. I not only want change, I need change. I crave a better life for me and I know I can get it. Time is being wasted and I am done wasting time. This is a journey that I will have to make mostly on my own but I know that is the only way for me to heal. Today I will start to remove that wall. Today I will remove one brick maybe even two. I will escape from this containment. I will not let anxiety win. Stay tuned.
I have for years tried to make you my bitch but you always roar your ugly presence just when I think it is safe. They always say to face your fears, to push yourself to the edge, to accept. I have accepted that my mind will fear anxiety for life until I get to the edge of the dark side. I am no longer going to try to fight you or to be the way society thinks I should be. I am me. I am your bitch. I will allow you to take me but I will walk beside you, sometimes through you, but I will not fight you. I am emotionally and physically exhausted from the fight that I have forced myself into for far too long. I am at peace with being your bitch. Hell, we can now be friends. The very least frenemies!