Tuesday, September 8, 2015

One week later.

I look back and think of how long I've felt on edge and I wonder. The past few years have been tough. A lot of big things happened, and a lot of little things happened, and they all affected me. I've felt like a top. I spun along happily and unhappily for a long time. I've felt wobbles - spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, socially - that set me off. I kept trying to self correct, to get back to spinning. For the most part, I was very successful, but I still felt those wobbles deeply. I think that this summer, for whatever reason, I finally just stopped spinning. It felt like I would never spin again. I couldn't even remember how to spin, and the thought of trying to pretend to the world that I was still spinning was one of the most frightening things I've ever encountered.

A few weeks ago I met with a therapist. It was supremely unhelpful. I'm sure that he was well-qualified and probably had a lot he could have done for me, but I wasn't impressed. After 45 minutes of talking over what had gotten me into his office in the first place, he looked at me and asked, "So, what do you want to do?" To say I was let down is an understatement. Isn't that what he was supposed to tell me? I mean, I know he can't tell me what to do, but some guidance would have been helpful. Armed with a few pages of recommended self-help books, I left.

However, that hour wasn't totally unhelpful. While talking, I realized that one of the things that has always kept me spinning has been by looking for approval. I can explain this best from the perspective of my time as a gymnast. To get along during a workout, the trick was to do everything as perfect as possible in order to stay out of trouble. Very little that I did went by unnoticed: my toes weren't pointed, I bent my legs, I didn't cast all the way to handstand, I held back on a tumbling pass, I didn't complete the twist, I fell off the beam, etc. When things were bad, coaches yelled and threatened and told me to get out of their faces, only to expect me to come back a few minutes later, confessing what I did wrong, and promising to do better. When things were good, I got praise and approval. There was some in-between with some coaches or events, but mostly it was all or nothing. Good or bad. And so I got used to reaching for approval from the outward things I did, to being rewarded when I followed the rules.

Of course, real life isn't the same. I don't always get praise for doing something well, or for following the rules. Doing outward things doesn't win other's love or approval. I know that. But sometimes I forget and I revert to that person. I have a hard time letting go. I like structure and rules and when I feel like they aren't being followed, I find it hard to keep spinning. 

I know that this part of my personality has contributed to getting me to where I was last week. I'm so glad to say that I'm feeling a lot better this week. After all of my bravery, I ended up talking with my doctor on Tuesday (after a truly awful night on Monday) and I'm now taking something for my anxiety. It's helping. My days are better, and my nights are getting there. I still have a very hard time turning off my brain. But I'm not as anxious about the lack of sleep, and that helps.

We spent Sunday night in Park City. It was such a nice way to finish off the summer. Although I still felt edgy at times, I enjoyed the time away. I'll admit I was super anxious about staying in a hotel room with insomnia. But it worked out. Life is hard. It's hard to spin. It's hard to spin for yourself and for others. But it's necessary. I have people who need me, and I'm grateful they do.

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