As the bride or groom, I imagine it’s normal to feel a bit nervous before that walk down the aisle. All eyes are on you, and it is your day. But what about as a guest? It is only me? For some unknown reason, my anxiety can creep in just sitting on the sidelines.
The last wedding I went to, I had a short moment of panic where I felt the need to escape. I was sitting toward the front and in the middle of the chairs so leaving was not an option. A sudden pang of “I need to get out of here.” A few moments of an uncontrollable shaking leg to distract myself. And the all-consuming feeling of anxiety.
It was short-lived thankfully, but why should it have happened at all? Then again during the reception, my anxiety slowly creeped back in. Maybe it was the pressure to catch the bouquet. Maybe it was my boyfriend’s attention-grabbing moves on the dance floor. But once again, I found myself having to take a mental timeout to calm down.
Another Wedding, More Anxiety?
This weekend I went to another wedding in the San Francisco area, and I was all too aware that my anxiety might make another unwanted appearance. For fear of an attack, I dragged my boyfriend to the back on the chairs for the ceremony and made sure I was on the outermost one away from the aisle. An easy escape route as I saw it. All clear during the ceremony.
It was a wedding for his friend, so I was the outsider in the group. I feared my need to impress these strangers may make my anxiety leap alive. I zoomed through dinner quite smoothly, but found myself wishing the meal would last longer so there would be less dancing and fewer chances for my anxiety to make an appearance. The hours ticked down and my feet ached from dancing, but still no attack. Halfway across the country at a wedding where I knew few people, I had managed to make it unscathed by my anxiety. One small victory, I pondered as I showered after the reception.
Though I may have beat my anxiety this time, the real test will be the next wedding. The one where I am a bridesmaid and having all eyes on me is unavoidable as I travel down the aisle. The anticipation makes me fearful but perhaps, anticipation is preparation. At the first wedding, I never imagined I would feel anxiety, but at the second wedding, the fear lingered for weeks in anticipation of the event. Maybe worrying now will help me from worrying later. I certainly haven’t pinned down when and why my anxiety appears. So for now it’s becomes an unwanted surprise, a gift I’d like to just give back.