I hate weakness. I remember as a kid, my grandpa called me “sissy” one time. Thinking back, he one hundred percent meant it as “sister” in definition, but I remember being so mad at him. “I am NOT a sissy!” I yelled and then refused to talk to him for an extended period of time.
Still another time, my baseball playing mother was trying to improve my throw. “Quit throwing like a girl” she said. I remember bristling at that because I didn’t want to do anything “like a girl” and had been trying most of my life to prove that I could do things as good as if not better than my brothers.
In my anger at being called weak, I wound up and threw as hard as I possibly could—sacrificing precision for velocity (whatever precision am elementary age kid possesses anyway). That ball traveled hard and fast—and right through the back window of our van. (And I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my mom’s good response: “well, at least you threw it harder.”)
This is pretty much a metaphor for my life. I try to prove I’m not weak, even if I am, and tend to go off half-cocked sometimes and make a mess. I try to not do things like…well…like me. (Cuz news flash. I still to this day throw like a girl—a girl with a good arm and good aim—an ex-all star girl—but I’ll always throw like a girl cuz I am one.
The truth is I don’t want to rely on other people or things. I should be able to do everything myself and perfectly—the first time. I should be able to control everything and people should be able to say wow she’s amazing.
I’ve realized fierce independence may just be another symptom of both trauma and anxiety. Ugh….anxiety…for sure a thorn in my side. I have spent so much of my life trying to control it, to hide it, to prove that I’m better than it. But I cannot and I am not.
Several years ago, post my first panic attack (which let’s be real. People who know me are probably surprised it took me that long to have one), I agreed to a “short term” medication trial for anxiety…and therapy of all things. Both of these felt like failure or fully embracing the crazy, but the medication was then and continues to be the hardest pill to swallow (pun absolutely intended). I wrote that first day, “I picked up failure from the pharmacy today” and in a lot of ways I still feel that way.
My therapist asked me early on what my goals were and getting off medication (the medication I’d been on for like 2 weeks at that point…probably not even enough to reach efficacy) was my big goal. Why? Because I shouldn’t need that. I shouldn’t embrace the crazy. I should be able to control it without that.
Disclaimer—does medication help me? 100% yes. Do I hate very idea of it? Also 100% yes. Maybe even 150%.
What I realized yesterday is thinking that I can function well without medication is kind of egotistical. It has been proven at this point (several times actually) that it is likely an actual chemical issue. (Thanks grandmas…yes both of them. Genetics is not kind). Thinking that I can, in my own power, change that really is a higher opinion of myself than I should have. I judge no one else on the planet badly for taking medication. So do I think I’m better than them? Yikes—gut check.
Like my therapist reminded me this very week, it is an actual medical condition. It’s no different than the hefty doses of heart medication it takes to keep my heart in line—the medication I have zero feelings of weakness over cuz who can control their heart? The not-so hefty doses it takes to keep my brain in line shouldn’t elicit any feelings either.
But it does. I am working on that. I am working on admitting weakness, leaning into it even and letting go of self-sufficiency somewhat. It’s ok to be able to do things but when we think we need no one ever, that’s when we are headed for a rude awakening. I am trying to remember that it’s ok, safe and actually good to need people. If I only ever need myself, then I miss out on some really good experiences with people, and if I only need myself, then I don’t need God either. That my friends is absolutely not true but is a curse of terminal self-sufficiency.
So today I am admitting that I do need people—and medicine—and God (probably in reverse order).
Also my new dose is a lot prettier of a pill. And if you have to take crazy pills, they might as well be pretty colors.