Of Anxiety

I have a rather large confession: my anxiety as of late has sky rocketed. It’s no surprise, really, it always does in the summer months, when the weather heats up and I can no longer hide under layers without sweltering to death. For years I’ve been struggling to become more comfortable in my own body, to embrace my differences and not be afraid to leave the house because it’s hot and I’m in summery clothes that reveal my legs.

I’ve been trying, I really have, to get over being so uncomfortable in my own skin (when that skin is “showing”). Last year, I bought shorts and knee high dresses, and I did wear them. But my braveness, my resolve, weakened every time a stranger’s eyes happened to focus on my legs, and then dissolved completely after some teenage girls in Walmart pointed at my toes and laughed, talking amongst themselves about “how gross” they were.

Those legs. Legs that I should be thankful for, because they work. I can walk, I can run (although not so gracefully or for long). They get me from point A to point B okay enough. Many people don’t have that luxury, and for that I always feel immensely guilty about my…feelings…for those legs. My legs. My misshaped, scared, different legs. I despise not them, but the attention they bring from strangers.

It’s not so much the legs that cause me this anxiety. It’s the prospects of the looks, the laughter. Yes, the laughter. I’ve been laughed at, a lot – not just last summer in Walmart. I always try to ignore it, to keep my head up high and carry on but it still cuts deep and causes such anxiety I can scarcely breath until I’m safely back home, away from the eyes.

It sucks, because I know I shouldn’t be ashamed of my own skin, and I’m not, not really anyway. I’m comfortable around my family and friends, I don’t even think about it. But strangers…strangers cause such anxiety in me that the mere thought of going out in public, facing strangers, with my legs bare is just so terrifying to me that I put it off. I make up excuses, or I wait for a day when I can wear longer clothes. I stay inside because I hate being uncomfortable. I don’t want Nolan to see my discomfort, my anxiety when it comes to this…but I’ve been struggling for years to get over it and I just can’t seem to.

I know, not all strangers mean harm. Not all of them are laughing at me, they’re just curious. But the curiosity is just as awkward as the laughter. Who wants to be reminded of their differences every single time they step out in public?

It’s ironic, really. I’m not the kind of person that ever stares at someone’s differences. I smile at everyone, I’m nice to everyone. I don’t make anyone feel uncomfortable for being “different” because I hate when people make me feel uncomfortable for being different. I honestly don’t care about other peoples differences, because the differences don’t make the person. So why am I so anxious about my own differences?

I accept that I have this disorder, I truly do, but in all my years of having it I have never truly felt comfortable when my layers are gone and I’m left in shorts and a tank top.

I need to buy long summer dresses, because this year my anxiety is at an all time high. I get anxious when I go outside in one of the few dresses I have (that reach my knees). I can’t even count them as clothes because I can’t go anywhere wearing them.

This morning I briefly thought of going to play group with Nolan, then I realized I couldn’t. What if they stared, what if they asked questions? I don’t want to answer questions every bloody time I leave the house, I really don’t. I’m all for educating people on this disorder, but to do it every time someone notices my legs is exhausting. I want to enjoy my time out, with Nolan, without having to feel uncomfortable and explain my life’s story. I want that for Nolan to, for him to go to a beach or a swimming pool without the stares and the questions and, God forbid, the laughter.

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About J.C. Hannigan

25. Mother. Wife. Lover of words. Weaver of stories. My first book, Collide, is available in e-book for Amazon Kindle and Kobo.
This entry was posted in day to day stuff, differences, frustrations, living with chronic pain, MHE, struggles. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Of Anxiety

  1. this broke my heart.

    i actually remember you texting me last year when those girls had made fun of you, and i remember getting SO angry.

    i talk to you more than i speak to most of my friends… and every single time you've sent me a picture, all i've ever thought is “holy shit, what a babe”. because you are. you have a smile that lights up a room, the biggest most gorgeous eyes ever, and a complexion i would KILL for. you always wear cute little outfits, and you seriously have a bod i'd happily trade you for! pregnant, or not.

    it breaks my heart that people purposely go out of their way to inflict pain on someone else. i've lost sleep over silly things i've said in the heat of the moment. i panic if i know someone i love is hurting because of me.

    everyone has their own insecurities. and it sucks that these ones are beyond your control. and i know that you know this, but those mannerless douchebags that stare or make you feel uncomfortable? they have no idea the struggle you've been through. they don't realize it took you an hour to leave the house in flip flops because you weren't feeling confident.

    you may have a few scars- so what? let those scars be a reminder of your journey. let them be a reminder of the fight you have in you, the strength it takes you every day to perform “regular” tasks.

    on a TOTALLY different spectrum? when i get rude comments or snarky remarks about my chest piece (a “scar” i willingly put onto my body, different, i know, but bare with me) those people didn't realize it was a tribute to my survival- to the abusive life i finally escaped. how fucking stupid do they feel when they realize what it means. jerks.

    remember: you have a wonderful husband who thinks you're PERFECT, an amazing little boy (with a second on the way) who thinks you're the bee's knees, a family who cherishes you, and friends who love you to the moon. LET those assholes stare, and let them be JEALOUS.

    you frigging babe.

    i love you.

  2. I understand how you feel. Not because I have a disorder I cannot control, but because of my weight. I spend many summer days sweating because I just can't wear tank tops or shorts without feeling like people are staring at the fat girl.

    And now I feel guilty. Because I could just lose weight. I don't have it that bad. You feel the way you do because of something you have no control over.

    But let me say this. You are beautiful. From head to toe. People who make rude remarks have self esteem issues themselves. They judge because it's the only way they know how to take their focus away from their own insecurities. Today you had the courage to post a photo of something that makes you feel terribly insecure. You talked about it. That's something that those girls from Walmart will NEVER have enough bravery to do.

  3. It's not fair. People are cruel. You are beautiful the way that you are, and I love your toes! It's differences that make people who they are. The mean people who laughed at you have probably been laughed at themselves. I'm available for beat downs, just sayin'…:p

  4. Jessa says:

    Well, at least you are normal because I don't know ANY women who actually like their legs. As for other people, I don't have advice. There will always be those who stare, point or even ask stupid questions. But you are beautiful and that's all you need to know.

  5. Karen S in Oz says:

    Some people can be so cruel Jess 😦
    Your legs are beautiful and your toes are beautiful. I am not just saying it, I mean it from my heart. Nobody has a perfect body. We are all unique in our own ways. The people that laugh are just pathetic people. You find the ones that tend to bully or laugh at people are just trying to make themselves feel better by picking on someone else. They are the ones with the low self esteem as they have to pick on others in order to make themselves feel better.
    Wear what you want to Hun. Gosh my legs look like tiny chicken legs as I tend to put weight on around my butt πŸ™‚ Five of my toes don't bend as I had to have them straightened out. My knees are the most knobbly looking things out there. But I would rather dress in summer clothes than be hot covering up. My self esteem is not high but I don't want people to stop me from wearing something comfortable.
    You are a beautiful person inside and out πŸ™‚

  6. *hugs*

    That's all I've got.

    *hugs* *hugs* *hugs*

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