Yesterday in therapy Z and I were yet again discussing my increased anxiety this fall. He asked what I thought helped when I was working at Whole Foods because my anxiety disappeared. First I told him that my anxiety most certainly didn’t disappear. I was better than I’ve been in my adult life, but every single time I had to travel to regional for training or meetings (and it was pretty frequent) I desperately tried to get out of it. I also took a terrifying amount of Imodium during that period and a lot of Klonopin as well. He immediately got it. The anxiety wasn’t as crippling, but it was still there trying to take over. Still, I was in pretty good shape. The structure of the job is what helped. That and I seemed to be ok at it. At least I got promoted and it made me feel good. I also worked for some people I really respected and that made me want to produce for them.
It’s why going back to school feels like such a good idea. If I have structure I’m a hard worker. I’m a people pleaser who desperately wants to be perceived as intelligent. If I’m in your class I’m going to do the readings, I’m going to participate in discussion, I’m going to torture myself over the papers. The class this fall was a terrific start. But when I start to reengage the anxiety always increases. That coupled with the nonstop nature of this parenting business, the lack of backup we have here so far from family, Z’s more than full time work life, and I’m really near the edge.
Z told me I need to take more breaks, he said I should get a hotel room this week. Just me. Alone and able to sleep an uninterrupted 8 or even 10 hours. On top of that there are two movies I really want to see and he told me to just go and do it. He’d be with the boys. I just sat there paralyzed, unable to accept. He asked why I brush him off when he offeres to give me a break.
I do. He offeres all the time, sincere offers. And I always have an excuse for why it won’t work. Let me tell you what, I’m not a martyr. I’m a selfish jackass. So what the hell is going on? It sort of hit me when he asked last night. I was terrified to spend the night alone in a hotel. Because what if I fuck it up? It’s my one chance to decompress, what if I can’t fall asleep? Or have an anxiety attack? Or have a stomach bug? What if there is a hotel fire and I get zero rest?
And more importantly what if I get home the next morning and I’m just as overwhelmed and angry and anxious? What if I’ve used up my time away and it does no good? Z and our shrink were awesome. They told me I’d absolutely be just as overwhelmed. But we needed to start somewhere. It felt like a huge weight was lifted off of me. I might go to a hotel this week, I might not. Either way I have permission to still be a basket case after I get some rest. There is no expectation that a night a hotel is going to cure me. And for the record, I’m not looking for that permission from Z or my shrink (OK, a little from my shrink-I am a people pleaser), I need it from myself.