On Thursday I realized that I was feeling anxious, manic, yes indeed, I would even call it high. I wondered about that for all I was doing at that moment was preparing to head out for work! I climbed into my car and drove off, humming a tune, noticing the glorious autumn leaves all around. No mistaking it – I was as high as a kite, because, at the same time, I discovered that my eyes were burning as if I had a fever, and there was an underlying anxiety at the core of my being. In fact, it seemed stored right underneath my rib-cage. "What could be wrong?" I wondered out loud to myself in the car. I turned off the radio and focused on the road ahead, allowing myself to hold still, and experience the discomfort of highness and anxiety.
And then it came to me. One of those small, delightful revelations, epiphany-types of moments that make the whole day seem clear and shining. I had started to take care of myself again: Eating right, working out, doing yoga breathing exercises, taking vitamins, having lavender de-stress type baths – but, mainly, and more specifically returning to therapy.
As I concentrated on the feeling of anxiety throughout Thursday, I was yearning for my blog – I needed to write it down, explore the root causes and understand what was happening to me. For consciousness and awareness do not come often, and when they arrive, I like to be ready and open so as not to lose the moment – to explore the gift that I am suddenly giving myself. The day was way too busy though – meetings, advising students scheduling for spring semester classes, teaching, answering emails and phone calls – the usual self-exploration interceptions and distractions. However, this time, the moment did not get lost, or subside back into my sub-conscious. I have been thinking about it ever since – even managed to chat with a friend at lunch yesterday, sharing my thoughts and wonderings.
The enormity of the discovery for me is this: Inherent in the feel-good mania of taking care of myself is a sense of danger – Like, how dare I? Almost as if I am entering forbidden territory – a place I do not deserve to go. This is not new. I have felt it before. Each time I diet and lose weight, and feel and look good. When I completed my doctorate. After having my baby. When I got married. After a great lunch with a friend I love, who loves me back. When I sing in public. After a great presentation. The list is endless. It has to do with being successful. But, at the moment, the feeling of high anxiety is directly connected to the intentionality of taking care of myself.
I must admit I have been doing a lot of that this past year. Owning my mistakes and apologizing to loved ones. Making time for pleasure. Allowing myself time to work out or meditate. Taking friends and family with me to celebrate my 60th birthday in Paris. Intentionally choosing to not allow work-stress to harm my peace of mind. Recovering the love for my family members, and allowing them to love me back.
However, there must be some things I still want to take care of, because I have chosen to return myself to therapy. These must be deep and seemingly dangerous issues. Ones that need my full attention, that might be reached only after clearing away all that other stuff I worked on before.
Of course I have an inkling – a niggling suspicion – about what the issues are. After all, no one forced or required me to return to therapy. I chose to do that myself – for myself! Intentionally.
And, as scary as it may be – I am tantalized and excited too. So, I think I will just hold still and allow myself to feel the joy that bubbles alongside the high anxiety, and see where this new adventure leads me.
A year ago at Mining Nuggets: America, we cannot turn back
Yesterday, I received this message from a friend, who gave me permission to print here:
I just read your blog about anxiety – and I thought I would pass on these thoughts …
You know that masochism has its own defense system … and one of the ways it puts up a battle, is to cause an internal ruckus that can often feel like anxiety when you actually take measures that counter the masochistic mechanism. Hence all the anxieties about steps of strength and empowerment that are good for you. I have it too – as I am a recovering masochist, who still has masochistic tendencies (every time I put some extra something in my mouth, I reinforce the negative charge I get from looking in the mirror and not liking what I see, etc.) There is pleasure in pain…. All this is courtesy of
[a] great therapist, Henriette T. Glatzer …
The other book I mentioned was The Dead Mother: The work of Andre Green. It has these wonderful chapters like The dead mother syndrome and the reconstruction of trauma and Dead mother, dead child. You know that every time you take these steps of empowerment, you are also betraying the narcissistic bond with your mother. You are going beyond her border. There is a ton in that … I am sure you have probably touched in this in your own work… but I mention it again, because I know THAT as well …
Anyhow, I feel your pain. I could also put an astrological spin on it, but I will refrain.