Fear causes me to avoid certain situations. I probably didn’t need therapy to tell me that most of my apprehensions come from fear of failure, being trapped, making a wrong decision, rejection. I often compare myself to others and wonder how I stand up to them. The fancy moms at nursery school drop off who have their hair and nails done, and look like they got more than 6 hours of sleep. I bow to you — I seriously don’t know how you do it. I’m the mom scratching something crusty off her flannel shirt and wonder if it’s a booger or oatmeal.
Through self-awareness, I started to realize fear is attached to a learned response. Most of the time an irrational response will send my brain into overdrive and my hysterics sizzling. My mind says “Holy shit, man! Freak out! Something bad is going to happen. Get out now!” Truth is, I’m just waiting in a really long sluggish line. I have not felt panic in years, yet the feeling is fresh. When fear takes over, it is debilitating – and embarrassing. Conclusion — the potential risk of having a panic episode is right enough reason to avoid anything that could result in one. However, my fear is dissipating.
Previously I wondered what would replace anxiety when I was “cured.” Let me be clear, I do not believe that you can CURE anxiety. I do think you can relieve yourself from its grasp and live a productive life, full of joy and sorrow and anger. You know, all that ordinary life stuff that happens to people. The difference is when these things happen I start a merry-go-round of thoughts that replay the situation over and over again. I become anxious and beat myself up over the “what if” scenarios. Anxiety is low these days, but it will always be a part of me, even if it’s lying dormant. With fear at bay, I am discovering anger and frustration. Now, when I’m in line at the grocery store and no one is moving; the thoughts are full of straight up hate: What the hell is taking so long? How stupid can you be? Just scan the friggin item and put it in the dang bag. This is not the time for a social hour!
This recognition came as a surprise to me. Snuffing out fear was hard, it’s still a work in progress. Though honestly, I was a bit devastated to find out how much anger boils in me when fear lifts. I wonder how these two things are connected? When I see my temper rise, I am quick to suppress it, but it leaks out in shameful ways. I am short with people I care about; self-care starts to suffer, I eat horrible, drink less water, don’t exercise, go to bed late and then don’t fall asleep, and a dull headache can plague me for days.
I know there are things I can do to stay ahead of this. The first day that I start to allow self-care to dwindle I usually just let the beast be. However, by day five I am dragging. My shadow has more life than I do. I fell into the trap recently; I stayed up late and stopped drinking water. My water comment may sound bizarre to some, though I have always had to remind myself to drink water. WATER – so simple, yet such a burden. I’m a desert.
After a few days of caring less about my physical well-being, I stopped myself and forced a decent bedtime; and yes, water consumption along with a better diet. By doing this, I was able to get back on track fairly quickly. When stress takes over, my anxiety is triggered. Now that I have less irrational fears than in the past, it seems anger and laziness seep in.
Self-awareness is the most valuable lesson I have picked up from therapy. Forcing myself to be aware of my own actions and REACTIONS has founded a better understanding of my thought processes. Sometimes I don’t like the answers I find, but it’s still growth. Life would be boring without self-improvement, even when it stings a little.