Devo's Blog

Thursday, June 1, 2006

On the job therapy

I forgot that group was moved from Tuesday to Thursday this week, so I wasn't able to attend since I was scheduled to work at the Crags and there wasn't anyone to swap schedules with me. I was bummed - had several things I wanted to discuss. So wouldn't you know it, who else but Princess P walked in during my shift. I'd been working on my anxiety this past week and it seemed better this time around. She didn't greet me as she entered and I didn't say anything myself - don't plan to either unless she tries to initiate a conversation. I think it highly unlikely - it's not her nature - but she's unpredictable and so I've prepared the following script in case the situation ever arises:
"I'm afraid of you and when I'm around you I don't know how to handle myself."
It's an honest and true statement and it's better to play the low guy on the totem pole when dealing with her - trying to take the high ground only gets her gander - I learned that the hard way. It's difficult though - I'm still angry at her senseless behavior. Part of me still wants to shame her, to make her feel as shitty as I did. But that's my anger and resentment speaking and she never was able to listen to my feelings anyhow. What I need to concentrate on is counteracting my flee response. That's what my anxiety is - the desire to flee. But it's an addictive behavior: fleeing calms my anxiety and so fleeing becomes the automatic response to it. Not exactly a healthy way to live. So a couple times a day I've tried to take time out to do some "aversion therapy" - I vizualize being around her and dealing with it. If that doesn't work then my only alternative would be to stop working at the Crags, and if that didn't work, maybe leaving town. I don't really want to do that right now, so I do my exercises.

It's been helpful to realize that my anxiety is a natural response - a post-traumatic stress reaction to the trauma I endured. I don't feel so much like a failure or an emotional weakling then. I went through hell and it's been hell rising out of it - that's the reality I'm dealing with.

So I spent some time reading blog posts that reminded me of my crazy marriage and how bad I felt; listening to that Pearl Jam song a couple times ("I seen the home inside your head,... All locked doors and unmade beds. Open sores unattended..."); and concentrating on helping folks in the shop. When she left - without a word, never looking at me - I stretched those anxiety muscles and intentionally watched her walk away, just concentrating on how it made me feel to be around her. Overall I think it went well - I certainly felt better than before. Time will tell.

If I knew what I was so anxious about, I wouldn't be so anxious.
- Mignon McLaughlin

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