Plenty of terrible, shitty things have happened in my life. Those things, are pretty much second to the good and incredible things. But somehow they seem to hold more significance than the positive. R told me this, last night. I am not so sure I see most things in a negative light. Undoubtedly though, something happens and I find myself crawling out of that tiny, tight, dark space, gasping for air and stretching myself in search for some light. I repeatedly question my capacity to endure. Even though I’ve survived a million different things, I look at myself and feel so defenseless. Sending myself those messages, “You can’t handle anything. The smallest bit of wounded feelings could send you teetering over the edge at any moment. So just go ahead and sit with that. Wait for the other shoe to drop with your muscles impeded and tight and your brain spinning a million miles per hour and that’s what you get for being weak and defenseless.” The one problem for me, though, is that I don’t even understand why I do this to myself. I don’t even know what “weakness” I’m referring to. R also has told me that I am too sensitive. Is it because I get dark when I feel some uncomfortable feeling or something? Is it because, in times of sorrow or grief or mourning, I find it incredibly difficult to scrape myself off of the ground and face the day? Is it because there are times when I feel this way, even when my life looks well assembled and pleasing from the outside? Is it times when I am so overwhelmed that I am paralyzed to even move or make a decision? Is it because I get teary at things that touch my heart so much that the tears just begin to fall?
I know a lot of my anxiety comes from expectations. Expectations for myself, for the world around me, for the people in my life, for my career path, for my romantic life, etc etc etc. I could go on for days listing the expectations I’ve devised. I am basically setting myself up for failure from the start. I realized this in a few of my friendships. I feel like I give and give and give to people. I know in my heart that I am not wanting anything in return but my head says that they should be returning the favor. Should there be some standard I hold myself to, strictly to challenge myself into failing, so I could prove my point, that I’m not capable or good enough? That I’m not too old or energetic enough or strong enough or smart enough? Why do I do this to myself?
Second, there’s too much anxiety that comes as a result of being a highly sensitive person. I don’t love buying into the cliché with self-descriptions, but this is a real thing. My energy is sacred and limited. I’ve come to discover many things that drain my energy: being in loud, crowded spaces without a hole to collect myself in. Spending too much time with extremely extroverted people, who I can’t keep up with. Trying to solve so many of my daughters issues and conflicts. My therapist suggested that I’m also probably losing a great deal of physical energy as a result of the above mentioned expectations. His perfect imagery of a runner, muscles clenched, crouched at the starting line, preparing for the gun to go off, really got through to me. For weeks, before any anticipated events in my life (even seeing my own family) I tighten up and begin to cycle through the conversations and scenarios and thoughts and expectations and potential outcomes and the million of feelings I could experience. This happens more so with anything that has to do with K. I try to plan ahead to put out fires before they happen. To figure out what her next meltdown is going to be like. It really is like being a runner, waiting at the starting line all day, every day, for a race that doesn’t start until next month. It’s no surprise why I’m exhausted (actually, it was quite a surprise. Being the self-obsessed person I am, he had a very valid explanation for my fatigue.)
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had such incredible access to mental health services for such a long time. Now my 2nd super kick-ass therapist, I realize just how much these resources can do to help a person heal. There’s so much to be said about both of my therapists(Ang in Iowa and Adam here) and the experiences I’ve had. The way I’ve opened and challenged myself, has never easy. I think there is a lot within my story that can be of use to other people, especially those in similar places in their lives. I vow to always be candid and straightforward as I continue to share my relationship with mental health, therapy, and struggle with life and in my relationships with others.