Finding Help, Taking Responsibility

When my phone rang at 2 pm I was expecting it to be a call from my therapist.  But when I didn’t recognize the number, I uncharacteristically answered it anyway.

It was the contact person for my therapist, she was calling to let me know my therapist was ill and wanted to reschedule.

After speaking to my therapist for the first time last week, I had a feeling of clarity, of lightness that I can’t remember feeling ever before.

She had explained to me that the anxiety that I feel around my family was perfectly normal considering my childhood.  And she introduced me to some ideas and terms I had only read about but didn’t associate with my own experience until we talked about it.

After talking to her, after hearing and accepting the truth, that I had done nothing wrong, nothing to deserve the fear that I felt, the anxiety that was buzzing through my body for days, making me feel thick and sticky, seemed to evaporate.

It was as if there was space between my ribs and around my smoothly functioning organs.  And my brain was quiet.  No more circling around, questioning my decisions, blaming myself.

That lasted two days.

Then the fear and anxiety resurfaced.   I did those things I usually do when I’m anxious, I walked, meditated, danced, worked. But still, it lingered.

I seriously considered getting medication for it for the first time in my life.  I even took notes about what I was feeling eager to share them with my therapist, desperate for my next appointment like an addict craving her drug.

Then, at the last minute, my appointment was canceled.

First I was disappointed, deflated,  then I was angry.  I’m sure the receptionist heard it in my voice when she read me the multiple-choice survey asking me if I had been anxious in the past week: a) every day, b)most of the week, c)some of the week or d) not at all.  

Every Day, I said between clenched teeth, even though technically it wasn’t true, at the moment it felt like it was. ( I’ve never been good with multiple-choice, there’s never enough nuance for me.)

I made an appointment for later in the week and when I got off the phone the strangest thing happened.

I immediately realized that I was looking to my therapist to reassure me that the decisions I was making regarding my family situation were good ones.  I wanted her to tell me that I was right. I was trying to hand off responsibility for my decisions.  I wanted that feeling of lightness and clarity again.

But I was looking for it in the wrong place.

I was looking outside of myself.  Those things had to come from inside of me, not from anyone else.

I think it was my giving my power away that caused most of my anxiety.   I originally gave it to my family now I was giving it to my therapist.

The only way I was going to change is if I began to trust and believe myself.

I will take as much help as I need to get to a better place.  But there’s a difference between seeking help and simply giving away my power and personal responsibility to someone else.

And with that understanding, the anxiety, verging on panic I had been feeling for days vanished.  My mind cleared of its obsessive circling and a feeling of resolve took up space just below my navel with the surety of a smooth round rock.

That was yesterday.

Since then my mind has tried to pull me into it’s swirling eddies of confusion and anxiety, questioning my motives by bringing up old belief systems that may have once kept me safe but are now harmful to my individuation and self-realization.

They know what to say, how to draw me in, “Yeah, but, isn’t it true, they begin…or a picture of someone in my family pops into my head trying to lure me in.    I know if I so much as even think about them for a moment I’ll get sucked in.  So I don’t. For now, it’s as simple and as difficult as that.

But I do have something I didn’t before.

I’ve experienced a quiet mind and a calm body. I know what I can feel like instead of what I have felt like for most of my life. I know it’s possible and I’m going to do what I have to so I can live in that space as often as I can.

18 thoughts on “Finding Help, Taking Responsibility

  1. Thank you, Maria for sharing your journey with anxiety. Just giving it reality, can often bring the relief you need to move forward and away for awhile. The times when it hovers so close to one’s consciousness are so unnerving at first, and if I let it just be by acknowledgement, the answers canl come. I understand, though, and find the times we are living in, have brought another unidentified level of anxiety. Through many of these days, I am using the awareness of my breath, to rein it in, and take away its power. I am exhausted so often, by the frequent need to adapt, in order to function. Peace……

  2. Hooray! Congratulations! I’m wanting to do the same thing, and today I mean to ask my facilitator how to do what you’re coming to. You’re ahead of me. I’m so happy for you. You’re doing it on your own, listening to the withinness you have. I’m still at the ask-how-to phase. I am so glad for you!

    1. And I’m glad for you too Nancy, being in the process. I like the work “withinness” it’s very expressive of just that.

  3. The more you find yourself in that beautiful calm space, the larger it will grow. In my own experience, the journey to calm, peace, and joy has been long and interesting. Once I got a taste of it I have fought fiercely to continue down the path and to keep it. My path is well traveled, I’ve gone backwards many times, but each day brings a new opportunity toward calm, peace, and joy. Blessings to you as you find your own way down your path!

    1. I can picture that path Josie, the loops back and then turning into the calm again. I do like the idea of staying there longer and longer.

  4. Greetings, Maria. I venture to say that those of us raised in dysfunction all experience quite similar anxiety expressions. What is even more interesting is that there is a commonality to where we are in life passages. When younger, most of us pay far less attention to our inner capacities and far more likely to rely on distractions and external coping mechanisms.
    I can personally say that when I approached peri and subsequent post menopause, the whirling ‘monkey mind’ was non-stop. Those darn hormonal fluctuations add a level of imbalance that men just never experience (nor can they comprehend.) That said, I believe it also makes us stronger in our resolve when we turn inward and ‘face the music’, so to speak.
    You’re definitely on the right path. Wishing you peace of heart.
    A sante, cheryl b.

  5. Wise and discerning, Maria!

    I hope you won’t mind if I recommend a book which I am almost finished reading by Glennon Doyle, called Untamed. It’s pretty new on shelves. Packed with WOWs! – at least in my opinion.

    All the best to you,

  6. Maria, I call that a “break through”. Good for you! I am impressed with your self exploration and empowerment. Keep up the good work. Each time I read of your breakthru’s, I feel a surge of something inside that says that I too can experience that feeling if I’m willing to be honest with myself and put it out into the world. So you explore and put it out into the universe and people like me say “aha”, I can do that too. Thank you for sharing your growth. Gratefully, Bev

    1. Bev, that so much what I hope for when I write about something like this. But it has become also true for me that need to write about certain things like this. It’s helpful for me to have others to share it with. I’ve never been able to write just for myself. So thanks for being there and for your understanding.

  7. Maria, it was a natural thing for me to look to my therapist to solve my problems. I learned that therapy for me, was her showing me tools and how to use them, tools to navigate the uncomfortable places, my fears and my anxieties. She helped me see that my feelings aren’t wrong, I am not crazy, and that a dysfunctional family of origin life can follow us long into adulthood. And then, as you said, once we take responsibility for our own recovery, we feel more able to cope. I will be forever grateful to her because of what she enabled me to do. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

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