Dear Barbara (because if she’s MY pretend therapist, I LIKE the name Barbara for a therapist – it suits her),
I’m hoping that writing about the layer of neurosis that’s resting heavily on my soul will shine some light on it; and maybe even melt it away. I’m hopeful if nothing else. (30% hopeful; 95% nothing else. But I failed math so I suggest you don’t count on my stat skills.)
The big question: How am I doing since our last (pretend) visit?
Life is volatile. Some days I feel like I have everything under control. And by everything I mean my insecurities. And then there are those other days …
Today has been one of those other days.
Call me a slow learner but I’m starting to realize that I have to work very hard in order to stay one step ahead of my insecurities – ALL THE TIME. It’s annoying.
And there’s this question that begs to be answered: Why, dear Barbara, haven’t you fixed me yet???
I know. I know. Questions should not EVER have to beg to be answered because questions are never stupid and they should be treated with respect. But everyone knows that questions are NEVER treated with respect.
Barbara: I respect your questions, Mona. So tell me about these insecurities.
Well it doesn’t take much. One baseless thought about my kids getting sick and dying on me and that’s it. I spend the next hours-into-days being accosted by irrational scenes that come running out from the darkest corners of my mind to frolic. Just frolic; as though the gods have opened the doors to Mardi Gras and it’s a big street party in my head. Sounds fun but it’s really not. I hate it.
Barbara: Go on.
And then I end up playing the role of polite host – or hostESS, I suppose, to a haunted imagination. It’s exhausting.
Actually, it’s worse than exhausting. It’s paralyzing. It’s mourning a grief that has no cause and yet insists on existing. Heavy, painful, and ridiculous. Exactly what fighting a sumo wrestler must feel like.
Barbara: Tell me more. What does it feel like to be accosted by frolicking and paralyzing thoughts?
Oh the things I think about doing.
I think about quitting my job …
I think about selling my house …
I think about stealing a Westfalia and running away with my dogs …
I even think about moving in with homeless people. But even homeless people have standards. I give new meaning to pathetic.
*Head down in shame*
Barbara: No. This is good work, Mona. You’re on the brink of something.
Oh and here’s another scene that goes communistic in my brain: I imagine Greg falling under the government of my kitchen – which everyone knows HATES ME – and falling out of love with me because, as far as my insecurities go, who wants to be with someone who can’t even control her own kitchen?
Barbara: Um … Okay. Maybe we need a bathroom break.
No wait. I’m just getting started …
Barbara: No. Really. I think we need a break. *Takes a sip from her suddenly suspicious glass of clearish liquid*
The only thing my ego does not allow me to think about is breaking up with Greg. Why? Because I decided a long time ago that I would never let my kitchen control me. And by a long time ago I mean recently; in a “this year” kind of way. Which makes me wonder if I’m not with Greg for the wrong reasons. I mean, when did my handicap in the kitchen become an issue – apart from only in my head? Admittedly, there’s a side of him that I love so much it hurts. Which used to worry me until I started listening – really listening – to song lyrics while driving alone in my car. That’s when I realized that that’s what love is all about: pain. And by the way, I think that’s stupid. Although I’m probably not qualified to say that.
Then there’s this other side of him that I really don’t know at all – even though we’ve been together for 11 years. 11 YEARS. I’m neurotic but he tends to be selfish and negative and cheap and cowardly. Disappointingly, I’m realizing that these are the traits of ALL men and possibly a reason to contemplate the benefits of becoming a non-practicing lesbian. Then I realize that everyone – even my dogs – are sometimes selfish and negative and cheap and cowardly. Well, maybe they’re not cheap. Or cowardly. I don’t think dogs can be cheap or cowardly, do you?
Barbara: *Takes another gulp from her suddenly suspicious-to-me glass of clearish liquid as she doodles absent-mindlessly on her notepad*
Oh and something else that I’m working very hard at is my sense of self-worth and its placement. I worry a lot about my kids getting sick. And I worry a lot about Greg falling out of love with me. And then I remind myself that if any of this happens, it happens. So what? I’d deal with it. Meanwhile I’m spending a lot of the present entertaining scenarios that will probably never happen.
I want healthy relationships. I really do. And I work very hard at that too. But then I think that maybe my “working hard at it” (which may simply be me just “thinking” hard at it) is the very thing that’s making me feel that my relationships aren’t healthy in the first place. Some more unfoundedness for my rolodex of confused thoughts.
Are you speaking cursive? Never mind.
I feel like in order to keep my kids healthy and keep Greg in love with me I have to be perfect all the time. I have to be happy and perfect Mona ALL THE TIME.
But that’s just how I feel. In my kid’s and Greg’s defense, and as far as everyone is concerned, all is well: my kids are healthy and Greg and I love each other. I’m starting to realize that people – in general – are simple that way. And I believe with all of my logical, non-thinking side that they’re right.
Also, I think I’m empathic. What ARE you drinking anyway?
Barbara: *Placid, silent, possibly bored, stares incoherently at nothing; looking a little like this …*
I don’t want to be the kind of person who puts all of her happiness into her relationships.
So recently I’ve started accepting friend invitations and I’m thinking of joining a joggers club. Except I don’t jog. B this is to help keep me busy and to ensure that I don’t make my kids and Greg the centre of my world.
Lucky for me, no one has any idea that I think so much. Or maybe they do and have chosen to pretend not to notice. If that’s the case, they may be wiser than I give them credit for. Oh wait! Or maybe they just don’t care. I don’t know. Am I over-thinking this??? And speaking of “thinking”, I think that a little reassurance once in a while would go a long way to making me feel secure, don’t you think? I’m sure of it. Well, pretty sure. Okay. I THINK I’m sure. Maybe I’m not so sure.
And then there’s the topic of TRUST …
My biggest problem, I believe, is that I trust no one. Well except maybe you but I pretend-pay you so you don’t count.
If I could just TRUST in my relationship with Greg. If I could just TRUST in his feelings for me. If I could just TRUST that my kids are healthy and safe. Then all would be right. Right?
I don’t even trust my girlfriends. (No connection to the lesbian comment above. I was kidding about that.)
Oh and here’s a surprise … I don’t even trust my dogs. They would leave me in a minute if they thought they could, the little bastards.
Holy psychology 101, Batman! I think I’ve just figured out the root to my anxieties: I have trust issues! I don’t even trust LIFE!
Okay so put that way, my neurosis seems almost manageable. It also almost makes me feel “normal”.
Trust. All I need to do is develop trust. Easy peasy. *Said with fingers crossed* (And toes and ovaries just in case.)
So there you go, Barbara. Thanks for the pretend therapy session. I’m tired. Do you want to join the Mardi Gras party that’s going on in my head? Looks like fun after all!
Sharon Greenthal says
Anxiety has been a part of my life since I was 17. While my issues are different from yours, I understand how you feel. I refer to it as the undertoad, like in The World According to Garp.
Mona Andrei says
You’re lucky that you can pinpoint it’s beginnings, Sharon. It may help with the logic that it’s “not you”.
Anxiety is so insidious. I’ve felt guilty for years that I can’t just talk myself out of it….
Mona Andrei says
Yes, I’m with you, Michelle. It’s stronger than we are 🙁
Rena McDaniel says
The older I get the more I realize that almost every I know goes through these same thoughts and crazy ideas. I don’t know why men aren’t blessed with the “crazy” gene like we are. I have suffered from serious anxiety since I was a teenager. It is so bad that I have been known not to leave my home for weeks at a time. I have sever social anxiety. Being in a crowd will send me into an anxiety attack faster than anything else. I hope one day to be able to control it.
Mona Andrei says
Thanks for sharing that, Rena. And I have to say that I’m so glad I wrote and shared that post. I’ve been receiving email and feedback from women all over the world telling me that they suffer from anxieties. For some reason, this makes it a little easier; just knowing that there are others like me 🙂