Love is more than flowers

Steve and I went out for dinner last night and then to the Opening Ceremonies of the Canada Winter Games, which Halifax is hosting for the next two weeks.

He left for work this morning, and Leila happily told him that we were making him a Valentine’s Surprise this afternoon! CUPCAKES!!! Alena exclaimed, for which she was immediately scolded for ruining the surprise.

It’s been a fast and fairly normal week, which in itself feels kind of abnormal, since it’s been so long since I’ve felt this way.

I had a really bad case of the blues through November and December which ultimately gave way to a general feeling of anxiousness and impending doom and even a handful of anxiety attacks. To say it hasn’t affected our life has been an understatement.

I’ve been praying for strength and to feel not so alone anymore. And I’ve been praying for the ability to focus on the positive in my life. I’ve also been praying for Steve, that he’ll have patience with me through this and to understand that I can’t always help it. That I’m not doing this on purpose.

He had asked me to drop something off to him at work yesterday and I told him I’d be there at 3:30. My schedule changed around noon and I headed down. But he was on lunch and (in a very un-like him move) had forgotten his phone on his desk (that he shares) and someone had turned it off. Unanswered texts are no big deal, as it often takes him an hour to reply in the middle of a work day, but his boss told me he was on lunch and his phone was going straight to voice mail. I was frustrated, and then worried and then angry. Snapping at him when he came out to the car to pick up his bag, tears welling in my eyes. Just leave it alone, I warned him, I don’t want to talk about it. But he insisted and I got angry at him and he got frustrated and I told him to go back to work. He left in a huff and I left in a huff and drove away crying and cursing at other drivers.

We met downtown at dinnertime, me with a fresh face of makeup and a low cut shirt. He picked me up, told me I looked beautiful. He apologized for getting frustrated. I apologized, too. And then we went to dinner and gazed at each other lovingly across the table and I asked him if he was bored with our monotonous life and he assured me no.

I’ve been seeing a councilor for about five weeks. And it’s made a big difference. I can diffuse myself better now, and in being able to diffuse myself, I don’t lash out at Steve or drag him through an anxiety attack with me. And in not putting him through that, I don’t feel that guilt afterwards, and basically, it’s easier on both of us. At first I thought that learning how to diffuse myself was a band-aid. Ultimately, better in the long run, sure, but to have to focus on waves of anxiety multiple times a day is still extremely exhausting. But it turns out that I’ve been able to do it more and faster the longer I keep practicing. What took five minutes of deep breathing three weeks ago, is now one deep breath with closed eyes. And the faster the feelings go away, it seems that the less frequently they come around.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to mention counciling here, as I was honestly a little embarrassed by it at first. I also didn’t think it would do much, as I consider myself a fairly self-aware individual and had everything figured out. (Spoiler: I didn’t.) But it isn’t anything to be embarrassed about and more importantly, it has worked. I’m still a work in progress, let me assure you. But for the first time in weeks and weeks, I didn’t feel anxious every day this week. And then some days I only felt anxious once. There were a couple days that were almost constant waves of it, but I can see better why it’s happening and that makes it easier to both see the fault in my thinking and to calm myself down.

Perhaps the most surprising thing I’ve realized is that it’s ok to not be able to do it all. Sure, I’ve always claimed that, but that didn’t stop me from refusing to accept anything other than 100% effort on my part for whatever task I was doing. And so when I finally told my mom that I needed help to get through this, amidst body-racking sobs, I was accepting that I just can’t. I can’t be perfect, sure, but it’s not fair to expect that of myself. I couldn’t figure this out on my own and I couldn’t see the fault in my thinking that lead me there.

(Aside: I am having a hard time not deleting that last paragraph, because although I’m starting to accept imperfection as a realistic and healthy part of myself, it still gives me butterflies to put it out there.)

It’s always hard to end posts like this, because it’s really just a continuing story, winding through time. Will I ever be here again? Honestly, I hope not. My goal is to get through this and build a better sense of self-esteem and live happily ever after, never feeling jealousy or anxiety again. What? That’s unrealistic, you say? Apparently, I make a lot of extreme statements, and yes, that last one probably falls into that category. I could reference a ship in a storm, but no, I’ve used that cliche enough. Or I could reiterate the importance of my own well of strength, but no, I’m tired of that one too.

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