Object Lessons

 I can tend to compulsively manage my life. I do this in three areas especially: finances, recovery, and school. If you’ve been reading this blog for a couple months, you know about the financial stress I put myself under. Each thing has its place, and each place has its thing. As I told my therapist in our session last week, my life is like a row of little boxes, spaced perfectly evenly. If I happen to knock one of them even 1/16 of an inch from its position, I have massive anxiety. In fact, this what what our entire session was about last week. The session got far more intense than even I expected, and more personal than I’m going to detail here.

Unsurprisingly, this week has been my object lesson.

It began Monday night, which was of course the night before I started my semester. Some recovery things came up where I wasn’t DOING MY RECOVERY PERFECTLY. Oh, and this did come up in the middle of the night, also.

For this situation, I texted a recovery friend the next morning, emailed my sponsor, and then had dinner with another recovery friend after a meeting that evening.  The consensus was clear – have compassion on yourself. All three of these individuals said that, and they hadn’t even talked to each other beforehand! Imagine.

The next day, I found out I had a massive problem with one of my classes that I am required to have to graduate; I was waitlisted, and all the caps were raised so it was absolutely impossible for me to get into a class. The associate dean of my department, who I just happen to be TAing for this semester, told me to go talk to some people about a portfolio I could submit in place of taking the class. She also very graciously gave me permission to use her name when I went and talked to them. I came away from the conversation with the student worker with an inconclusive answer, so I turned around and emailed the portfolio director, CC’ing the associate dean. Then I had to wait. Meanwhile I’d already decided to stop trying to get into the class and just enroll in something else, which caused me a lot of anxiety. But I made the decision based on the suggestion of the associate dean, choosing to trust someone higher up than myself. And I didn’t hear back from the director before I had to give up my internet connection (which I don’t have at home).

In the end, last night, when I could have been at my most anxious, I decided to do something new. I decided to trust powers bigger than myself. In this situation, that included the associate dean of my department, and my HP. I journaled my thoughts out. Then I turned the lights off and did compassion (metta) meditation until I fell asleep less than 5 minutes later.

Normally, when I am anxious about something, it keeps me up for hours and I have to take melatonin to sleep. It’s amazing what happens for me when I decide to let it go and trust that I am not the only one in charge of my life.

Needless to say, when I checked my email yesterday morning, my school issues were all worked out, and my schedule is now better than before. I am able to take a much funner class than my prerequisite class, actually. A class called Wellness, Resilience, and Emotional Intelligence. Irony, anyone? 🙂

What do you do when your anxiety takes over? How do you calm yourself down?

when words vanish.

I’ve taken to writing posts after I’ve been through an EMDR session, and this week is no exception. However… some things are too private to share so publicly, and I don’t quite know what to tell you today. Secrets are meant for the closest of friends.

I feel tender, broken open. Like a cantaloupe split down the middle and cascading with slick, vibrant seeds. And when I feel raw like that, opening up for the whole word feels sacrilegious.

Instead, I’m going to leave you with this video, which for now says more than I could put into words.

The worst 4-letter word.

The last week and a half have been refreshingly normal. More than that, the word defining the past week and a half would have to be… humble.

Humility was a word that came up for me at 2 meetings this week, within 2 days of each other. It’s not a topic I hear much, and oddly, it was just what the Doctor ordered.

(Side note: wouldn’t it be cool if Dr. Who was my HP? Not like in the traveling companion sense, that doesn’t work for my love addiction, but in the Time Lord sense. That would be kind of awesome)

There have been many times in my life where I get to a place of overwhelm and forget humility. I continue on, pushing ahead, trying to manage on my own. My mantra?

“IF GOD DOESN’T DO IT I’LL JUST HAVE TO DO IT MYSELF!!!” *huff puff gripe whine collapse*

This past week or so, since my ah-ha that no one can fulfill my needs and that I can’t get over my defect of control all by my lonesome, humility has brought me down again and again. At least once a day I’ve stopped, rolled my eyes upward (sometimes with a little annoyance) and said, “Okay. Help. I give up.”

You know what is funny? Once you get a little humility… help always comes. Sometimes it’s as simple as dropping off to sleep. Other times, it’s getting a call from someone else who needs experience, strength, and hope. But it always appears.

I honestly think that if I hadn’t discovered the key of humility, I would have gone out sooner or later. I’m a supreme white knuckler. As a perfectionist, if I’m told I shouldn’t do something, I can buckle under and not do it. But sooner or later I will explode, unless I have help from something bigger. I know I was heading to the area of explosion because my resentment about having to follow all the rules was growing steadily.

But now, instead of exploding, I find space. I stop. Most of all, I open my lips and push out the worst four letter word in the world: HELP.

When even my therapist can’t give me what I want.

I had my therapy session yesterday, and it was disappointing. It was one of those sessions where you’re left wondering, “Why am I even here?” I should know enough by now to expect those sessions to come, but I don’t. I get cranky and annoyed. The last thing I said before I left was, “I don’t feel like I accomplished much in here today.” He smiled at me kindly as always and said “Don’t beat yourself up about it.”

That sentence is foreign to me, as you all might know by now. I might as well be hearing someone speak in Mongolian. I’ve been trying to unwind the session ever since and what it seems to come down to is something really hilarious, but exactly what I’ve been dealing with.

I’m throwing a fit because my therapist didn’t give me what I wanted. I didn’t get to cry and lose it and be comforted. I didn’t even do much EMDR yesterday, I did more talking. And I was peeved. Come on! You’re supposed to be a machine and predict what I want before I want it. Aren’t you?

This just proves the point of exactly what we were talking about in my session yesterday. My inner child has this glorious expectation that I should have a perfect, fantasaical relationship where I can always get what I need. He described a situation where I could come to his office, be fulfilled, then if I walk down the hall and realize it’s not good enough, I could come right back and it would be okay. He asked if that’s what it was that would be my perfect fantasy relationship. Yes, indeed, said I. That’s exactly what I would love.

The problem is that people aren’t machines, and they aren’t programmed to fulfill my every whim. They never have been. My inner child thinks this is a crime.

So now I sit here, with a decidedly unsatisfying session yesterday, and I get to acknowledge it. Be with it. Clearly see that, “you know what Laurie, you are not guaranteed to get what you want out of people, even your therapist who is one of your favorite people in the world.” It’s so irritating yet hilarious. I can see how unrealistic it is. And I think I should have gotten this by now after a year in love addiction recovery, but you know what, it’s that perfect romance story that I have to surrender over and over. Romance, relationship, whatever. The point is that I think neediness equals love.

I am asking my HP for grace as I sit with this and discover just how to deal with the fact that no one in this world can fulfill me. It’s a little harsh to figure out.

Has anyone else had this experience? Would love to hear your experience strength and hope on this subject!