self care struggle—pain
lurks around corners
recently, followers have read about self care struggle and self care struggle-part deux. they had a common theme of self care seemingly going well and as planned yet the results were as if an emotional mine had gone off leaving emotional parts of me here and there.
i recognize myself as a closet anxietiest (yep, i just mase up that word). i have my struggles with anxiety, sometimes general about this, that, or the other thing and social anxiety at a level of being frozen for being judged by other people. these can be pretty debilitating at times, but i muddle through.
my understanding of anxiety became skewed in a job finding class i took after college. they highly suggested that the word anxious should not be used in a cover letter; it carries negative connotations. i followed true to form and took things a step further, pretty much banning anxious and anxiety from my vocabulary. i believe that event has made it easier for me to wander through the waters of northern egypt, de-nile, on my struggles with anxiety.
the other night, i found myself at a support group sharing about part deux. i had just finished sharing and another anxietiest shared with their reflections on the event. it goes like this.
to paraphrase, they said, “i got all worked up for the phone call, i readied myself for a fight. even though i just left a message, my body experienced anxiety as if the fight i had planned for actually happened. that caused me to reach a point of emotional drainage.i had experienced a form of anxiety.”
it made perfect sense. i looked back on the first self-care struggle. it followed the exact same pattern; gird my loins, go into battle, experience no real battle, feel wiped out. another bout with anxiety. that pattern occurs all too frequently in my life.
that has similarities to another pattern i experience. get ready and go to battle, start to feel like i’m losing, start to feel like i’m cornered and then the outcome splits here.
the first split i do what ever i need to do to get out of the corner. if i need to fight dirty to get my way out, so be it. if i need to hurt others, that just comes with the territory. when the dust has settled i feel exhausted.
the second split i emotionally freeze and make myself as small as i possibly can. hopefully the person i battle with will lose sight of me, forget the reason they where there, then leave. that’s my hope against hopes. in the end i feel really exhausted.
the common thread through these scenarios happens at the end of each of these instances. no matter what, i experience that feeling of exhaustion. no wonder i feel like rex in the movie toy story when he exclaims, waving his short little arms, “i hate conflict!”
after i wrote this, i left it to sit a little while. i remembered back to a bipolar friend of mine who wanted to give me solution based support when i desired acknowledgment based support. additionally, he vehemently and strongly objected to Mary, not to me, about me coming out publicly to a club where we both had memberships. he played his diagnosis close to the vest and he couldn’t understand how i could be so public. i decided he would not be healthy for my getting better. our friendship wilted on the vine.
coming back to the present, i started future tripping about the near inevitable reunion/encounter with them. i could imagine every conversational repartee. every outcome seemed predetermined. as this continued. i finally recognized my gut starting to tighten. with that, i found myself falling into the same trap i had fallen into twice recently. i felt myself preparing for battle even though no war had been declared or implied. even the envisioning of future conflict represents potential anxiety for me; they represent another potential minefield.
today, i add new types of anxiety to my personal library, conflict based anxiety and even future tripping about conflict. in a strange way, i feel comforted being able to put a label on it; it makes anxiety seem a little less scary. i’m sure the more i live, i will continue to add books and stacks to my anxiety library. that’s enough added to my collection for today, thank you.