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.