Snakes...snakes everywhere. They are waiting behind every rock, every bush, every nook and cranny. Snakes are surrounding us. At least that's what my anxiety has been telling me and that's how my anxiety robbed me of summer.
First, let me say that I'm not a very outdoorsy girl anyway. I much rather enjoy that lovely pleasantries provided by air conditioning and a sofa over the sweltering heat of a ninety degree day. Summer is not my favorite season in the least. (It's actually spring... you thought I was going to say fall, didn't you?)
However, there is one thing I absolutely love about summer: the summer vegetable garden. I've been growing a garden for almost every summer since 2006. I absolutely love getting my hands in the dirt, planting seeds that you care for and nurture until it eventually rewards you with it's delicious harvest. It's one of my favorite things.
When we moved to this house I was excited that our landlord seemed to have no problems with my growing a garden. The first year was a bit of a disappointment when I found out that the area I wanted to grow in was completely shaded. But year before last I figured out where my best growing area was and away I went.
Year before last also welcomed me with a few visitors that I had never encountered before...snakes. When I lived in the country before I had a huge black snake that slithered through my garden occasionally. But he and I had an agreement, you mind your business and I'll mind mine and it worked out perfectly. I only saw him a couple of times at a good healthy distance and I was fine with that.
Being now on the edge of the great big woods, I think the chances for snakes has greatly increased. First there were stories from the neighbor about a snake biting his dog (no worries, dog is fine). Then year before last we encountered one in the area near my garage (this guy was brown. Don't know what type.) and then we had three meetings on the porch. The first two were huge black snakes, just hanging out on my porch. The last was a brown snake that was UNDER MY FRIGGIN CHAIR! AS I WAS SITTING IN IT. Okay, I'll stop yelling.
Then in the spring last year there was a story on the news of a local lady who had been bitten on the hand by a snake while she was tending to her flower garden. That was it. In my mind I'm seeing snakes everywhere. Snakes weren't at the top of my list of fears. I have even touched snakes at nature exhibits before. And as I said with my country snake, I can have a live and let live attitude with them. But this was too much. They are lurking under every hidden crevice just waiting to attack. That's all I could think, that's all my mind could see.
Because of this I have been afraid to go outside, I've been afraid when walking to my car, I've been afraid when checking on my garden. It was so severe that my garden last year eventually became overrun with weeds and lack of care and wilted away. My toddler didn't get to spend hardly any time outside last year. I was just too terrified that he would be playing and one of those lurking bad guys would bite him. For a toddler not to have any outdoors time, that's pretty huge because at this age they are filled with wonder and the need to connect with nature in playful discovery.
My anxiety and I robbed him of that last summer. My anxiety and I robbed myself of one of my favorite hobbies. It's frustrating. It's overwhelming but I have been able to realize what it is doing to me. I even realized that I didn't see a single snake last year. I'm sure they are there, but not like the scene in Indiana Jones like my mind is trying to tell me.
I have to work hard but I think it's doable. I think that I can work against this anxiety now that I realize the irrational thoughts that I'm having. I can push myself past this and regain control. I can remain cautious but not let it keep me inside. I've already planted my garden this year and been clearing out some flower garden areas. I also have been laying the sand bags of my anxieties (not just the snakes but also my social anxieties) at God's feet and asking him to take them from me. I've had answers to my prayers and calming of my anxieties. No invisible snakes of anxiety will keep me down.