Okay, so this is weird. Reading stresses me out.
It’s weird on so many levels.
One: Reading is one of my favorite things to do.
Two: I was an English major.
Three: I read a lot.
Maybe saying “reading” stresses me out isn’t specific enough. So let’s dig deeper.
I get stressed that the books I read aren’t literary enough. I get stressed when I start a book and don’t finish it. I get stressed when I don’t like books I think I should like. I get stressed that I don’t read “enough.” And I get stressed out by the violence and conflict in books.
I also get stressed about getting stressed about books. So meta.
I first noticed this anxiety when I was pregnant with my first child. A friend from my creative writing MFA program recommended three of her favorite books. One was The Corrections, which seemed like A Book All MFA Candidates Must Like.
Meh. I got about twenty pages in preferred not to make further acquaintance.
The other two involved violence against very young children and babies. I got about two pages in and put them down like hot potatoes. (I’ve since heard from a lot of mothers that they Just Can’t Go There.)
I thought putting aside those books was a pregnancy thing. Assumed it would go away with time.
If anything, it’s only gotten worse.
It took me a long time to realize something I loved, something usually joyful, also gives me anxiety.
But on further reflection, lots of us get stressed out by lovely, fun things. Food, sex, or our bodies. Friendships, parties, Christmas or … clowns?
It helps me to remember that anxiety specializes in this kind of party pooping.
It helps—a little…
I was over at SheLoves on Wednesday, chatting about anxiety and confession and the strange lessons both teach us. Won’t you join me there?
Image credit: SheLoves Magazine and Chervelle Camille