Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It's Not an Emergency Until It's an Emergency

One of the most difficult obstacles in overcoming anxiety is changing the way one views her life and all of its' intricacies.  For me this most often revolves around perfectionism in organization and cleanliness.  One of the most powerful strategies that have helped me, with the assistance of my psychologist, was a component from the book Mastery of Your Anxiety and Worry: Workbook.  There are a series of steps before beginning this one, but for some reason this is the step that made things click, so to speak.  What are the "real odds" of this really happening?  By "this" I mean whatever item/event it is that I am catastrophizing.  I was forced to realize that I really was turning the bathrooms being dirty, the floors having crumbs, or running late to bring the kids to school into a full blown emergency.  Sometimes I would yell, sometimes I would go in to another room and cry, often times I cut out my social life and put my own well being on the back burner.  And, yes, multiple times I cut.  In the beginning my insides felt as though they were twisting.  My internal organs were being squeezed by an invisible fist that made it difficult to breathe.  I, therefore, had to do whatever it took to ease this force and it had to be done fast.  Until my doctor asked me "Well, what will happen if...the floors have crumbs on them, the girls don't get to school on time, the house isn't clean before you go to bed?" I never really thought about it until then.  All I thought about was reducing the pressure in my chest because I wasn't perfect.  I also never thought about how likely it would be for that worst case scenario (which usually wasnt that bad) was to happen.  What are the odds that the teacher is going to think that I am a horrible mother because the kids didn't get to school on time one day?  What are the real odds that my family and friends are going to think I am a huge slob because I have three little girls that left crumbs on the floor from breakfast?

What are the real odds?  Is it really an emergency?  Does the situation really require an overwhelming degree of stress, thought, and strain?  Most likely...NO.  It's not an emergency until it is an emergency.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Parent's Love is a Paradox

There exists a paradox in the love between my parents and myself, despite the fact that I know they don't recognize it.  I am learning that at this point in our lives they probably never will.  I do not doubt their undying love for me.  I do not doubt that they would give their life for me.  I am, however, giving up on them ever realizing that their actions and their choice of words have led me into years of compulsiveness, anxiety, and even depression at times.  My father's mother and father abused alcohol.  My maternal grandfather was an alcoholic and to my understanding my maternal grandmother wasn't exactly the epitome of a role model mother.  The summer after my second year in college my mother told me I "have till Tuesday at 11:00 a.m." to be moved out.  Then she called everyone in my family and asked them not to contact me because "Kim ran away."  It was shortly after this that my grandfather, who by this time had been about 13 years sober, had told me about Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA).

This is now where I struggle having a relationship with them.  The Adult Children of Alcoholics World Organization have developed a laundry list of common traits that people in this category most often display.  ACA repress their feelings from their traumatic childhood losing their ability to feel or express emotion, they judge themselves harshly and have a low self-esteem, they are approval seekers and lose their identity in the process, they are frightened of angry people and any personal criticism, they have an over-developed sense of responsibility, and these are just a few.  What's frustrating is that in spite of never abusing a drink (or any other substance for that matter) they take on the characteristics of the disease.  And, holy cow, have my parents ever!  I could list many of the ways they treated me, but that would make them sound like horrible people.  That fact of the matter is  that despite leaving their homes at 18 years old, not pursuing any higher education, my father traveling across the country living out of his car, taking odd jobs, and my mother marrying a drug addict, they pulled themselves out of a potentially volatile lifestyle.  At one point my father worked three jobs to take care of my mother, myself, and my three little sisters.  He went to an apprenticeship and worked his way up in his company.  When my sisters and I were older and in school full time my mom took on a position with a reputable company and has since worked her way up.  My point to all of this is that they worked hard for us.  This, I'm learning, is how they show love...I think?  This is also what makes having a relationship with them difficult.  (I just reread this and it might be confusing.  So to clarify here are a few facts.  The drug addict my mom married is my biological father.  She left him when I was around a year old.  The father I will refer to in the rest of this post is my "dad."  He adopted me after he married my mom when I was around 2 1/2.)

It is my guess that because my parents are ACA they have said and not said things every young child and teenager needs and doesn't need to hear from her parents.  The same goes for their actions.  Here lies the paradox.  Treating someone someone horribly but loving them unconditionally.  And here lies my paradox.  Being treated horribly and holding on to rage and resentment, craving what was never there but still...STILL...undoubtedly loving and needing them.  The struggle continues as different situations arise.  This morning my father called me and left a voicemail asking me to call him back.  Immediately my stomach climbed into my throat as he only calls to lecture me (in his words "advice).  I've learned over the years that this always leaves me in despair for at least a week.  My recent thoughts are to keep my distance and take what he says in strife.  So I decided to call him back with an ice wall built around my heart to protect it.  He wasn't able to talk at the moment (he was busy with work) but then he said those words  he never used to say before he hung up..."Love you honey."  And then...the ice starts to melt.  I want to keep the wall there frozen because I know he will undoubtedly have something to say that will hurt.  Then I will begin the vicious cycle that has happened so many times over.  I will determine that I need to distance myself, then I will come to the conclusion that I should just accept him (and her) because they are ACA.  Finally I decide absolutely not.  I shouldn't have to deal with this.  My conclusion today...I'm still not sure, except that our love is a paradox.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Craving What Hurts

Migraines are, to say the very least, debilitating at times.  This morning I feel another big attack approaching.  The last "big" one was just two weeks ago.  My husband started work at 5:30 p.m. last night and ended his shift at 7:00 a.m. this morning.  He came home and snowplowed the driveway (our plow guy seems to have disappeared) and then took my daughter to preschool and is going to stop at the hardware store for a new shovel.  I am sitting here in the silence waiting for medication to kick in.  Once again I am hoping that it actually prevents the migraine from taking over my body and carrying out out whatever vengeance it has on me.  All the while it is an absolutely gorgeous sunny day.  A day that I typically crave in these long winter months.  You see, I LOVE the sun.  I LOVE warmth.  I crave it.  I long for it more than I can put into words.  I always have.  I have so much and for so long that just after I finished my Master's degree I had a teaching position lined up in the beautiful Virginia Beach area.  I let that dream go at the last second to take on another dream and marry the man I could never live with out (that story is another post).  Now I sit here with dark sheets tacked over silhouette blinds.  If you are not familiar, silhouette blinds allow you to cover your windows for privacy but allow the sun to softly diffuse into your home creating soft glow of sunshine and warmth.  Do you see the irony in this?  I crave the light but it hurts me.  It aggravates my migraines.  Even if I don't have a migraine I perpetually worry that the sun is going to hurt me.  I long for the sun but I avoid it.  So for today, and if I'm lucky only today, I will sit in the dark and take whatever preventative measures I need to stop this migraine from reaching its full potential.  And for today I am going to try and not feel guilty that my husband hasn't slept in 20 hours and will take on all my responsibilities for the day.  A note to myself:  "If you don't let him and the migraine progresses it will be worse for everyone." In the meantime I am remembering why I gave up the sunny south and married this man who takes care of me through sickness and in health. :)