It’s not a secret that I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with a constant state of fear, knots in my tummy, an all-consuming worry that something awful is about the befall me and/or my family at any given moment. And because of my anxiety, it leads to all other sorts of complications in my life: not taking chances, not being as social as I know I can be, self-confidence issues and tons and tons of doubt flowing through my mind on a daily basis. Panic attacks are infrequent as I can recognize the signs and generally calm myself down, but they still happen.
It is exhausting. It is so exhausting. And I hate feeling like there is something wrong with me, like I am broken and need to be fixed.
What is stopping you from making an appointment with a therapist? is the question Ashley posed to me during our 60-minute call on Friday night.
I could give tons of excuses: laziness, not really knowing how to go about setting up an appointment, money, etc. I can cite my (self-prescribed) social anxiety and how the thought of stepping into an office where I have to talk about my feelings on a regular basis scares the crap out of me. I don’t like talking about my feelings (which is probably why my last pseudo-relationship ended like it did because he was all “Let’s talk about our FEEEEELINGS!” and I’m all, “So, did you see the game last night?”) and I just prefer to shove all my actual emotions deep down into my heart and not deal with them. I would rather put on a happy face and act like things don’t hurt me than actually deal with my feelings. I’m getting better at it but it’s not something that comes easily for me.
My family has never been a touchy-feely, let’s-talk-about-our-feelings family. With my mom and my brother, we are getting better and better at communicating and expressing ourselves but there’s still that tendency to shove everything under the rug, keep our mouths shut, and pretend everything is hunky-dory. It’s easier. Simpler. Less involved.
And while all of the above is true, I think there’s also one big reason I keep putting off therapy.
Most of you are familiar with the background surrounding my father’s relationship with me (short story? He decided he did not want to be a part of my life anymore after I actually expressed how I felt about his treatment of me throughout the years. He sent me a scathing reply back, with words no daughter should ever hear from her father. See why I don’t like talking about my feelings?)
I’ve been holding onto my resentment, my anger, my sadness surrounding our relationship. I’ve been keeping it locked up tight. It may sound funny since I actually talk about my father a lot on this blog it seems, but it’s something I don’t open up much about in my life. I don’t want people to think I’m seeking their pity and honestly, it’s a pretty personal subject that I only bring up if I have advice or an “insider’s view” to offer someone. I’m a private person to MOST people and I can count on one hand the number of people I feel comfortable enough talking about my actual feelings on things that are private & personal. I tend to shut down emotionally when people bring my dad up, because it only serves to dredge up emotions I’d rather not deal with and all-consuming sadness that my father is still alive and well, yet wants nothing to do with me. It breaks my heart anew every day.
I managed to open up to Ashley about my dad and how I was a bit frightened what would be expected of me in regards to talking about him. And it’s something I could keep refusing to talk about (even in therapy) but it’s something I know I have to stop refusing to talk about. I have to open up about it. I have to express my feelings. I have to let myself cry about our failed relationship. Did you know I’ve cried ONCE about my dad? One. Time. That was when he sent me the nasty reply back. Since then, though I may be on the verge of tears, I don’t let them fall. I do everything in my power to keep those tears inside my eyeballs, because I can’t let him win. I can’t let him make me cry.
I’m scared to talk about my father, because I am so emotional over him. I am so, so sad and so, so angry. I want him back in my life so badly, yet I know unless I get an apology, I can’t let him back in my life. I’m scared to stop holding onto this resentment and anger and sadness and guilt because it’s the one thing that keeps him in my life. It’s my one grasp on my father. If I talk about him, if I actually let go of the anger and sadness, then I actually have to let him go. He will no longer have this hold over me. And he will be gone from my life. Not entirely, because he is still my father and he will always be a part of my heart, but in a big way, I will be letting him go.
That scares me to death.
But on the other hand, I know it will be the most freeing thing I can do to myself. I know it’s holding me back from so much. I know I let his words affect my life and my actions way too much. And to finally work through the pain, work through the emotions, work through our relationship will be the best thing I can do to let go and move on with my life. He may never be the father I need him to be to allow him back into my life, and I have to be okay with that.
During the call with Ashley, one of my action steps to take was to set up a therapy appointment. That’s the first step in healing, in figuring out how to control my anxiety, and something I continue to put off because I’m terrified with what therapy will reveal to me. But I’m tired of this half-life I am living, tired of feeling too broken to be in a relationship, tired of the constant worry that eats away at me every day. I’m ready to figure out what steps I need to take to live a life with more abundance and everyday joy.
So I made an appointment. On Halloween. I am going to therapy.
Any advice you can give a first-time therapy goer is greatly appreciated! I am quite nervous, but also feel relieved to have crossed the first hurdle in taking care of myself.