Day 41: Anxiety: Terrorist of the Heart

I have always been a little on the anxious spectrum (read: A LOT of anxiety). I have been accused of wanting things to be perfect more than once. I have stressed over really insignificant things. I had a panic attack or two in undergrad over certain courses. It’s fascinating though that I never had that issue in vet school. Maybe I matured, or maybe I was just so busy running down a metaphorical, muddy, wet, hill, trying to keep my feet under me, that I didn’t have the space for the anxiety.

I have been able to let go of so much over the last year and my life has been a lot better for it. I have days now where I am happy and full of a feeling of love and that never used to happen. It is truly a new and wonderful experience for me. One of those happy days hasn’t shown up in a while though. The last few weeks, shit, since the first part of December really, has been filled with hit after hit. I am used to dealing with pain in my life and I am used to moving on past it. I do this, most of the time, by starting over in a new location, a new job, a new life. Nothing has ever really changed though. Each time I have moved I have eventually been confronted with the same realities. I started to evaluate this a few months ago and I have realized that I need to change the way that I confront life or these patterns will keep repeating themselves. So I decided to stop running from things and start having the hard conversations and seeing if I could cultivate the relationships that I wanted to – including the one I have with myself.

I have been really REALLY struggling with my job situation the last few weeks. I have been thrown under the bus, threatened, lied about and had my concerns completely ignored. I have had to sit in HR meetings and hear that my feelings weren’t valid and that it would take 3-4 more indiscretions at the hand of this other person before they would actually interject. I have presented management with written proof of lies and still nothing was done, threats were not taken seriously and there were no suggestions made for solutions. The manager in question was offered a promotion and took it. Thankfully, my new manager sees a lot more than the old and is taking a firm line on nasty behavior and while I am grateful for that, I still go to work everyday completely dreading it.

My bouts with anxiety have usually been very small and short lived, but with a lot of little insults and it has taken a toll on my physical body, one which I have been really focused on adjusting and healing from. This current work situation though is causing all of these things to come up that I thought were handled, so clearly I need more work in that area. My health is suffering too at this point and I am at a place where all I want to do is hibernate from the world.

I have a REALLY hard time when there are outstanding issues with other people. I usually feel so much better once I have said my piece and so has the other person and we are able to move forward in a constructive manner. This guy though, he completely lies. Blatant, bold, lies. And I cannot move forward with a person like that. I cannot close this loop. There is almost this forced stagnation taking place that is causing a whole boat load of anxiety. Quite frankly I don’t know what to do about it. And in the interest of not running I am trying to stay and work through it. I am placing boundaries, being an adult when we have to communicate and trying to keep my head down and do my work. My new manager has asked me not to leave yet as she is trying to change things as I am honoring that. I find myself, however, once again working with this guy this weekend, just the two of us and each text or ring of my phone is causing this volatile reaction through my body.

I wish I could put into words what anxiety feels like for me. It is this deep sense of desolation, a gripping of my heart and an actual pain in my chest. It is a heavy weight like a blanket that covers me and I just cannot seem to get my heart engaged in anything. It is a buzzing stiffness in my nervous system that is almost palpable. It is almost like all of my other systems have gone quiet, until it is safe to come out again, including my heart. In these moments I literally battle myself because the point in staying and fighting for life is to come at and be able to keep your heart open in the face of adversity and I feel like I am wearing myself out trying to do just that. It is bleeding over into other areas of my life as well. I am also finding myself confused about when is appropriate to throw in the towel and move on versus what is me just wanting to run, and I feel next to nothing in my heart right now to even help make that decision.

I heard this quote yesterday from Brene Brown, she said something along the lines of “pain that is not transformed is transferred.” I am seeing this happen so clearly with my situation. From a health standpoint the anxiety is showing up as back and shoulder pain, stomach issues and debilitating fatigue. From a relationship standpoint I am catching myself mentally taking my shit out on others. I did have a pretty big win for me though earlier this week, when I actually told someone what I was feeling and that it wasn’t a good time to chat and they honored that and I ended up having a productive conversation with this person at a later time about it.

I know I need to move this. I need to broaden my perspective to see solutions that I cannot right now. I know I need to calm my nervous system and remember to breathe when I am confronted with this person. I need to put this energy into creating something, and I am doing that right now. I also know I need to have some patience and compassion for myself and some appreciation for the fact that I am doing the work and making progress, even if it’s hard to see.

I got out of my funk for a while today and made some space between me and this anxiety. I had to go on a call earlier and when the text came through I just started bawling. No part of me wanted to go. I wanted to sit in my own shit and sulk and cry and snuggle with my dogs and find all of the things that are wrong with my job and with this situation at work. I wanted to lament the fact that I was alone and getting through the pain of an already bruised heart and I wanted to be stuck, because it is where I have lived for so long there is some comfort there. I still battle with myself to change things. Not because I have a hard time doing it, but because sometimes I don’t know if I really want to. Then I wonder, what kind of person wants to stay in a pile of shit. I will tell you… one who believes they aren’t worth more. Even though I know that isn’t true, I cannot come up with another explanation as to why I choose to live my life in that way sometimes. I think in some ways it is an emotional addiction. It plays to the victim stories and fear that pervaded my childhood.

Every shift, every action, every word, every thought…. one has to be diligent in the area of transformation. I think for some people it is easier. They seem to get these concepts and actually FEEL them and make shifts and have epiphanies and pops and their world changes very rapidly. I am not like that. I get all of the concepts and in many ways have a wisdom about them that surpasses a lot of other folks in this space, but the shift from thinking to feeling has been and continues to be the slowest part for me. I asked myself this today, don’t you WANT to feel happy? And the answer in that moment truly was, I don’t know. And there is the ugly truth. I don’t know sometimes.

What’s that old fable about each of us having two wolves inside us and which one are we going to feed…. I feed both… and I still haven’t breached that 51% that feeds the lighter one. Some days I find humor and joy and love. Some days the anxiety wins. Some days I reach neutrality like I did today. I found some space between me and my emotions and I let them be but didn’t interact with them, didn’t let them devour me. Did I have a happy day? Hell, no. But I did claw my way out from misery and despair and that, that is progress. In doing so a little bit of energy came back, a little bit of motivation came back and my life got a little bit lighter. From that space I can start to use the other tools. I can start to focus on feeling lighter. I can shift my energy to what I am gaining from this situation knowing that every conflict or problem provides positives if you are just able to look for them and I can evaluate how this is helping me with my future goals. In doing so I feed that white wolf just a little bit more. ❤ ❤

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

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