For those of you following along from home, here’s an update on my state of mind and emotions. Early last week, I was having a prolonged panic/anxiety attack. Hence the password protected posts. I was in a very bad place, I’m not there anymore, well, not there now. So what changed?
First, Roxy suggested I call my therapist and see if I could get in before my next scheduled appointment. Good thing she said something (my hero!) because it hadn’t occurred to me. So I called my therapist and we set up an appointment for Wednesday.
In the meantime, I’d also sent up a flare to my wife, alerting her to my anxious panicky condition and asking that she make time for me Wednesday evening to talk. What that meant was that I was asking her to forgo her usual night out with Nick to talk to me. I was really concerned that we wouldn’t have a chance to talk before she left to go camping for the weekend and I envisioned myself being a complete emotional wreck the whole time she was gone.
So Wednesday was therapy midday, conversation with her that night. Therapy was a lifesaver, allowing me to vent and emote in a safe space and get my thoughts together for the conversation with my wife. I felt a lot of relief just saying out loud that the things that had been crowding my head so painfully for weeks. The conversation with Mrs. Kyle also went well, we both opened up to not only listen to each other but communicate some things that were hard for the other to hear. It wasn’t always easy, we both said things that were hard/painful for the other to hear but we stayed very present and very open to each other. I came away from the conversation a lot less anxious, and also aware that we still have areas of our relationship to work through.
One request/suggestion she made caused a mild anxiety spike: she asked me to talk to Nick about my issues, fears and anxieties, to basically have a similar conversation with him that I’d had with her. During our conversation, I’d said that I felt the friendship was already altered and she suggested I might be projecting my jealousy/fear/anxiety on the friendship and that Nick’s perception might be different. She was optimistic that if I’d talk to him, I’d find that things hadn’t changed quite as much as I thought, that I’d find I hadn’t lost the friendship after all.
So a couple of nights ago, we met at one of our favorite watering holes, we did some catching up and then I launched into the hard part of the conversations: telling him about where I’d been emotionally lately and opening up about a lot of things I hadn’t wanted to have to say directly. Ugh. Not easy. On the other hand, days long panic attacks, also not easy. I was taking the leap in hopes that talking about it with him would help.
And it did. I felt really anxious about all of it, and told him so. Told him about my anger and frustration — self directed and directed outward — and about how I’d hoped to handle it on my own so I wouldn’t have to talk to either of them about it. Admitted failure, pressed on, admitted to what I’d been feeling, all of it. He sat and listened, he heard me, he thanked me for opening up, acknowledged that it was hard for me. He also shared some of what he’d been going through, how he’d seen the distance I put between us and had hoped it was a matter of me needing space.
By the time we parted that evening, I felt a sense of relief and lightness I hadn’t felt in ages. That’s not to say everything is fixed and golden, but I can move forward from here. We three can move forward from here. And I must, must, must remember how open and loving they both are with regard to me and the difficulties I’m having. I have an invitation to open up conversations that aren’t easy. They aren’t out to ‘get me’ or hurt me.
I also have a lot of personal work to do and I’m getting a much better grasp on what I want to work on in therapy. I have been living from within the protective embrace of a complex mechanism of habits and patterns designed to protect me, to help me survive. These mechanisms and the rules that I’ve been living started being constructed in childhood, when my main survival concern was not triggering my bi-polar parent into a rage. The process of layering on survival rules and behaviors continued into my young adulthood, where I was in a 10 year relationship with someone who was emotionally abusive and very controlling. The mechanism got bigger and more rigid, I have OCD moments where I have to do certain behavioral things, or my mind is on a treadmill of repeated thoughts that were originally meant to keep me from harm, and then were applied to keep my loved ones from harm. And this all continued into the 20 year relationship I’m now in, and has influenced my behavior and thought processes and emotional health through all the relationships I’ve had, and taught me I also need to take care of my physical health exercising and taking supplements as the physio omega that really help with this. And frankly, I’m tired of it. I feel like the mechanism is running me, rather than providing resources and potentially useful tools.
This was a big topic in my therapy session this week. I was talking to my therapist about this feeling that I wasn’t running the show completely, or that my core self wasn’t running it. We came up with the image of the mechanisms taking the wheel and doing their best to steer clear of danger. Problem with that is, everything was a threat, so I was emotionally driving all over the place, crashing into things and becoming a danger to myself and others. Thinking about anxiety triggered my anxiety. Clearly, my threat assessment routine needs to be tuned up, it’s seeing the boogie man at every turn. DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!!! Flail, Flail.
Anyway, that’s the current state of my state of mind. Thanks for sticking around. I’m currently feeling pretty calm and centered and that’s the best feeling I’ve had in a while. I appreciate the encouragement some of you have left in comments and personal messages. Y’all are awesome.
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