My friend simply recognized my anxiety when it reared its head. Here’s what happened.
Before this pandemic hit, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join her to watch a show called “The Pump and Dump Show.”
I was thrilled that she asked me to go with her. It seemed like it would be such a fun little break. When the time came to leave for the show, I had all these emotions. I felt like she cared about me. I felt like I was important to her. And I felt that I was a normal person who had friends.
But here’s the thing. All those feelings of happiness very quickly turned into feelings of anxiousness.
I got scared. My anxiety shot through the roof. My stomach started to hurt, my palms were sweaty, my heart was racing, and I started to feel sick. I wanted to come up with excuses such as “my class won’t be over by then” or “my husband won’t be home to help with my daughter.” While there was some truth to that, my husband thought I should go.
But my body’s somatic response was saying, “No, don’t go. There are so many things that can go wrong. It will not be ok.”
I am a full-time stay-at-home mom/student. I am pretty isolated. Aside from taking my child to school and other appointments, I don’t get out much. So you can imagine what it feels like to have a friend invite you somewhere without your kids.
Anxiety is not fun. It really can hold you back from experiencing life.
Some of the times I experience anxiety are when I am meeting people, running errands (even if it’s as simple as going to the grocery store), or leaving my kids. I fear almost everything or at least that’s what it feels like. It takes a lot for me to convince myself that everything will be ok.
That night my friend recognized my anxiety. The very same anxiety that sometimes no one realizes can be an overwhelming experience on a day-to-day basis. She was persistent in convincing me it was going to be fine. That I should go despite my excuses. I was so thankful because it was like she knew what to do.
She was patient with me. She understood what I was feeling and what I was going through. And she validated my feelings.
In my previous encounters, any other person would have said, “Oh ok” when I mentioned my excuses. I would have missed out because of my anxiety. But not this friend. She was the first friend in the longest time to have a genuine understanding. This was a lesson for me. Because how many people suffer from anxiety? How many people know how to calm an anxious person down?
In my experience– not many. This was a GOLD MEDAL friend move. Maybe I don’t have a lot of friends in my life. But when she showed up, she showed up.
She came from a place of love and kindness. If we are all this friend to all women (whether we know them or not), imagine the kind of power we hold to build people up instead of leaving them in a grey space with the possibility of letting them fall in their own fear?
How she approached my situation was important to me. So make your friend feel important. Be persistent in a loving, nonjudgmental way. Let them know in their moment of anxiety that it’s ok. Validate that it will all be ok even if you have to do it multiple times. Be kind, and most of all, be patient.
So to my friend, thank you for being there for me. Thank you for all that you are, and all that you do. You are an amazing friend, an amazing woman, and an amazing mom.
Originally published September 2020.