I have ’em.
Whether I’m taking a nap or running to a new task when I was in the middle of a different one, I have a hard time finishing some of my projects, and when things become hard, I tend to shut them out. I am a perfectionist, and I obsess about being perfect. When being perfect becomes ridiculous, I retreat into a little cocoon.
I tend to obsess over one thing: This last week it’s been cleaning out the office. Don’t get me wrong; it needed to happen. But it had been a growing issue over the last 6 years and I only now am working with the process.
Adding to this I have a great fear of abandonment and loss. I lost my mom at the age of 13, and my Dad died of cancer when I was 27. I lived an unsure life growing up, of having things and then not having things. Of moving, acquiring new normals, and then loss. And now three of my four kids are going to summer camp this weekend as camp counselors. And it’s really hard for me. It’s irrational. And so, instead of coming up with new recipes for this site, I’m steeped in sorting socks and paper clips. Why? Because it’s avoidance. It buries the feelings deep down that I am going to almost be alone this summer.
I am working with perceived failures. I’ve been begrudgingly donating old projects I know I never will even begin. Those beautiful needlepoint pillows I found on ebay that remind me of my mom (what?!). I have the memories of my mom. Why did I think I needed needlepoint pillows? Donating those will be hard, because I am coping with more than one issue: 1. I feel I am giving my mother away; 2. I am feeling like a failure for buying something I might never complete and might end up donating; 3. I assign my self worth to a dream of completing needlepoint pillows that I might just seriously have to let go. And none of those things makes me a failure; it’s the crazy anxiety setting in that makes me think those things.
About two weeks ago I broke down in the middle of a parking lot sobbing. Just crazy, all out crying. Why? Because my husband took me to a busy store with people everywhere and I felt out of control and stressed by the number of people everywhere. And I was mad at him for putting me into that situation. That is not normal. All of the stressors, and of being so in control of my environment is unraveling, just a little bit at a time. And as more amazing opportunities come my way, I’m not sure how I’m going to cope.
I seek to embrace non-change, even when it is optimal. It is my security blanket. I try not to leave the house. I plant myself firmly in trying to empty my mind of anxious thoughts and situations instead of trying to conquer my concerns one at a time. I push away the things that I love when I’m worried I’m either going to mess it up or lose that thing or person.
What I’m thankful for? Friends and family who are patient, and you who I am telling this to. You don’t even know who I am. I tend not to say much about me. Sure, I’m quick with an anecdote or a joke, but I really need to let you in a little bit more, not to see baggage but to understand that this summer I am going to be working on these issues, so recipes have been slower in coming to the site.
I’ve been a “shut up and cook” mode for awhile, but then I realize, maybe you have anxiety, too. Maybe you’re obsessed with perfection and can’t stop. Maybe you know you’re colossally unhappy but you don’t know why. Maybe you sabotage yourself because you fear change. All of this is normal. It’s when you decide to take the next step that things will become better. But first they have to become hard.
I have to ask myself, “what’s the worst thing that will happen if my kids leave for camp?” Am I really going to be alone and unloved? Seriously? How weird is that? Am I fearing their lack of presence in the house? OK, now that begins to make a little more sense. I mean, when someone is gone, there is a mourning period, a sense of physical lack of presence. It’s space that is not being taken up with someone who you love. Still, there are ways to use that time. I need to use mine to finish writing two books, begin work on more, continue to improve my photography skills, and stop avoiding feeling discomfort or pain or sadness.
Those feelings are a part of life, and they help us to experience joy and happiness and contentment. Maybe I’ve just settled for existing for so long, I kind of forgot how to live, so beginning this week, I’ve been living, little steps at a time. It won’t be easy (I’ve allowed myself to be in this place for years), but I am dedicating myself to the following:
1. I am going to continue to part with things that I gave unreal expectations and emotions to.
2. I am going to begin a dedicated movement program. I am going to move more, whether it’s being imperfect with walking, or mopping, or even digging holes in the lawn and filling them again.
3. I am going to be content with imperfect eating so long as I continue moving in the right direction.
4. I am going to use my time more wisely. Rather than engaging in avoidance (watching tv, playing online word games and napping) I am going to make a list of tasks to complete each day and then feel good about them as they are completed.
5. I will take solace in little things and stop waiting for the bigger, less attainable things to make me happy.
6. I will look for solutions that work to the clutter issues in my house through patience, kindness and understanding that we’re all working together, and no one wants to be unhappy.
7. I will continue to be real with you about my struggles and issues, but only if you find it helps and you’re not finding it’s causing you anxiety and regression.I mean, I could just “shut up and cook,” but that’s avoidance, too.
What do you say? Are you in this with me? Should we try together to pinpoint what’s holding us back and strive to be fabulous? I can truly say that this hasn’t been easy, but I feel so much better with every little milestone. Today, as an example, when I wanted to stop cleaning the kitchen because I just didn’t want to anymore, I said, “What’s putting away five more things?” Those five things eventually led to five more. And then five more. And before I knew it, clean kitchen. Like I said, small milestones. Not perfect, but worth every moment of non-avoidance.
I actually teared up a little bit writing this, so I hope you don’t think, “Oh my God. Seriously. I came here for mozzarella sticks breaded in pork rinds and ended up with a discussion about camp counselors and socks. It’s like Bravo TV sans the fake chi chis.” I am so not going to turn into Testimonial Trisha–trust me. I just feel like by using Facebook and then starting the new forum, I’m further pushing myself away when I need to be present in the moment.
So this is me. Present, accounted for, and ready for fabulousness! Who’s with me?