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Powells City of Books
A grab ya, tell all, starkly truthful account of living with a ghoul, called anxiety! Don't be scared...this honors the voice of those who can not speak out!
I reveal in the book my stark truth about how I acquired my condition and what strides I have taken to control my anxiety and to manage my life in the best way possible. It is a memoir of my life and the people in it that have been strong characters in feeding my dysfunction. It is a story of sexual abuse, family dysfunction, and panic attacks but it also shows my humanity and my process of therapy.
I wrote this book because I believe having anxiety is an invisible disorder that most people prefer to believe doesn’t exist. I was fired from a new job once I revealed my disorder when asking for help and a change in training so I could accommodate my anxiety and yet remain successful. The resulting lack of empathy or understanding lead me to know that what I and countless others suffer from is an unseen disability that needs clear disclosure and visibility.
In that vein I wrote in the hopes of giving someone else encouragement. I wrote to give voice to the very real existence of my peers that suffer every day with a disorder that so few acknowledge and so few understand. If we could wear our disability on our sleeve for all to see we too would be helped to cross the street.
It is my hope that by reaching out I will be reaching those who share my story and pay forward to those people what I have experienced and what I have come to understand about this disorder and to reveal that there is help and that we are not alone in our vigil.
I was a lonely child with a sister and a mother. This was my nucleolus, my little bit of life. My father was an outsider (divorced from us), a myth, an annoyance to my mother. We lived meagerly, without many of the finer things in life. Of course, I didnít know this, really, until I was in the first grade and the neighborhood we lived in let us know, in no uncertain terms, that we were to be shunned for living in the new ďfour-plexĒ on Anderson Avenue. We were stereotyped because we were renters; that made us a lesser class. The year was 1962.
This is where I began to absorb my fears and to learn to lock them away and pretend. Donít rock the boat, be a good girl, eat what is given you, and go to bed when told. This was my mantra and my sisterís. I was six and she was seven.
Kathie, my sister, and I went to school every day, alone. We walked back every6 day, alone. Kathie had a key, and we let ourselves in the door alone. We snacked alone, watched TV alone and waited. My memory is sketchy about how we passed the time on a regular basis, but when 5:30 came our mother arrived home and then, as our smiles turned upside down, she left again. She was professional student on the side. We had a babysitter at night for the times Mother was at class. This was the case until we moved, just before I entered the fifth grade.
From my earliest memory until the time we moved I was scared of my room and the things that lurked in there.
I was frightened by a bully in the neighborhood. I was scared by blind people in general. I was attacked by a dog and received a serious eye injury that would leave me with an eye that wandered. A story a child related in my first grade reading circle scared. I choked on a piece of chicken. Some boys assaulted me on the playground. At school we watched the events of President John F. Kennedyís assassination resulting in the school closing and I had to go home alone. My mother had me stay home alone, sick with the measles.
All of these events frightened me to a greater degree than most children would be expected to feel. I began to exhibit obsessive-compulsive behaviors: I held my tongue between my teeth for over a year for fear I would swallow it (because apparently that could happen). I was fearful of eating alone in case I choked again. I had to have a night-light because I saw things in my room late at night that should not even exist (elves and walking dolls). I processed all these events to bring myself to two conclusions: The world is not safe and your life is not guaranteed. My little-girl self knew what no child should know at age six: You donít live forever and no one protects you. And in the midst of all this pain and fear, I told no one. I couldnít rock the boat. I suppressed and ignored my pain and fear, and in doing so set in motion a pattern for survival that I would continue for thirty five years, until it was so bad I broke.
The writings (proseís) you will read throughout this book are true expressions of what I went throughout to understand what this little girl did to survive, what the adolescent girl did to cope, what the young mother did to maintain and what the now-wise woman has come to know.
Itís not a book describing a huge life horror or poverty so bad that one starves. It is a book of middle-class demons and average people. I hope that some will see themselves or parts of their lives in what I experienced. I recount the experiences of family members to open your mind up to what I experienced as a mother, daughter, sister and wife so you will see the endless opportunities that my anxiety had to continue thriving within me. I hope, as well, that some will see through the process of this book that all is not lost. Hope and insight are available, and there are reasons for everything.