Are you waiting to be found out?
Waiting for the other shoe to drop?
Waiting to be judged for something in your old story?
I’ve mentioned before, I do an awful lot of thinking about thinking. Recently, I have had this “waiting to be found out” feeling.
My practice is when I have a strong feeling, bring it in close and be curious of the root. So I began……
I am a Psychotherapist who knows anxiety on an intimate level.
I struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. However, anxiety masked herself for years and years.
When I was a child, she began doing what she could to manage the chaos in our house. This included believing that she could change the mood in the house at anytime. She believed this was her responsibility.
When I was a teenager, anxiety looked like a whole lot of self medicating so as not to feel.
When I was in my 20s, she sabotaged any happiness I might grasp onto. She did this by knowing it all, by reacting instead of responding, and by doing her best to protect herself from feeling out of control in any way.
When I was in my 30s, I was married and began to have children. Life felt beautiful. Life felt oddly calm, and life felt good……too good.
Anxiety began to show herself, but this time she was wearing a mask. She would creep up on me at my happiest moments.
Instead of kicking me when I was down, she pounced when I least expected it.
During a dance recital for my daughter, she would whisper, “What if you got into a crash on the way home?”
While watching my son play on the playground, she would remind me, “You aren’t always a great Mom, you should do better.”
When arriving home after a long day, and feeling exhausted, she would compare me to other Moms who seem to balance it all with ease.
She grew into a bully. A bully that wouldn’t allow me to feel happiness.
She was always there, to remind me I’m not as great as I think I am.
She was always there to rip my happiness right out from under me if I wasn’t careful.
She was always there to whisper hurtful words into my ear, which lowered my chin a bit and slumped my shoulders.
She reminded me that I am not as good as other women in remembering their birthdays, and I never send Christmas cards.
She never missed a chance to mention that my chest is small and my legs are skinny.
She wouldn’t let me forget the label she had assigned to me as “not a school person.”
She refused to allow me to feel worthy.
Did you forget that you got kicked off the cheerleading squad in high school?
Did you miss that all those other girls graduated from college “on time”?
She was relentless.
Eventually she masked herself as anger and defensiveness.
The more you feed anxiety, the more her power grows.
If I couldn’t feel happiness, I felt anger.
This looked like arguments with my husband over silly stuff.
This looked like lack of patience with my children.
This looked like “on and off” communication with family members, depending on who I might be angry at.
This looked like a whole lot of conflict and not much connection.
One day, someone else visited. I believe it was compassion. She whispered something different into my ear……she said “this is a choice…this is all a choice.”
She said “take my hand, your road hasn’t been easy, allow me to show you the way”.
Compassion began to show kindness to me, even in the face of anxiety.
Compassion was not a bit intimidated by her.
When anxiety yelled, compassion just nodded her head and said…."I understand, this is what you know."
When anxiety said “but……” compassion said, “It’s okay, I’ll stay by your side”.
When anxiety made my heart race and “what if’ed” me, compassion loved me through it.
Compassion was there through my whole journey. She is just much more quiet than anxiety.
We can’t always hear compassion.
We have to create a space to hear compassion.
I began to hear her in my late 30s when I took a leap and returned to school.
I heard her when I walked into my class of mostly younger students.
She was there as I walked across the stage to accept my Master's in Counseling.
Don’t get me wrong, anxiety showed up to ask “who do you think you are” ……I just smiled at her and decided I know exactly who I am.
I am whoever I say I am.
I am who I decide to be every day.
Anxiety and I no longer speak the same language.
She still comes around from time to time.
We aren’t so much friends but acquaintances now.
My new group of friends include compassion, kindness, empathy, joy, and mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the leader of our group, she reminds me on a daily basis to meet myself where I am that day.
Today, I wanted to remind you all that this therapist knows anxiety well.
Self disclosure is frowned upon in my work.
I’ve never been good at following the rules.
Why shouldn’t you see my imperfections?
I want to show you my scars so that you too can begin to hear compassion.
I am not good at what I do because I am perfect….I am good at what I do because I can see you.
I see you, and I know your bully well.
I have filled my own cup so that now I have enough to give away.
Allow me to introduce you to my group of my friends…..I know you will like them.
Kerry Foreman MA
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