Anxiety is when you can’t order in the restaurant because you just know the waitress is going to ask a follow-up question. It’s the reason your wife orders for you because at the end of the day, you’re certain she’s going to remember that you like white bread. Because when the waitress poses the question, “What kind of bread do you want, sweetie,” anxiety is your utter destruction, followed by the realization it’s not going to be as simple as ordering a side of toast. Instead, anxiety interferes with your ability to remember that yes, you like white bread. And anxiety is why your wife orders, since no matter what the circumstances, she is going to be able to rattle off your bread preferences. It’s one of the thousand reasons you love her.
Anxiety won’t keep you from hating yourself as she orders for you, though. Anxiety is the reason you’ll hate yourself in that moment, sitting there silently instead of risking exposure to the follow-up questions. Anxiety is the reason you whispered your breakfast order to your wife before the waitress even had time to deliver your drinks. It is the awkward elephant in the room as you sit there, a grown adult incapable of ordering your own assortment of breakfast foods. It is the reason you never make eye contact with the waitress as she takes your orders. Instead, you inspect the table like you work for the health department, and you pray she won’t try to engage with you—that she’ll assume your deaf or mute or otherwise incapacitated in some way.
And in a way, anxiety is the reason you are incapacitated. The anxiety in your chest is rising, whipping your heart into a staggering gallop that makes it impossible to obtain the genuine comfort that other people actually do contain within their voices and their words. Anxiety is like being mute, in a way, because you can’t convince yourself that articulation won’t rain hellfire down on your fragile life, and honestly, even if your powers of articulation were strong, your voice would create steam in your throat as the words turned to gas in your mouth. Anxiety means your person would simple dissolve away, a Listerine strip on the tongue of an odorous tomb—if you actually talked to the waitress.
Anxiety is being convinced you leave nothing good behind.
There is one take-away from the sketch, I hope. If the sketch has resonated with you in any way, it means you’re not alone. If nothing else, you’ve got me, a 28-year old woman who hasn’t ordered her own meal in years. I suspect, though, you are in the company of far greater numbers than just me and you, our humble two. And maybe none of this makes it better in the way you need. But you’re not alone. I’m right there with you, too.