It’s that time of year again!

Yes, that’s right. It’s birthday time.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with a lot of problems, most of them trapped inside of my own mind. For as long as I can remember, I was always extremely introverted and I had a habit of living inside my head. I made up stories for everything and maybe sometimes I let those stories bleed into real life, becoming assumptions.

I’m afraid of a lot of things in life. I want to do a lot of things or express myself better but I’m not good at it. I’ve always been in this weird place where I boldly take charge when I’m with people I feel safe and comfortable with but when I don’t know people, I withdraw into my shell and I am content to simply watch and observe everybody else.

Now that I’m 32, I feel like some of the rough edges are sanding down a bit but there’s a lot of jagged edges that still need to be worked on. I have issues and I know that it can make me so difficult to work with or live with sometimes. I’m particular about how I like to do things and I want things in a certain state of order. I don’t mind a bit of a mess but full on chaos throws me off and drives me crazy. I like having a routine and I really don’t like when that routine is messed up in any way. It doesn’t matter if it’s broken for a good reason, either. I still approach that with apprehension.

I run away a lot. I run away from a lot of things, like my own problems and having to face them. I don’t always share things with people when I know that I should. I hold onto things until they hurt and fester into a poisonous infection. I don’t do it on purpose but I often feel like my feelings aren’t worth much. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, there is a lot more out there than my issues.

Which brings me to one of the things that has always bothered me about how other people see me. I am well aware that I can be a selfish person at times, though I have been working on it. But the way some people word it, it’s as if I don’t think about other people at all. Sometimes I feel like I think about other people TOO much. I’m constantly worried about things I don’t even want to worry about. I admire people who can put others before themselves so much and I want to be like those people. I do my best but I’m also sorta trying to save myself too. Still, the plight of others worries me, like when people get surgeries or they are hospitalized. I have terrible fears of hospitals. I’m always afraid the people who go there won’t come back because some of my earliest memories regarding hospitals are of my mother mourning her father, who passed away in a hospital.

For a long time, that kept me away from seeing even doctors at clinics.

I’m wondering what’s changed since last year. I feel like there are things I’ve done that I wouldn’t have a year ago, five years ago. I still feel like there’s a lot left to go. I am more anxious than I have been in a long time, though. It’s a new and different kind of anxiety and I constantly wonder if I’m capable of handling this. I know I’m doing the right thing by asking for help, although in the past, I wouldn’t have.

I hope this time next year, I am a freer and happier woman. I hope that many of insecurities will diminish in some way, even if just a little. I want to find the world a joyous place to live. I want to feel the way I felt when I rode the ferry in San Francisco again. I want to be able to walk along a beach with grey skies overhead with people that I care most about. I want to pet all the guinea pigs and play ball with all the dogs. I want to make messy books full of memories of my cats and all the guinea pigs who came before Minion. I want to go to pretty gardens and wander through missions. I want to go on more trips with my husband and with my sister and my mom and my nephews. I want to laugh until my stomach hurts and I can hardly breathe, at stupid videos with my brother. I don’t feel like the things that make me happy are that huge.

I don’t want to keep worrying if I’m eating enough or if I’m going to choke if I deign to swallow the food I love. I want to go back to loving food again. I miss food. I’m envious every time I see people guzzling a glass of ice cold water. Here’s to hoping the help I’ve sought will be the one to help me get that back.

Rachel Aseltine

R.A. Aseltine is an author and roleplayer living in California with her husband, guinea pig, and five cats.

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