Today I had one of those “ah-ha” moments in therapy. I think the little pieces of the puzzle were starting to come together for some time, but today it all clicked. Immediately I felt accomplished: I had put something together, how amazing [pat myself on the back]. However, the reality of my discovery sunk in and took me aback. New questions flooded my head, and my over-thinking nature began its devious role.
My current anxiety state keeps me out of most public places when I am not accompanied by someone I know. For example, going to the grocery store alone would result in the wave of anxiety and possibly a panic attack. If I am accompanied by a friend, then the anxiety is significantly decreased, if even a thought at all. This is my hang up; I have owned it for the past 6 years. Prior to this, my anxiety had taken on a different kind of beast where some outside pressures or indecision would leave me in a panic state. The anxiety has morphed over the years. I have been making progress on public places, pretty great progress actually. I take pride and pleasure in this progress and share it with my very supportive therapist.
Today was a hard day though. During therapy, we discussed how I always feel like I’m just on the outside of my extended family (my mom, dad, and two sisters). They all seem to get along so well and raise each other up, where I feel I am judged and kept at arms distance away at times. Often I feel like I am observing them from this distance, instead of joining in on the family banter. I also find myself in situations where canceled plans from friends or family leave me reeling. My brain tells me they don’t want to hang out with me because I’m boring, stupid, or annoying. I then beat myself up about this for weeks or even months. The time they choose not to be around me still eats at me, so when I see them next, I approach with caution. I have come to label myself as an insecure person. Today, however, I found out that this insecurity comes from my anxiety.
It appears that anxiety affects me in more ways than I previously thought. My therapist calls some of my feelings towards people and social situations, “irrational thoughts.” The gears began to turn in my head when she said that. An irrational thought? So, you are saying – when someone cancels plans, and I think it’s because they hate me – that is an irrational thought? Or maybe when my mom invites me to hang out with her and my sister, my thought goes to – they have already had this planned and are inviting me out of pity – that is an irrational thought? I felt this ripple effect in my mind with this discovery; the reaches of anxiety are so much further than I had thought. How deep does it go? Maybe it’s like the universe with no end.
I’m sorry, this is new to me today. My insecurities are such a part of who I am. To suddenly think that these thoughts that weigh so heavily on my soul are irrational is thrilling because it gives it a name and it makes sense to me. But on the other hand it makes me realize that ##$!@#$!@bleep bleep%!@#*@#*&! I have a much longer road to recovery than I thought. As a child, I remember desperately trying to make friends, but always feeling like other children (and even adults) didn’t like me or were talking about me behind my back. Fear that friendships were always only on the outer surface plagued me for years and years. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old that I started to make deeper friendships and connections. Today when I looked back at my younger years, I thought it was age-appropriate to feel that way. Now I realize how early anxiety started to wreak havoc on my life. I was born with this. I was born this way.
I am coming to terms with how long anxiety has been a part of me, as well as how far it reaches these different aspects of my life. I hope this doesn’t mean the road to recovery is twice as long as I had thought it might be. Not that I put a timeframe on any of this.
Therapy is hard. Today was a hard therapy day. Last week was a hard therapy week too. I didn’t think therapy would feel this way, even with some warnings from friends. I thought I would go in and talk about how much I hated not being able to go into public places alone, and how badly I want it to get better, then we’d slowly work it out. I didn’t know that I would feel like I took big steps backward. This is the big picture though. I think for once I see it.
Today was a hard therapy day.