When I was a kid and first began experiencing severe anxiety, my dad would tell me the same words over and over again: “Do it afraid.”
Every time he said this, I would get angrier and angrier. Because I thought I just couldn’t do whatever ‘it’ was at all, especially not while I was afraid! I didn’t really understand what it meant either. Even though I heard the words “do it afraid,” I thought it meant getting over my fear before actually doing it.
But with a severe phobia, that never happened. I have never 100% gotten over my emetophobia and doing it afraid has become a lifestyle – if I didn’t do things afraid, I would never do anything.
I’ve actually accomplished a lot while being afraid. Here are just a few big things…
- Graduating high school
- Going on any date ever (before my husband and I became serious)
- Applying to university (…yes…applying)
- Getting engaged
- Not only graduating university, but graduating well (With Distinction!)
- Having any job ever – including the one I have now where I work from home
- Publishing my book
- Getting married
- Moving to a new city last year
- Moving back in with my parents last week (I’ll write about that one soon)
And here are just a few of the small things that I’ve done afraid…
- Going out shopping alone
- Going out shopping with other people
- Going out in general
- Going on vacations
- Eating out at restaurants
- Walking my dog alone
- Just existing in my own house alone
- Going to church, going out with friends, going to parties, literally anything social
You get the point. In order to live, I have had to get used to doing it in fear, because my fear is not going anywhere anytime soon. I have to learn to live with it.
And yesterday, for the first time ever, I actually feel like I beat it. Not forever, not permanently, but just one victory. A big victory.
My husband and I moved in with my parents temporarily while we look for a place near his new job. Moving and change is stressful for me, and because of that, my stomach has been pretty wonky and therefore my emetophobia has been in full force. We went out to a friend’s place for dinner, and my panic attack began before I even ate a bite.
I managed to last until after dessert, but then I just needed to go home. On the ride home, I was feeling frustrated and defeated. As I watched my husband and our friends eat their dinner and stuff their faces with dessert without a care in the world, I was so angry that my phobia stopped me from doing one of the most average things in the world.
Through my anger and fear and frustration, I decided to face it. I truly did it in fear. The “it” was just existing this time. It was just surviving the drive home. I was so angry at my fear that I made a pledge that it wasn’t going to win tonight. I was too exhausted from the move to have a full-fledged panic attack. The fear was there, but I couldn’t let it beat me.
So I embraced the fear but promised myself that tonight, I would win. And I did. I got home, watched Netflix for an hour, and then went to sleep. All through the fear – but this time it didn’t win. I didn’t have a three hour long panic attack. I didn’t dry heave or shake or hyperventilate or cry. I just watched Netflix.
I think I finally understand what it means to do it afraid now. Thanks Dad.