One of the worst things that can happen to a guy like me with anxiety is being put on the spot. This happened yesterday and it took me several hours to recover from it. Its really disarming. When it happens I freeze. I’m at a loss and I can’t get my brain to move on to the next step. My pulse speeds up and I can feel my heart thumping away in my chest and my head. My eyes desperately begin scanning for an escape route. I usually just end up looking away until the “bad thing” goes away. It sucks.
I get hot, especially in my face. My head goes void. Empty. I stop thinking. I still hear the words of the other party who’s responsible, but I’m unable to follow nor care. I’m in fight or flight mode. My only way of preservation is to just disassociate and wait for the end. And of course, time screeches to halt. This is one of those instances where I really don’t want to be in the moment. Oh please, please leave me alone. Why me? Why now?
I know I can’t avoid confrontation in my life. Its impossible. My actions will most definitely result in a reaction from somewhere or someone. Its inevitable. I can’t just weave in and out of the fabric of consequence. Its sort of like driving in Vermont. You can’t avoid every pothole.
And it doesn’t have to be big confrontations that set me off either. It can just be as simple as Hey, you didn’t do this thing right or C’mon, man, just play guitar for us. Or sometimes it can be a confrontation that hasn’t even happened yet. Like if I’m late to work or something. You have no idea where my mind goes. But maybe some of you can guess. Its exhausting.
But what I can do is try to manage my reactions better. Try to respond more constructively. I can’t expect the other party to know how I’m feeling, especially if they’re the ones causing my discomfort. How would they know? How hard could it be to just say, “Hey, I’m really not feeling comfortable right now because of this situation…” and just explain? Seems easy enough. Now, in order to do that I just need to not be knocked on my ass by the initial wave and not be continually throttled by the surf.
That’s something that I’m putting my focus to. When I bind up and get defensive what do I do to control that first rush of emotion? And secondly, if I can’t get that far then, how do I not allow my emotional response from totally overwhelming me? The mind quakes with possibilities!
And partly what I’ve learned about myself over these past few months is that I have a really hard time taking feedback. My pride often gets in the way and I tend to perceive feedback as negative and its translated into an attack on my abilities or self. Maybe I’m just afraid of being vulnerable. Who knows? I certainly don’t. That’s why I’m in therapy. I’m looking to unveil the secrets of this mystery and cast away an shroud of misconception I have.
But first I need to learn to be comfortable with myself before I can receive others more comfortably.