Getting Back In The Game
When I was 9 I started playing soccer. I loved it, even though I was terrible at it. One day when I was 10 years old, I got hit in the stomach with the soccer ball and it knocked the wind out of me. I crumpled on the ground in tears, and they led me off the field.
I sat there for a few minutes until I started to feel better. Then my coach came over to me, and she said words I’ve never forgotten: “I’m going to send you back out there pretty soon, because I don’t want you to be afraid of the ball.” I was scared that it would happen again, and I didn’t want to get hurt again. I felt like my brain was telling me to protect my body, to stay on the sidelines where it’s safe. I went out there anyway, and ended up playing soccer for 12 more seasons until I eventually turned 18 and was too old to play in that league anymore.
I don’t know how I let this happen, but I’ve been standing on the sidelines of my own life for the past few months. One bad experience? If I don’t go back to that situation, that bad thing can’t happen again. You can’t get hurt if you don’t play. And continuing to not play makes you more likely to never want to play again. It’s easier to be a quitter than to try and fail.
Well, tonight I’m going to stop standing on the sidelines. It’s been a couple of months, but it’s time for me to really face my fears and get back in the game. Tonight is a parade and awards night at work, and I’ll be standing out there in front of everyone, doing my job. I’ve been dwelling on the night I finally have to go back out on parade for a long time, and I’m tired of my fear of having a panic attack controlling my life. If I panic and pass out, at least I can say I tried. I know in the long run, no one cares about that one parade where I had to take a knee and be led away.
I’ve realized that anxiety lives in the way I think. That realization has led to an interesting type of fear. Now one of the things I worry about is not being able to control my own mind, which could cause me to panic. Well, I can’t live my life being afraid of myself. I can’t stop doing things because I worry about how I’ll feel when I get there. When I don’t think about it, my anxiety doesn’t exist. It only exists when I think about things like “it’s a good thing I’m not anxious right now” and draw attention to it. I’ve had enough.
Tonight I’m going in to that soccer game, and I’m leaving my fear at the sidelines.