This post is carried on from My Story: Stress – How to find the hidden anxiety (Part 1)
The sessions were varied, there were days when I felt there was no progress, and then some days I felt an overwhelming sense of breakthrough and achievement that I got it! I understood! Every Tuesday I would walk out of my sessions, and get the bus back, engulfed in heightened emotions and wishing for a recording of what had just happened. If you haven’t been to therapy before, one of the things sometimes happens is that you are so involved in the session that you forget half of the knowledge you learn. Frightened that something you forgot was going to be essential for you moving forward. This happened a lot. I was petrified I wasn’t doing myself justice, and the people around me who were having to ‘put up’ with all my anxiety and stress. I felt bad for them.
Like me, if you have ridiculously amazing friends and an incredibly supportive family, they are quick to tell you that you aren’t annoying them and that I just need to focus on me. How nice is THAT?! But as many times as I heard it off all of them. It still hung there clinging to my guilt in the back of my mind. Larry has a lot to answer for. His slippery lizard voice telling me that I will never be good enough and that it is always my fault. Larry actively encouraged self blame. Whenever I wanted to attempt to sit up and try something that required courage or bravery. He was there, in the back of my mind whispering ‘its never going to work’, ‘whats the point?’, ‘you aren’t worth it’, ‘you know it is your fault so just take it and accept the blame’.
Larry was the daily battle. He was there as soon as I woke up, letting me know the world was against me and this life isn’t what I had dreamt it would be. Sucking me into his world of self punishment, doubt and blame. I remember incidents where a passing comment would be made and I would take it as the entire world was my fault. The comment wouldn’t have to be negative, it would just have to be enough for Larry to tip it over the edge into guilt and blame. It was like a fog would cover me and I just couldn’t see past the fact that whatever it was, it WAS my fault, and I am the one to blame. Larry’s repertoire was vast – lots of crying, feeling horrible, empty, even feeling like a nasty person at times. This couldn’t go on… could it?! Somedays I was just accepting that work, life, love and a future were not going to be what I wanted them to be and I just had to give up on my dreams.
I don’t know if you have ever been there, but it is dark, very dark. Giving up on yourself and your dreams, hopes and ambitions is devastating. Getting whipped up in this unwinding realisation that life just is going to be miserable for you and that is just that. Even with the most amazing support network the outlook was bleak.
I couldn’t tell you when or how, but at some point on one day a glimmer of bravery triggered my thought process. Maybe I could tackle this? Maybe this is something I could deal with? Nooooo. Maybe I am wrong. Surely not. No, maybe I actually could come out the other side. My first battle with Larry commenced.
The key weapon I had in my arsenal was a tiny little sword of bravery. It wasn’t big, but it didn’t need to be, it still caused damage to Larry’s plan. I realised that I didn’t need to win the war, I just needed to tackle the battle at hand. Larry’s strategy was intimate and detailed, so I needed to focus on the now. On the present. Day by day this started becoming more apparent. The world wasn’t going to end, I just needed to step one step further than I did the day before. That was it. That was all I needed to do. When I heard Larry’s slippery anxiety-fuelled voice, instead of fighting him and defending myself. I just learned to ignore him. Ignore the temptation and fall into his deep dark anxiety pit.
I still hear him now, but I know it is him, and I have to manage him rather than delete him. Life is still scary. If anyone tells you it isn’t. They are lying. It is. But what they probably have is a natural control over their Larry without even knowing it. The rest of us have to deal with our Larry’s. The key thing is accept that Larry serves a purpose. He is there for you, to save you, to give you the inner survival lizard that you need in some ways. But in your day to day life? Ignore him. Accept he is there, you will be able to hear him, but either silently in your head or verbally out loud, tell him… in slightly adapted words of Bianca del Rio ( a fabulous drag queen you all have to go watch) ….
“Not today Larry, not today”