The Winding Path

Counselling Services provided by Barb Zacharias

Summer 2018: Back to Basics

Posted on Aug 6, 2018

Summer 2018: Back to Basics

Life is “funny,” ain’t it? I was full of ideas for my July blog. And then I hit a slump. Not writer’s block. A full blown bout of depression. What I usually refer to as a low. And at its lowest, hung on for a few days. Try as I might, I couldn’t shake it; nor could I reach its source.

Forcing myself through the usual coping strategies, the best I could ascertain was the link between powerless and depression. Being “in limbo” in my life—strung between yet-to-be severed connections to my old life and yet-to-be-made breakthroughs into my new life—keeps me stuck—and feeling powerless to move forward. I cannot control the past connections anymore than I can force things to go my way for my future. I hate that feeling. More accurately, I hate waiting. I must wait to deal with my past. And I must wait for things to fall into place for my future. I can control neither. I must be patient. And I must trust. Not my strong suits.

In a nutshell, I am once again faced with my old “demons” of never feeling/having safety, security, or stability in my life. I must provide it for myself; and when my efforts are thwarted, hang on to Trust that things will come together to carry me through. I think facing my fears of once again living on my own were a walk in the park compared to having to trust.

In my past life, I had hard-earned financial stability—but it came with strings attached—so it didn’t feel so secure to me. And being well-acquainted with the rickety low-income lifestyle since childhood, financial security is not something I readily rely upon. Add to that, between external criticism and my inner critic, I have struggled with insecurity issues my entire life. Professionally, it took many years (nearly a decade) to gain confidence in my innate and acquired abilities. Personally, it has taken even more effort, time, and courage to trust my closest friends, and to lean on those friendships to get me through my most challenging moments.

So when I am faced with situations that require waiting, my anxiety and depression flare up. Yes, I have control issues. Which are always based in anxiety. And I am well aware I am in good company with other self-professed “Control Freaks.” We have a low (or no) tolerance for uncertainty, the unknown. We like to have our ducks in a row so that we can prepare for any eventuality. Essentially, anxiety and control are ways we try to prevent bad things from happening. But we can’t. Shit happens no matter what. Life throws us curve balls regardless of how well-prepared we think we are to handle any eventuality.

Yet again I am faced with letting go of the angst…and to trust. Trust that the Universe won’t abandon me. Ooh, that’s a tough one. Trust that I am only responsible for one day at a time. Sometimes one moment at a time. Trust that I won’t end up penniless or homeless. Trust that any challenge also comes with a solution.

It was back to the basics for me. Remembering what I do have power over versus the powerless of not being able to control outcomes. Plus a reality check of my worst case scenarios and my anxieties (biggest one: not being able to live within my meager means). Fortunately I have solid folks who help with the reality check—reminding me that for this month, everything is taken care of. No need to worry about next month; it will take care of itself. But my obsession with independence sometimes trips me up. I want to be self-sufficient without any loose ends. I don’t want to depend upon others—and that being the back-up plan never sits right with me. At its core, my need for control is my fear of rejection/abandonment/betrayal. Trust opens me up to the risk of others failing to be there for me. I hyper focus on sufficiency—just in case things go sideways—which means I don’t leave room for things to work out with supports that are already in place. I fail to live in the moment.

I have a tendency of spending too much time in my past trying to figure things out, or in the unforeseen future, trying to prevent or prepare for the worst. In accepting that risk, I must make a conscious choice to live in the present. Sometimes reeling myself all the way in, to this very moment—not just the day, the week, the month, or the year—by practicing mindfulness. Paying attention to my surroundings and my thoughts without judgment or analysis. Not easy for a supremely analytical brain that earns a living by connecting the dots for other people.

Sometimes I have to accept that there are dots that have yet to connect. And trust that they will connect on their own, all in good time. Oddly enough, the antidotes to my anxiety and depression lie in the acceptance of my limitations: Trust. Patience. Hope. All of which have no limits.

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