Catching myself

So this morning I catch myself.

Within two seconds of waking up, I’d had a sinking feeling and thought ‘oh no’

That feeling and thought started dragging me down immediately, before pushing back the duvet even, started up feelings of resentment and frustration, resistance and stubbornness. A sense that I want to push back against whatever I have to do today – in this case, go to work and run some staff training – but with no real foundation under it.
Not really.
My job is fine, I enjoy it and there’s nothing going on there currently that would cause anxiety or cause myself to not want to be there. There has been some work stuff in recent months and there may be some kind of emotional hangover from that, but here, today, there is no reason that going to work should make me feel like this.

Catching myself, I questioned the feeling, looked at the day ahead and decided the feeling had no place in the reality of today.
That doesn’t make it go away, but it makes it a bit easier to ignore it, in order to get through a staff training session for example. There are times when the best thing to do is to bracket away your feelings in order to get on with a task.
Plus, for me, this gives me a sense of pride as for most of my life, my feelings have run roughshod over me, screaming too loudly and flashing too brightly for me to be able to focus on anything else, I treated myself harshly over what I perceived as my weakness and failure and lack of self-control, so to be able to bracket them away for periods of time now in order to focus on being at work or other stuff reinforces my (still new, but gaining strength all the time) image of myself as a Strong Coper of Life’s Stuff.
There’s got to be a better phrase/acronym than SCoLS for that…

The feeling is there though and so it deserves respect and space and gentle investigation… Bracketing away feelings only works when the feelings know you’ll come back later when you have time and a safe space to attend to them.
Like making a promise to a child.
If you’ve broken promises in the past (no matter how insignificant they seemed to you at the time), then you won’t be trusted in the future. So if you’ve promised youself that you’ll reward yourself, get back to this weird feeling, look at why you dislike small dogs, whatever it may be, and you haven’t… well, that part of yourself that you made the promise to will trust you less than before, and each time this happens it has an effect.
You need to build up trust with yourself, so start small, promise yourself things that you know you can deliver on and do it! No matter how silly or small, it’s the concept here that’s the important thing.

Make yourself a promise right now and keep it. Doesn’t matter what the promise is, just matters that you’ll keep it.

Your feelings are like a small child. They have logic and consistency, just not one that’s always apparent to us without a fair amount of searching.
I often think of the insides of my head as a toddler. It helps. It’s the same part of my brain pretty much that I label as anxiety brain, it’s just anxiety is an amorphous thing to try and open up a dialogue with, so when I’m looking to actually understand and talk with that part of myself, it helps to label it as a toddler.

In writing this I’ve just realised that when I’m labelling it Anxiety Brain, then I’ve decided it has no right to exist at all (hopefully I decide this after some investigation!) and I’m just ignoring it until it goes away! Perhaps there’s some link to having to just wait out a toddler tantrum? I’m not a mother, so only going off on a metaphor here!

Anyway, when I see that part of myself as a Toddler, then I don’t expect too much from that part of myself, I treat it with love and respect and understand that I’m the Adult here and need to look after the toddler regardless of how the toddler might say otherwise! It’s easier to be gentle with myself when I think this way, and one thing I’ve learned from twenty years of anxiety issues is that anything other than gentle doesn’t work! Certainly not coming from your own self.

“Hello feeling, what’s this all about then? Where have you come from and why are you here and what do you want?”

And if you ask yourself things like that too, don’t think you know the answers! Be ready to be surprised, be open to finding out it connects back to years ago, or that conversation yesterday or that slow buildup of stuff where one thing is petty but now there’s many things and a heavy weight. If you’re new to this, it gets easier to tell where your truth is and when you’re kidding yourself, but the key is to be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself as you’d treat your bestest most beloved person who’s going through stuff and needs an understanding friend.
Be your own understanding friend.

For me today, I’ve learnt this feeling, below its stubbornness and resentment and ‘fuck off I can’t be arsed’ness, is loneliness. Fairly pure and simple. I miss my husband who’s away working and has been very busy now for a few months. But not just alone in the flat loneliness, a connection loneliness, even when we have been together we’ve rarely connected like I now know I needed to. Not a blame thing, just a thing, both of us wrapped up in our worlds of work and stuff, both of us busy with things that felt more important at the time.

Now I realise I need that and he’s technically not even in England, but just beyond in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.
And of course this adds to the general weight of frustration and helplessness that built up in me since the end of may. Today I miss him so much it almost feels like I’m grieving.

It’s also a symptom of the mindset that makes me push everyone away and not open up when I’m slipping like this. I don’t like the inside of my head at these times, so that makes it even more difficult to open up and share it.

“Here, come share this thing I really dislike!” When is that ever an appealing invitation either to receive or to offer?

Being a hardcore introvert, my first instinct is very rarely to reach out and meet up with someone. When I’m struggling and slipping, that hermit tendancy is even more pronounced. Even when I’ve been telling myself for the past couple of weeks that I need to see more people while Hubby is away, I’ve done the bare minimum with people who understand my concept of “Anti-social socialising”
Even with Hubby and I promising each other to keep up the contact during the dreaded month of August when he’s always away working the entire month, it easily slips from both of us.

I tell myself I’m fine, I like my own company, I find it restful not having to think about others, being able to do whatever I want, watch my own rubbish on the telly, eat cheesecake for dinner if I wish, and all that is true… but even if it goes against my first instinct, I need to remember to reach out to people more often than I think I want to.
I suspect this won’t be an easy lesson to learn.
But as I want to tell everyone else who lives with anxiety, be gentle, keep aware, and listen to yourself. There are always more onion layers to peel back, more petals to unfold and more connections to discover. It’s a lifelong journey into how we work and why we are what we are and editing our operating manual 🙂

What’s the point of this post?
I guess that we are able to catch ourselves. If you are prone to immediate thoughts that colour your whole day, that you can catch them and that may alter how your day goes.
I’ve still been feeling fairly crap as I go through today, but finding moments to reflect and write this on my phone has helped me through without embarrasing myself in the work place. Has allowed me to text my Hubby and make sure we skype chat later. Has got me to the place where I’m okay that I’m not okay.
And that’s better than nothing…

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