Throughout the days leading up to my departure many asked if I was excited. Although a part of me was, the excitement was overshadowed by anxiety, by fear.
“Are you afraid of flying?” they’d ask.
“No. I’m afraid of bed bugs and terrorism.”
We’d share a laugh and I knew how ridiculous I sounded as soon as those words escaped my mouth.
All of my fears have two commonalities. They are all things over which I feel I have no control and no matter how utterly preposterous, my mind has a difficult time turning them away. I end up completely consumed, picturing the worst possible outcome. I fixate on these created scenarios in such a way that makes their eventual occurrence seem inevitable.
My best friend who happened to be my hotel roommate for the weekend was kind enough to check the bed for bugs. Her confirmation that it was clear lifted a huge weight from my shoulders.
A few hours after getting settled we sat at an outdoor patio and enjoyed some cold drinks. Shortly thereafter I noticed several bites on my leg and my mood immediately shifted. Everyone assured me they appeared to be mosquito bites but I couldn’t accept that. I kept itching and panicking and surely annoying the hell out of everyone. I eventually noticed I was becoming the type of company that nobody wants on vacation and I told myself to mask my mood and put a smile on my face.
In the middle of the night I experienced a common occurrence for me where I wake up reacting to what’s happening in my dream thinking instead that it is reality. My husband is now used to this, my best friend, not so much.
I woke up screaming and jumped out of bed finding my way to the light switch. My friend awoke frightened. I had been dreaming about little black bugs crawling on the bed next to my face. The dream felt so real, but it was just that, a dream. My friend was so alarmed, her heart was pounding, her impression of me surely altered. I was embarrassed, I felt awful. I cried myself to sleep that night.
In the morning I apologized for my outburst. We had a long talk and she expressed how concerned she was for me. She said she didn’t realize the anxiety had gotten to that point. She feared it was consuming my life. I told her I’ve gotten better, I really have. She wasn’t convinced.
That conversation helped me more than I think she realizes. The anxiety, the fear, the worries, they really were consuming my life and to have her say it out loud was exactly what I needed. I was tired of allowing my fears to stop me from living. I was angered, I was exhausted, I was done! I told myself I had to enjoy this trip, with only two days left, I needed to let go of it all and to just be. And so I did.
I felt like a different person on the two days that followed. I felt light, I felt free, I felt powerful. I was in control of my life for once. My mind, body & soul all working together towards my ultimate goal of happiness. I had no time to be worried. From that point on, the sun felt warmer, the sky looked bluer, the sand felt softer, the food tasted better.
On my plane ride back home I told myself that I would no longer be that weak little girl whose fear of the world was limiting her growth, clouding her joy.
When I returned to work the following day I felt more carefree than I can ever remember feeling in my entire adult life. Everything that worried me only days ago seemed so small now, so insignificant, so unworthy of my time.
I told my coworker about my amazing trip and shared all of the funny and memorable moments I was fortunate to experience. When I was asked how I managed vacationing with anxiety, my response was immediate, and pronounced with such ease and conviction that my memory of that moment will always be vivid in my heart. With great satisfaction I responded, “Fuck the anxiety!”. That phrase has since become a staple in my vocabulary.