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.