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C11P02 – Timu Codes

C11P02 – Timu Codes published on 4 Comments on C11P02 – Timu Codes

Related Links: Tama is referring to this conversation back in chapter nine.

I walked by myself to the grocery store twice this week.

That may not seem like a big deal, but it’s something I’ve really struggled to do ever since a car followed me a year or two ago on a walk to that same store. I don’t think I’ve walked anywhere by myself since. Even places a block or two away, I’ve driven to.

I don’t like being scared. I especially don’t like feeling controlled by fear. As a person with anxiety, these two conditions unfortunately make up a massive amount of my life.

But last night and this morning I walked by myself to the grocery store.

It helped that I took a big stick. Cory’s old jo from our Akido classes in college, in fact. I dug it out of the closet, along with my old kubotan, the last time I got frustrated at being afraid of walks.

And you know what? It helped a lot. The clack of the jo on the ground gave me something rhythmic to focus on. The feel of it in my hand was solid. It made me feel more confident when people walked by, and I was able to greet them with a lot more warmth and clarity than I’d be able to do normally. Even when I went walking to the store at night, I had fewer moments of panic. Still times when I’d be nervous, or frightened, but not that sickening I-can’t-breathe-my-heart-is-going-too-fast kind of scared.

Facing down a fear is a good feeling. It doesn’t mean I’m not scared, but I’m proud that I could do what scares me anyway.

Plus, I need to get more sun and exercise. I’m an artist. We pretty much always need more of those two things.

It made me think about a question I asked Cory a month or two ago.

“Am I more anxious lately?? Am I actually getting worse? I feel like I’m freaking out about things all the time!”

He thought about it for a moment, and replied, “No, I don’t think you’re more anxious. I think you’re just doing more things that you’d never have tried a year or two ago. You’re not any more anxious than you used to be. You’re just not letting the anxiety stop you from doing as many things.”

I think he’s right about that. And part of it is letting myself get the help and the tools I need to do those things that scare me. Sometimes I can’t tackle an intimidating problem all at once, all by myself, with no resources. In fact, most intimidating problems can’t be done from a zero state. We have to break them down, work up to them, test the waters, get the tools, find the support.

My brain used to think of those things as signs of weakness. If I needed help, it was because I wasn’t good enough to do it unaided. If I needed a tool, it was because I wasn’t skilled or strong enough to simply do without. If I had to do a smaller task or an experiment before taking on the far larger challenge, it was because I wasn’t capable enough to do it right the first time.

None of those thoughts help me do things. The only thing those thoughts accomplish is ensuring I DON’T do things.

Sometimes, I gotta work up to what scares me, take baby steps, get equipped, and do whatever I need to in order to make myself as comfortable as possible. I have to accept my anxious self and meet my concerns halfway. Challenge myself to do things, but support myself when doing them.

Sometimes, I have to get myself a big stick.

What kinds of “big sticks” do you use to help you accomplish the things you’re intimidated by? Or what might work as a “big stick” to help you do something you’ve always been afraid to try?

4 Comments

Children visit this site. Moderate your language accordingly.

Hooo boy, this will be a fun conversation.

Also, Robin, literally everyone I know with anxiety has this same conversation with themselves. I’m really glad you’re talking and writing about these things, because that’s the only way to lay them out bare and expose the flaws. I tell my boyfriend (and myself) the same thing all the time. He’s always like, “Well, other people can just call a possible job/talk to strangers/etc,” and I try to tell him two things. First of all, we can only guess at what’s going on in other people’s heads. People who look confident or unafraid might have just trained themselves to be that way. I’ve done this, to the point where people think I’m not shy even though talking to anyone terrifies me. Second, everyone has different talents and natural skills. Not everyone can make small talk, and not everyone can paint a portrait. No skill is necessarily better than the other, it’s just that our society elevates/requires different skills at different points in our life.

(Also unfortunately you are right to be cautious as a person perceived as female walking alone anywhere. Or existing. I wish things weren’t this way.)

I think there’s especially a lot of value in presenting these things that “other people” can do as skills. It’s all skills. Some kinds of skills different folks have a natural talent for, and some kinds of skills are always going to be a struggle to learn, but even if we never become amazing at a particular skill, we can invest in improvement in that area. Or in recognizing a weak area and finding other ways to supplement that need from a strength area. Treating this stuff as a skill set allows me to think of it not as a deficiency, or something I’m hopelessly and forever broken about, but as a learning area. If I decide it’s something I even want to learn!

My mother, being a woman in her 60s whom is anything but a secret martial arts master, has wanted to walk to lose weight, but she has also been nervous to walk around even the neighborhood. It’s not just other humans she’s worried about, what if a neighbor has a big dog? She got herself a handheld … It’s not quite a stun gun, as it fits in your fist, but it works like one with a ‘ring’ that has a metal bit which produces a nasty shock when you hit the button. It also makes a loud crackle that can act as a warning.
…….
She also accidentally tazed herself with it when she, like an idiot, mistook the pointy end for the shocking end and accidentally hit the button. At least she knows it works!

Not being able to face things without help or charge into a situation head-on is anything but a sign of weakness. And that’s something I think culture has sadly impressed upon us. “If you need help you’re weak. If you back down, you’re not a man. Brave people don’t know the meaning of fear.” But that’s not true. True courage is about not letting fear hold you back.

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