Reminders For My Future Jerkbrain

I’m going to be very self indulgent in this post so if you don’t want to hear about me, that’s fine but you probably don’t want to keep reading. I’m going to write this post because last night I felt proud of myself. Pride is not a normal emotion for me, and in this case it was pride about work that I had done emotionally and mentally, which almost never happens. I don’t see people encouraged to share their moments of growth and pride very often or very publicly, but I want to write this down and share it openly so that when I am scared or worried or self hating, I can use this against myself and my jerkbrain. I want evidence that I did these things.

I have successfully done so many things this week that a year ago would probably have been completely impossible. I navigated a Con with over 6000 people without feeling any anxiety. I even talked to a number of new people for fairly extended periods of time. I even made new friends who I have now hung out with since then (which is a serious accomplishment in and of itself). I danced and I talked on panels and I didn’t panic or hide or need oodles of alone time. I enjoyed myself, completely unabashedly.

I’ve spent most of the week at work on the phone, talking to angry customers. I have so much anxiety about talking on the phone, in the past I have spent days avoiding making phone calls. And yet this week, multiple days, I went into work, jumped on the phone and plowed through dozens of calls to people who were unhappy and frustrated and confused. I looked directly at something that scared me and made me feel incompetent and I did it. I felt confused and lost in my job, not quite sure what was going on or what I needed to be doing, and I still showed up and moved forward and didn’t beat myself up.

This week I asked friends for help. I told them what was bothering me and what I was scared of and let them know that I needed to talk. It didn’t completely get rid of symptom use, but as terrifying as it is to in the moment of anxiety let someone know what’s going on, it helped. I’ve almost never done that before. I’ve never been strong enough to look my jerkbrain in the eye and tell it that I wasn’t going to put up with its shit and that I was calling in reinforcements. I actually felt brave for a minute. I felt like I wasn’t falling apart, but I was actually making choices about what would happen to my mind and my body.

Perhaps even scarier, I honestly told people how I felt and asked them how they felt. I set boundaries. I asked for clarity. I was vulnerable. I let myself truly like people that I didn’t know very well and I let myself tell them. I refused to let myself fall prey to waiting around and wondering and admiring from afar. I wanted something to happen and so I did it. I made things happen. It feels kind of amazing. I started to build friendships through my own power just by saying words.

Yesterday, I looked at my body and I didn’t feel ashamed. I danced. I celebrated. I smiled. This may not seem like “accomplishing”, but pulling my eyes away from things that in the past would have been the only thing I saw. More than anything else I’ve done this week, seeing myself and smiling is probably the hardest thing I’ve done.

And on the “things I should always have done” front, I realized yesterday just how much love I was feeling for the people in my life, how many amazing people I have around me. And so I did something about that. I didn’t just sit around feeling awesome that I have cool friends, but I told them. It feels fucking awesome to tell people how cool they are.

These are things I need to remember. They may seem unimportant, but they are evidence that I am growing and that’s amazing.

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