A few years ago I was hanging out with my sister in law Hilleary at a bridal shower. We’re notorious for scoping out the dessert table and behaving badly at “formal” family functions – making raunchy jokes in the back of the pack; laughing out loud at inappropriate times.
Hilleary also wrestles with anxiety and has a great sense of humor.
So, there we were nibbling anything we could get our hands on and talking about feeling claustrophobic. You know how showers can get – too many people shoe-horned into a small space, oohing and aahing over houseware products, going on for hours on end. As much as we adored the hostess, we were just over it.
Noticing a sliding glass door, we had the following conversation.
“Oh my God, I’m so ready to go home. You think we can just sneak out the back door?”
“Well, if I was a super hero, I would fly right through that glass door and get out of here!”
“Yeah, how about an anxiety super hero!”
“Able to flee social situations in a single bound!”
Over the years, I’ve had lots of fun visuals of Anxiety Girl fleeing social situations in a single bound; running away at lightening speed from speaking engagements; using her super powers to transport herself to California instead of flying in an airplane.
Of course, Anxiety Girl’s real power comes from staying in the feared situation. Her real courage is in feeling the wave of fear build up – feeling the dread that something very wrong is about to happen – and, despite her worries, diving head first into the swell and floating on the other side. Avoidance is her kryptonite and exposure breaks those chains.