(1) The gym
It’s a minor thing, but I didn’t work out for two weeks. I think most people react to anxiety by eating either more or less, and I lose my appetite. It’s just a very DUHHHH boundary for myself that if I don’t eat, I don’t work out. (That also ends up making me more devoted to the gym, because I’m basically conditioning myself to view going to the gym as a reward).
Anyway, it’s not been pretty. I only lowered my load on a few things (squats and lying leg curls), but I had to do less reps for some things. I can usually do three days in a row max, but I needed a rest day after two. And, even after the one, I ended up having to take Aleve the next day. After day two, my body hurt so bad that I wondered if I was getting sick.
In other words, I didn’t meet my fitness goals for the summer. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Work starts up again on Wednesday, and I’m not ready. Truly, the main thing that’s bothering me about it is the guaranteed sleep deprivation (5 am WAAAAAAAAAAAAH) and lack of free time. I’m assuming my kid will go back to just one overnight at daddy’s per week…but even if I’m wrong about that, I’m going to need to take advantage of that weeknight to sleep. It’s likely to be just Saturday nights for me.
I haven’t sung all summer, so there’s a nice unknown that’s unlikely to magically turn out better than I hope.
On the bright side, my daughter is anxious to go back. She misses her babysitter (who’s really like a third parent, as she’s been watching her since she was 6 months old, and she also kind of spoils her), and she has the same teacher/classroom in pre-K, so the transition should be minimal for her. Probably 70% of my going-back-to-work anxiety would lie there, so it’s not a minor thing.
I know it’s not the objective truth, but sometimes it feels like we’re starting over–maybe only because he’s no longer openly angry with me. I mean, I’m doing things the way I would have if I got a do-over…but this big “thing” between us didn’t just disappear.
I saw him again Wednesday night–we stuffed our bellies with absurdly delicious yummies, and he made me giggle a lot.I wanted to kiss him so badly, but I wouldn’t dare. I’m so happy when I’m with him or talking to him. I totally caught myself thinking “waaahh, I miss M,” yesterday when he was out for a few hours (I’m mostly kidding–I was also very happy because he felt well enough to go out).
The point is that I felt very happy, and I actually admitted it. I don’t mean to be, but I’m superstitious about that.
Something came up last night that brought up the kinds of feelings that led me to implement my policy of dating other people until “official” exclusivity…only this time, the feelings are valid (as they have been every other time except for when I met M). He got a message on OkC from my former best friend–with whom I had a falling out a couple weeks into talking with him. She messaged him, and he recognized her because I, at some point, linked him to her profile while talking about my hopes that we’d reconcile. I found this out when I had woken up in the middle of the night, and I got panicky about it. (I’m so quick to have a pounding heart, but so hard to knock back out–no fair). I miss her; that’s a separate issue.
He said he’s not seeing or interested in anyone else right now, but he’d tell me if/when that changed. It’s a reminder that we’re not really anything, because he has said that he tends to date/talk to one girl at a time. I already knew that, though…it’s just that I’d managed to think less about him looking; he’s looking, and I’m not.
After the drama happened, I disabled my account and cut off anyone who might have even potentially been a date. I had stopped even reading my messages or looking for people to date, so there weren’t many ties to cut.
Now I wonder when the day will come that he tells me he likes someone else. Yes, I know the reason he’s looking elsewhere is because of my own actions, but the feeling is still the same because I’m not even interested in looking elsewhere, and I feel so much more exposed right now than I did in the beginning.
Earlier in the night, I found the audacity to tell a friend that I think we’re eventually going to end up together…and now, as these things go for me, I’m kicking myself and feeling like such an idiot for daring to be so optimistic. This is why I try to guard myself–the drop is so unpleasant.
Anyway, I’m doing it, I’m sitting with my feelings instead of looking for a distraction. Maybe he’ll still like me more anyway–that’s what I told myself before when I worried. (It worked sometimes, too, but things are different now). Or maybe I’ll continue to alternate between false hopes and waiting for the other shoe to drop until it does, and then I’ll have to move on.
I’m aware that it’s odd for me to perseverate on this when I already know that I manage just fine even with much, much larger kinds of abandonment. It’s also odd that I don’t just embrace the fact that no relationship is safe, and he’s here now, whatever that means.
Which brings me to my next topic…
(4) The search for a therapist
I stopped therapy in January. I had been seeing my therapist on Sunday mornings, but she was trying to give herself more free time by not working on Sundays. Seeing her on weeknights wasn’t feasible because of my schedule/traffic, and I was doing well enough, so she discharged me.
I’ve wanted to go back, but the scheduling with her (or ANYONE) would obviously be difficult to impossible. I’ve found 10 therapists who do, or might, take my insurance, but I haven’t made a call yet. And the thought of starting over…telling the same stories, giving my family history….I don’ wanna. I want to come in with my presenting problem and start on that.
So, what is my presenting problem? I’ve been thinking about this a lot, because I REALLY want to come in with that (as opposed to the usual family history, my past diagnoses, etc…let them come out organically). If I just go in with this story with M, I’m going to look like I’m just submissive/low confidence/victim, and what I want is not to be assuaged. I actually want to change. I think the main, HUGE, things I need to work on are: anxiety/fear, poor boundaries, and social/interpersonal problems.
I had made progress on anxiety and fear after my ex left me, but I’ve completely lost the ability to access a reminder that I’ve been through MUCH worse than anything with which I’m currently dealing. I’ve made progress on many things related to boundaries, but it’s such a huge and pervasive problem for me that I can’t even attempt to give a summary here. I’ve used dating as a crutch for my interpersonal issues, and it kind of worked; now that that’s completely gone, though, maybe I’ll actually do better.
Scheduling aside, it really shouldn’t be hard for me to find a therapist. I’m not a complicated case who needs a specialist–any decent one could take me on. But it’s very important that I find someone who is more challenging than she is supportive. I need someone for reality testing, because I know that my thinking is sometimes distorted. I’d rather work through my anger or irritation with a therapist who pushes me than I would be supported as my personal growth atrophies. Validation is extremely important to me, but even I can get that elsewhere. If I’m coming to you as an expert, because i need someone to help me change, validate me if you want, I guess…but please show me reality.
That may sound like a big “duh,” but I had a therapist in couple of years leading up to my residential treatment for anorexia…she was lovely, and she specialized in victims of sexual abuse, sex workers, and the like. That modality makes sense–and, in fact, a lot of people need to have a LOT of validation, even if it’s passive acceptance of delusions, as a part of engagement. I understand that–getting started is tricky–but it didn’t work for me. I actually asked her to challenge me more, and she said, “that’s not really what I do. I’m more of a supportive therapist.” Was she a bad therapist? Not at all. She just wasn’t a good match for me.
I saw my nurse practitioner today, and she recommended a therapist who’s not too far from me. She and her husband do individual therapy, and they also do marriage therapy together. I think that’s a great model. I poked around, and she’s director of an art therapy of a college in the area. (Art therapy was my favorite part of treatment at Renfrew, so that alone is enough to feel at least a little bit of an intuitive connection to her). She also does DBT–something that I’d somehow managed to “miss” in my eating disorder treatment, but I think it would be helpful for anxiety.
I’m having trouble believing that I can really get rid of this anxiety problem, and I’m stubborn about going on daily medication for it. I know that depression can be treated–I’ve been depressed, and I’m not anymore. Depression always felt like something external that was imposed on me, so it could be separated and dissolve. Anxiety is very different, much more distressing to me, and it feels like it’s just my personality. I asked my NP to tell me honestly if anxiety is treatable, or if it’s just managed…she said it absolutely can be treated, but there does tend to be leftovers that have to be managed. That’s good enough to stop me from throwing up my hands and giving up on getting back into therapy.