Ugh!!! So Tuesday's therapy session set me off a little. Yes, it has taken me two days to even get to the point where I can blog about it. It started off with the construction in the parking lot. I couldn't park where I normally do, and there was only one space available. The problem was that the cars parked on either side of the empty space were hugging the line. Once I finally got squeezed into the skinny strip of asphalt available, I had a new problem. I could barely get out of the car! UGH!!! Don't people know you're supposed to park in the middle of the space??? Come on people! Show some courtesy!
Once I finally made it inside, less than five minutes before my scheduled time, the waiting room was crowded. There was a college student near the door (blowing his nose for five minutes straight) and a flock of other people spread around the room. I had to wait in line behind a woman who must have thought she had all the time in the world, just so I could sign in. I finally took a seat as far away from everyone as possible (without being near the bathroom). Unfortunately, this was right by the reception desk, at which the woman with the temporal issues was still standing. So, of course, my body automatically leans toward the right and the other empty seats. But wait...this can't be the end of the ordeal. In walks a snotty-nosed, hyperactive little boy who immediately leaps into the chairs next to me. HELLO!!! On top of all this, my therapist was running late....fifteen minutes late to be exact.
By the time I finally got back to my therapist's office, my head was spinning, my pulse was racing, and I was ready to throw up and run away screaming all at the same time. Just thinking about it now has my pulse rising. Whew.....Breathe....Okay.....
So, I finally start my session...fifteen minutes late....and my therapist asks me how I've been doing and what I want to talk about. The problem is, I can't think straight, because my mind is still out in the waiting room. So, I tell her that. Which sets off a whole, "Why didn't you ask to wait in the back?" thing. Yes, I get that plenty of people wait in the back. Yes, I get that it is an accepted thing for them. Yes, I get that it is more than okay with the staff, that they even expect it. Still, it's not acceptable for me. I try to explain this to Rachel, but I'm not sure if she gets it. Yes, the waiting room sent my anxiety sky high, but for me, waiting in the back (which I've never done) sets of an entirely different set of worries and anxieties as well as a feeling of failure and "why can't I just suck it up and wait in the waiting room like a "normal" person?".
Rachel tries to explain that waiting in the back is normal, accepted, and even expected and that removing myself from a situation that makes my anxiety flare is not failure, but a positive step. Cognitively, I get that, but emotionally, I'm not there. The entire idea of waiting in the back raises my anxiety even more than just waiting it out. Why in the world is something so simple so difficult???!!!
Anyway...this brings the entire session to the good old conversation that I feel I've had a thousand times within the last few months...putting myself and my needs first. I just can't seem to get this. Rachel and I have been over this time and again. We've talked about voicing my needs and setting boundaries, etc. I get the need. I just can't seem to do it.
It is so complicated. I can't seem to reconcile the idea that putting some focus on my need is not the same as being selfish. We're always taught to share, to eat what you are served, to give to others who are less fortunate, to be a good sport, to be there for your friends and family when they need you, etc. Not doing so is equivalent to being selfish. If this is true, then how is it not selfish when I say, "No, I can't babysit my niece and nephew this weekend" and do so for no other reason than I simply don't want to, that babysitting them drives up my anxiety until I am physically ill? How is it not selfish to say, "No, I understand that you really want chili for dinner tonight, but I don't. Let's have something else"? To me, being unselfish means giving others what they want and need and making them happy. Taking away what they want simply because I don't would then make me selfish.
I'm sure this is all just some warped idea my brain has conjured up. I just can't find my way out of it's mess right now. Rachel asked a question. Do I give in because it's easier, or do I give in because I don't think I deserve to be happy and have what I want as much as others deserve to be happy and have what they want? My blunt, truthful answer??? Both. Yes, it is easier to give in, especially with family. My family knows how to bully and manipulate to get what they want. When they do so, they prey on things that make me feel worse about myself. Of course, I want to avoid this. If the purpose of "Saying No" and setting boundaries is to avoid things that make me anxious and to make myself happy, then how is submitting to their bullying and manipulation helping??? It definitely doesn't help me avoid things that make me feel worse.
I know that this is more of my mind's messed up thought process. I can't keep everyone happy, and I can't keep everyone safe. It's not possible. I don't have that kind of control over the world. Still, I can't wrap my mind around the thought of not doing everything possible. I can't wrap my mind around the fact that my saying, "No, I can't go shopping today. I know it's better for you, but I'm just not in a place, mentally, to do it. Let's go tomorrow instead..." isn't going to hurt someone's feelings and make them upset at me, or if it does, then that's their problem, not mine. That getting upset over something as little as that is their problem to deal with and doesn't reflect on me. That they are adults who can deal with it themselves and make their own decisions. That they'll either get over it and move on, or they won't, and that if they can't respect my needs, then maybe it's better I'm not around them.
All of this has made this week's "homework" overwhelming. I'm supposed to focus on putting my needs first and setting boundaries. I'm supposed to work on "Just Say No". The thought of doing so makes me physically ill. I literally started crying at the thought of this as Rachel and I discussed it during my session. Rachel noticed and asked if we needed to back off. Of course, I couldn't even say no to that. I smiled, wiped away the tears, and told her I was fine, but for the last two days, I've been in a whirl of thoughts and emotions, sick to my stomach, and just an overall mess. I know this is something I need to work on. I know it will be hard. I know it will eventually be possible. I'm just not sure how I can do this, if I can do this, especially right now.