I had an appointment with my therapist this morning about the self-generated turmoil in my life. Truth is things are going swimmingly. New business is stressful because its success or its failure rests entirely upon my shoulders and does directly correlate to how well I manage my time, energy, and overall efficiency in hitting the established targets. For the most part, it is going very, very well. The new clients I have acquired are appreciative and express their satisfaction with the work done for them thus far, invoices were issued on the first and 90% of them have already been paid. Eating and exercise are actually going well, progress is being made, and most importantly – after just about 3 months of investment with trainer J, I am still exercising regularly and my eating is much more controlled. Clothes are starting to fit differently – and for me it is all about the clothes – even if the scale shows seems to be a back-and-forth with two pounds down, one pound up cycle. M and I remain good, solid, and loving, if frictioning a bit with my stress and anxiety of late.
So what precisely is my problem? Why am I anxious and insecure and feel as if I have initiated a personal self-destruction sequence?
While with my therapist this morning, we traced back to what is changing in my life right now and how they are primarily very positive changes. Yes, it is very stressful to strike out on my own and risk failure. Yes, hiring a trainer is expensive yet also leaves me in the vulnerable student/follower position when I am typically a teacher/leader in my professional and personal lives. Yes, facing my self-image demons and going to the gym by myself to workout takes courage and requires a push to get there.
Deep down, I suppose I do not feel deserving of success. I have always worked hard, pushed myself to do and be my best, yet shied away from the spotlight and taking credit for successes, shouldering more than my share of blame for any failures. It is a hard habit to break. When it comes to my appearance (and working out/losing weight/gaining strength directly affects that), I become extraordinarily uncomfortable if anyone pays too much or provides positive attention and feedback. This is a lifelong battle, because as a child sexual abuse survivor, I have been unsuccessful in untwisting and safely processing what “pretty” and “sexy” mean to me, and I am terrified of ever being that. I am okay with being characterized as nice or having a “great personality,” because in my mind that translates to wallflower plain and invisible, therefore safe. If he does not see me, he cannot hurt me.
I am kind to others. If anyone were to characterize me as mean or deliberately cruel I would be completely crushed. Those kinds of compliments I can accept with some grace, but my hair stylist suggesting I was looking thinner (therefore better)? I trip over my tongue in denial or deflecting with humor.
And I know this. I wish I did not. I always wish to be confident that my emotional scars are completely healed or at least so well within my control that I need not worry about them any longer. But here I am again, on the pathway to getting stronger and healthier, and I am freaking the f–k out over crossing paths with people I know when I am not hidden away behind my invisible woman uniform or that the person who “sees” me when I am at the gym recognizes me outside our regularly scheduled appointment times.
Understanding the triggers makes them easier to anticipate and prepare for, yet I am too new into these areas of my life to recognize and conquer completely these booby traps waiting to emotionally ensnare me. I did ask for some medication to help when it gets really out of hand, but therapy doc wants me to try some of the other coping tools I have for the next few weeks. Considering I will be on vacation for about half the time until our follow-up appointment, I believe it is a fair solution. He has far more faith in me than I have in myself, which seems to be the storyline of my life lately. But I will try. I can take tiny little steps and still make forward progress. And he is but a phone call away if I need help.
Which is another of my falterings – I have so much difficulty asking for help. Forgive me, friends; I am still getting finding my footing with admitting I have a problem much less accepting a hand up when I fall down.
But it has been a good day, one with clearer thinking and the ability to simply be myself and get things done without the weight of “shoulds” and other unreasonable, unrealistic expectations.