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The Voice(s)

The Voice(s)

This Anxiety Friday is brought to you by The Voice (in my head that says I shouldn't do this).

Dear Anita,

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

Anyway, I’m ‪#‎theworst‬ at this vulnerability and feelings crap, and just straight up think it’s weakness that I’m feeling.

But the thing is, I feel like everyone is better qualified to do the things I want to do. And I’m not talking about flying to the moon. I’m talking about that I want to breastfeed my baby, and just know I can’t.

Marry me and let’s move to a commune,

Debbie Doubter

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Dear Double Ds,

First of all, I know two things: anxiety and boobs. Specifically breastfeeding boobs. But let’s not make the mistake of thinking that your insecurities have one thing to do with the mechanics of breastfeeding. This message goes out to everyone that can see this, and twice to those that scroll past it: you are enough.

I know you feel like there’s something wrong with you. I’m here to say that the odds are most definitely in your favor…you’re fine. I’m not being flippant, I just know you are. We have a culture of believing that there’s something wrong, like, always. We’re on the hunt for disease and deformity and disability every waking minute, and at least every other sleeping minute of the day. What if we’re just ok? What if being ok means that sometimes we feel [insert unwanted emotion here]?

Here’s the thing: I know the feeling of knowing…just knowing, that something is wrong. I know that dread. I know how cold it feels. I know the shame of worrying what you will tell everyone. I know the feeling of slight nausea that is omnipresent during waking hours and the disorienting swell of fear when it wakes you up at 2am.

And I know the gut sinking feeling of hearing the terrible news that you’re actually fine, and it’s all in your head.

I live every day not trusting my body. That I know as well as I know John Stamos' face {read: ass}.

I've shared this story with many, but, it’s important: the panic attack that got me to urgent care, was nothing compared to the one a few weeks later. It was the Saturday before Easter, and I had a day of foggy head/dizziness/chest buzzing/overwhelming sadness that I was trying valiantly to fight through...or at least understand. I got myself home finally that afternoon, planning to take one of the ten anxiety pills the urgent care gave me, and go to bed at 5pm, like I had been for weeks. I was standing in my bathroom, and The Voice started. We all have The Voice. She's super mean. She digs deep to find the fears you didn't even know you had. You're already off your guard, so whatever she says becomes your truth. She's good at her job, too. You've had her around your whole life, and didn't even know she was full of crap. It's all lies, and we don’t even know it!

For me, that afternoon sitting on the edge of my tub, she said:

"You're just like those other crazies in the family that no one wants to be around. It’s genetic, you know. You only deserve to live in an asylum. You can't even keep your house clean. Everyone else deals with this just fine. You'll live there, drooling and scared, and they won't let you shave your legs or pluck your eyebrows. No one wants to be near you. You will make your mom cry if she sees you like this. You're going insane. They're going to have to supervise visits if they let Zoie see you..."

For me, the thought that my niece would look at me the way I had looked at other “crazies” was unacceptable.

And that's when I screamed, "I AM NOT INSANE!"

I screamed it to the walls in my empty house, and didn't even recognize my own voice. It wasn't entirely certain, but it was powerful, and took charge of us.

It took a long while for me to see that the jerk voice had been around for pretty much ever. The jerk voice was there when I quit basketball because I wasn’t good enough. The jerk voice is there every time a friend doesn’t call or text when I want them to. The jerk voice was there when I got demoted out of a prestigious job. And, DD, that jerk voice is there every single time I sit with a friend, and even louder when I sit with a mom. My jerk voice is trying to out scream your jerk voice. “YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.”

But you know what D-Squared? I do know what I’m talking about. I’m a damn good CLC, and am pretty sure I could make Donald Trump lactate, and want to breastfeed in public.

So. This has nothing to do with breastfeeding as far as I’m concerned. You’re going to do the things you want to do. You’ve prepared, and researched, and are making an intentional choice to do the thing you want to do. You can do it, because I’ve learned over the last year that there is actually nothing that is impossible if you want something. It is hard work, and absolutely worth the tears and setbacks.

The setback, by the by, is just a pause. Just a semicolon. Your sentence continues.

All of the Xs and the Os,

Anita Mann

PS, it’s been a little more than a year since that jerk voice outted herself to me, and there are some days, once and a while, when she catches me off guard. That’s ok…I see her for what she is eventually, and she goes back to sulking in the corner.

That Self-Compassion crap, and pizza.

That Self-Compassion crap, and pizza.

Recovery is a four letter word.

Recovery is a four letter word.