I remember when I bought these jeans. I don’t have them anymore. They were in my closet for a very short time but despite that, we had a fair bit of fun together. They were more than just a pair of jeans, though. Not because they were particularly special. But because they were tangible proof of the anxiety I have lived with all my life, that I have worked so hard to manage but that is sometimes beyond my control. And so they had to go.
I still remember my first episode of anxiety. I was four. It was the day of my brother’s christening. My whole family, relatives from both sides of the tree, was at my parents’ house for a party afterwards. It was chaotic. I started picking at the skin on my lips every time someone came near me. I couldn’t have explained why, exactly; truthfully, I still can’t. But I have picked at the skin on my lips ever since, particularly in moments when I am nervous or upset. Picking at your lips releases endorphins, apparently. I don’t know. I’ve just always done it. I have other tics, too; compulsive behaviours that I engage in without thinking when I’m uncomfortable. But my dry, cracking lips are a kind of signature.
There are times when I keep my anxiety well under control. I practise yoga every day. It helps. All exercise helps, actually, which is probably why I do so much of it. I am a high-functioning anxious person. Which means that, to most people, I seem fine. I seem fine to myself, a lot of the time. I keep my apartment clean, I take care of my personal hygiene, I get dressed in the morning and generally take care of business. But that doesn’t change the facts. Anxiety is always there. I remember, in tenth-grade, one of my male classmates told me I was a calm person. He believed he knew me better than I knew myself, as men unfortunately often do. And to him, he mansplained, I seemed calm. I tried to tell him the truth. Just because something isn’t visible doesn’t mean it isn’t there, I said.
He didn’t really hear me, of course.
This isn’t the post I planned to write today. But looking at these embroidered jeans, it was the only one I could write. I read how Alice Catherine described her anxiety as a familiar cloud yesterday and that, too, got me thinking, because my experience with anxiety has been so different. For me, anxiety something that comes from inside, that bubbles up from a deep, dark place that, on good days, I can forget exists. I am the author of my own anguish and indecision, but even so, it always feels like someone, or something, else is pushing the proverbial pen in my hand. Sometimes, anxiety is predictable. Family functions still make me edgy. All of them. I expect it. But often, it is unpredictable. And when it bubbles up, for reasons I can neither comprehend nor articulate, I don’t always cope as well as I would like.
I bought these jeans in a moment of anxiety. A full day of it, actually. We in Paris, preparing for a party that Ian was catering for a girlfriend of mine. I am not great at parties at the best of times. But especially when I know almost none of the guests. And especially when I have to speak French because when I am nervous, even my English skills get iffy. I projected my anxiety onto my clothes, as I so often do. I didn’t know what I should wear. And with Ian cooking all day, I had nothing but time to think about it.
I had a wardrobe full of beautiful things, of course, but nothing seemed right. So in the morning, I took a “quick trip” to a Zara halfway across the city. I tried on almost everything in the store. They had a lot of embroidered jeans, which were having a moment just then. Embroidered jeans are not me. They never have been me. But anxiety makes it difficult to see things clearly. It makes decisions next to impossible, which is why I left Zara empty-handed. Only to go out again in the afternoon to not one, but two more locations, where I tried on more and more embroidered jeans.
I finally settled on this pair of jeans, after hours of wasted time. The fit, I can still admit, was excellent – especially for Zara. But they weren’t my style. And as soon as I got to the party and saw what everyone else was wearing, I knew I’d made entirely the wrong choice. Anxiety is like that; it can make you turn your own fears into self-fulfilling prophecies before you realise what you’ve done. Had I just worn clothes I owned and knew I loved, I would have felt fine. But I was anxious about wearing the right thing and that anxiety made me choose the wrong thing.
What I’m describing probably sounds like a nightmare. It is one. But it’s also my life. And a lot of other people have lives that look similar. We all manage as best we can, because the truth is, no one really knows what they’re doing, whether they suffer from anxiety or not. I made the best of my bad decision and wore these jeans twice more before I parted with them.
This isn’t the post I planned to write today. If I’m honest, it isn’t a post that I ever planned to write. But the more I thought about that, the more I wondered why. I am going to live with anxiety all my life. Some days will be fine and some days, I’ll peel the skin off my lips until they bleed. There’s no reason to pretend otherwise. It doesn’t benefit anyone. But talking about it just might.
#zara #marled #chanel #christianlouboutin #aninebing