Suddenly I See

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Circus Freak

Here's the thing, the first couple of weeks after I got married (posts and pictures of that wonderful, fun, amazing day to come) I was pretty much an anxious mess. Change and me don't go so well together. It really wasn't the change of getting married. I really love that. But just the idea that things were different coupled with the fact that all my thoughts were no longer focused on the wedding made me a little, well, anxious. Anxiety and I are no strangers so it wasn't exactly a foreign feeling to me. But still I don't like it.

I think with all the wedding planning I always had something to focus my nervous energy on. Without that planning I went back to thinking about things that made me anxious. The majority of those thoughts being about the changes in my family over the past year. And also about the pressure I put on myself about being married. Will I be good enough? Will I put in enough effort? How will I know if it's enough? And on and on. Changing my last name at work made me anxious and I don't even have to do that. It is not lost on me that I am doing this all to myself.

In other words when I met with my therapist last Thursday she probably didn't know what hit her. The bottom line as I told her is that I no longer want to be anxious about anything, realistic right? She told me anxiety is better than depression. I don't want either. But this woman. She is amazing. She gets me. I pour out my heart, I cry, I am sure I am incomprehensible at times. But she gets me. She remembers things I told her like over two years ago. And she puts it in place for me. I speak and I say things and she listens and without her saying anything back to me things click into place.

Take for instance, that I for some reason can't put all of my beautiful wedding presents away. My OCD takes over and I can't function enough to find proper places for them so I just don't do it. But I want to. I am telling her this and all of a sudden I blurt out a very clarifying thought "I spend all my time trying to fix the things I can't change or control and I do nothing about the things I can change or fix". She didn't give me a solution for this but just putting that thought out there helped me. It was what Oprah would call an "AHA" moment. It's out there and I can start to work on it.

I spoke with her about how it is so hard for me to let go and move on. And I told her the things I worry about and what weighs on my mind and heart. And she gave me a life changing analogy/metaphor.

She said this, think of life and change like trapeze performers. There is the person that swings around and there is the person that stands on one bar to catch the swinging person. One day the "catcher" decides that he wants to swing around. He knows it will be scary but he knows that once he gets to the other bar he will okay. It will be scary while he is swinging around and so it's smart to put up some safety nets but he will get to the other bar.

It clicked for me. It was something I can visualize. Getting to that other bar is where I want to be. She even illustrated for me what is at that other bar. All the swinging will be scary but it will be fine. It will be okay.

I told her that made a lot of sense to me and I can see myself at the other bar but the problem I have is that even when I get to the new bar I stare longingly back at the old bar. I loved that bar. It was safe and happy. And to me there was nothing wrong with that bar. She told me that I have to stop clinging to it. Let my grip on it go. Nothing on that bar will change, it will always be that way and I can always look back on it and of course it's hard but the new bar holds everything beautiful because the future is beautiful.

Over the past week I have thought constantly about those two bars. The one I was on and the one I now need to be on. Whenever I think about the way things were I block it out and immediately think about the new bar. It has helped me immensely, beyond measure. I needed this visualization technique. I know it will eventually be easier to look at the old bar but I have to stop torturing myself with it, it is so much more important to look to the future than to cling to the past. Memories are beautiful and they will always be there and never change.

I think I have let go of some anxiety. It's hard though. My OCD is safe. My therapist says that I go back to it because it's like an old friend. A frienemy I like to think. It's work to not let it overcome me and sometimes it's easier to just let it overcome me. But the key is to do something constructive with the anxiety rather than let it become OCD.

I am less anxious this week. Partly because things are settling down but mostly thanks to my doc and her great advise and analogies. It's nice to know that I can write a check and have this woman help me.

She's like a friend that you pay for good advice for an hour.

Her final advice that day was "Put away your wedding presents.".


Pam said...

Oh, my sweet little Katie. Reach for that bar, it holds great things for you. You will always have the memories of how things were, but the other bar holds great things for you.
I promise.

Eliza said...

Katie I love this. You are so strong! Such a good person!

I remember when I was trying to decide whether to marry Matt, one thing that kept holding me back was the "what if" thoughts pertaining to my own actions. What if I was not good enough for him? What if I regretted my choice and wished I had gone down other avenues? (keep in mind I was 20 at the time and it really seemed to me like I could do ANYTHING with my life) Ultimately what hit me was: I am the ONLY one who has control over my choices. "Future Me" wasn't going to do anything to mess it up unless I let her. I had never seen it that way before and it was so liberating.

Of course you can't control many outside circumstances and you definitely can't control what other people do. But it is really freeing to realize how much control you do have.

As far as the anxiety...totally been there, maybe not to the same extent but I know how hard it is. It is so debilitating. You are strong though and can totally kick that anxiety back to where it belongs.


Rhona Joyce said...

I am so glad that you have found a therapist who "gets" you and offers you hope. I love you and everything about you, my friend. Know that YOU control the OCD, not the other way around.

Katie said...

Thanks guys!! You all make me feel so loved and special!!