“We fear losing other people’s approval. We’re so scared of that, that’s so terrifying to us! But what actually hurts a lot more is when we completely reject ourselves.” This is a quote from my recent appearance on Claire Barton’s podcast, in an episode titled True Recovering Perfectionist.
Recently I was at a medical appointment and the nurse asked me about my religious affiliation.
The question took me aback, in part because I wasn’t expecting it and in part because I didn’t know how to answer it.
How could I be honest and also fit my answer into a box on the intake form? The words stuck in my throat.
Dear friend, it’s hard to admit that anxiety is a struggle for you, isn’t it? Your experience of life has been tense and fraught for so long that it seems normal. You want to feel less anxious, but it seems like an impossible dream.
I get it, I really do.
I started twirling my hair compulsively when I was in kindergarten. At school there were so many things to learn, so many people to please. When all of that felt hard to handle, I’d wrap strands of my brown hair around my fingers.
I’d twirl my hair up tight and then let it go, over and over. In fact, I self-soothed this way so much that I actually learned to write left-handed. (Since I was born right-handed, I twirled with my right hand and picked up pencils with my left.)