DAY 258 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Blog/ MA warning – There is always something to be grateful for.

This morning I again pondered my anxiety and how my life is different now. I was angry at myself for going back to the same space. I even considered quitting the meditation because I did not want a repeat of yesterday. I felt like a little kid saying I was going to take my marbles and leave because I didn’t get what I wanted. Not everyone would get that reference. What the f*%K! Why can’t I control my meditations?

Anyway, I did decide to stay and tried to examine times and ways I attempted to rid myself of anxiety. I must admit I was a slow learner. The first time I was aware of an actual process of being less anxious was when I was 36.  I distinctly remember driving to work one day, post divorce, thinking “Well I’ll never have to worry about dealing with his sorry ass again.” At the time I smiled and felt a huge weight fall off my shoulder. My nerves were so tight, any relief was welcome. The relief was short lived as we still had two teen daughters.

I did realize that I finally grew some balls because I did not take his shit anymore. He would call or come over and demand X, Y, or Z from me and I just politely told him no. When that didn’t work and he started stalking me, sending love letters and cards, and calling me all hours of the night I finally told him I would get a “friend” to beat the crap out of him if he didn’t stop. I laughed until I cried at that memory. It felt good to release it. I gave myself an emotional pat on the back for remembering my standing up for myself for what seemed like the first time. 

I still lived in the land of anxiety and what if? I think I was more aware that I might not, and I do mean might not, need to stay there forever. From: will there be dinner tonight? –  to when is my mother coming home tonight? – to who is she married to now? – to how do I please my teachers? –  to is anyone my friend? –  to what will happen next at home?-  to whatever shit my emotions were dealing with, I was living in the land of anxiety. As the tears flowed I told my inner kid, you are OK , you had reasons.  I was in survival mode most of the time. Who the f*#k wouldn’t be in survival mode?

I distinctly remember wanting to have natural childbirths for my babies. I knew it was better for them as opposed to all the drugs I read about. I also knew I did not want to be out of control at this important time. Being out of control was my kryptonite. I could not let that happen. Flashback to stepdad #1. My mother explained to me, at four, that the reason he was violent was because he could not control himself when under the influence. Holy shit, any connections to my little girl? Well duh.

At different times in my life instead of looking for the catastrophic expectations, I started asking myself, “What is the reasonable outcome?”  What a novel idea. Do people actually do that? LOL I can’t say there was one specific incident that turned my life of anxiety around. I do know that many awful things have happened in this lifetime of mine. I do know many of them sucked. I also know I have been granted a  bounty of good memories. 

I am a prolific reader of self help books. Trying to find answers to the why this and why not that. Each has added a droplet to my golden goblet. I am at a place now where I know there is enough to sustain me, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I yearn for more knowledge and more ways to find and accept joy. I have had some things to deal with that I would not wish on worst enemy, and I survived.

I can honestly say that as I start to feel anxious I do my best to look at the anxiety and see where its level should be. I am so much better at analyzing the reality and lowering my stress level. It doesn’t matter how long it took to get here. All that matters is that I have more joyful, more peaceful, and less anxious days ahead.

I guess my meditation went where it needed to go. 

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P.S. After writing my blog I checked my email. This is what was delivered from Daily OM:
No more “supposed to’s,” OK, Lauren
You’re not supposed to work harder, look better, sleep less, sell more, run faster, talk slower, be happier, stay longer, leave earlier, cook, clean, negotiate, settle, start, stop, move, try, win, shake, rattle or roll. 
Other people made all that up. 
I love you the way you are,
   The Universe

Day 257 – LSS Attitude of Gratitude – Blog/Anxiety – There is always something to be grateful for.

My meditation today was a strange continuum of thoughts about anxiety in my life. I don’t doubt that if someone knew what went on in my mind in younger days that I would have been clinically diagnosed with GAD. So glad that I don’t have that label attached to me. My thoughts traveled through all the things that caused me anxiety. 

For as long as I can remember, worry was my middle name. I would worry to excess and saw danger and fear everywhere. My constant battle was to want to be in control at all times. As I reviewed life experiences I could see why I felt the way I did.

My childhood was sure not a safe place. While I felt much safer at school, I still had great anxiety there also. I feared if I did something that made my teachers angry then they would disappear. My anxiety was boundless. I could take a simple thing like an invitation to visit a friend and get so anxious that I would have a mouth full of sores. I didn’t sleep and my nerves were a wreck.

I remember one rare time I once went to a doctor in my youth for this.  The doctor told my mother that instead of ulcers in my stomach my stress and worry were causing mouth ulcers. I was given some ointment and sent on my way. There was no looking for a solution to the root problem.

As a young married woman and mom, my anxiety escalated. I worried over everything as a parent. I worried about doctor appointments for my babies from the minute I made the phone call until after the visit. A vivid memory came up about an outing my spouse and I were supposed to go on with another couple and all our kids. I called every day for two weeks with questions and concerns. Finally the day before we were to go they cancelled. I knew it was because of my excessive fears. 

As my children got older and I returned to college my fears and anxieties escalated to new heights.  I remember once going to the medical clinic on campus with over 20 canker sores. I couldn’t eat or speak without pain. I had many courses of steroids to help with the outbreaks previously. The doctor asked how many units I was taking (21) and what grades I was getting (All A). When I told her my answers she said she would not treat me because if I just got lower grades my canker sores would go away. Not a great response from the medical profession.

While I always connected my worries and anxiety to my physical mouth symptoms I did not understand all the other ways I was being affected. I had all the typical symptoms of anxiety.

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Being irritable
  • Having muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

As I have aged I have become more and more aware of unnecessary anxiety. My last few years teaching I finally realized I did not need to panic or stress about situations when I knew I was in the right.  I learned to laugh at all the years and years I would panic about situations that never happened. As a master of catastrophic expectations I would worry  things that never could happen. 

My brain ruminated on many different personal examples of excessive anxiety. My revelation was that my anxiety was caused by fear, anger, lack of control, lack of confidence, and stress. So next I pondered why did I take it to the nth degree as opposed to other “normal” people.

My final thoughts were that it doesn’t matter. That was my past. Now I try to decide how to look at my anxiety in a different manner. First I try to assess if there is really something to be anxious about. Then I work on a plan to reduce my anxiety. Some anxieties are unique to me. Some are irrational. Some can be dissipated with intent. I am truly grateful for my ability to reduce anxiety in my life. 

anxiety

Forest Bathing – Remedy for Stress