I’m a 32-year-old divorcée with commitment and trust issues.
And social anxiety.
And borderline personality disorder tendencies.
I have a rough time with most things.
Well, 2019 started out with a bang, but not the way I would have liked.
A friend has decided he needs more space, so we won’t be contacting each other until he’s ready. I have a lot of feelings about this. Anger and frustration, and definitely fear and sadness. He was a constant friend for so long and it’s hard for me not to want to talk to him every day in some form or another. I’m angry that he has made yet another decision without compromising or giving me any parameters to work with. I’m also still angry that he couldn’t voice his concerns with me before. And I’m afraid he won’t want to be my friend after this separation.
I’m keeping busy by going out a lot. I don’t really like to, but I’d just end up moping at home and I don’t like being by myself for too long. The evenings alone are rough and I just numb myself with a sleeping pill or edibles. And I try to clean or do something else at home, but those activities only last so long. I have a couple of distractions planned this weekend, but they’re not enough to fill my every waking hour.
First up, the Night of Ideas at SF Public Library. It’s a
“seven-hour marathon of debate, performance, readings and music featuring top thinkers from San Francisco and beyond as we envision the city of the future.”
In theory, I’ll be at the main library from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. But there’s still 9 a.m. to about 5 p.m. to contend with, unless I sleep in a little. Sunday is the Super Bowl, and I’m forcing myself to go to a small party. I’m not very social by nature, and the work week supplies me with enough tension and social anxiety already. But, I am going to a party. Yes. A small party. It will be fine. That will cover most of the afternoon, but my morning is free, as is my late evening. I dread those hours with nothing to do. They leave me alone with myself and that’s still an uncomfortable position for me.
Taking it one day at a time has been hard. I feel my anxiety almost constantly. It’s like my body is anticipating some long overdue attack. I feel wired. I try to go on walks but it doesn’t really dissipate; exercise was never one of my favorite outlets. Truly, I’m really taking it hour by hour these days, with each passing hour being another small victory.
I don’t know. Just feeling lost and lonely despite sharing and connecting with my other friends. And maybe feeling a bit foolish for putting all of my eggs in one basket with this particular friend.
I’m pleased that January is over. It felt like a new train wreck every single week. Or every other day, even. And not just relating to my current crisis. A lot of people I know, personally and professionally, are going through hard times. Separations or divorce, family or friends’ deaths, unemployment, racism, harassment, you name it. It’s difficult not to have a negative view of life and the world when you’re surrounded by nothing but bad news. Don’t even get me started on the state of national and international news. It feels as though I’m trying to filter out a single drop of joy from an ocean of despair.
I went to a stress management workshop today. I was struck by how timely it was. Basically, we should accept that stress is a part of life, but realize that how we view it can be modified. Our perception of stress affects our body’s response to stress. Thinking of the stress response as helpful — the anxiety, the nerves, the sweats, etc. — can actually help us build resilience. These physical manifestations of stress are signs that the body is preparing itself to overcome a struggle. Thought of that way, you’re sort of powering up, giving yourself the courage, strength and energy to pull through whatever the situation may be.
One way to change our perception of stress is by identifying stress triggers and becoming aware of our perceptions of them. A classic example is driving in SF. That’s a trigger for a lot of folks, but their perception of it can result in very differing emotions, and thus very differing behaviors. If you view traffic as a nuisance, you’ll likely be irascible. You’ll flip off drivers who cut you off, white-knuckle your steering wheel, and arrive at your destination a giant ball of stress. Those who accept traffic as a routine of the commute can have a very different response; they may just nod at drivers who cut them off and think, “She must be in a hurry to be somewhere.” Or they learn to use the time in the car more productively by listening to music and meditating, or enjoying a podcast or the alone time in the car.
One of my stress triggers is rude or mean people. In the daily life of a librarian and manager, I encounter many irritable patrons. I could immediately get angry and write someone off as a nuisance or troublemaker, or, I could step back and give him the benefit of the doubt and try to be empathetic. I try my damnedest to do the latter because all of us are battling our own daily demons, and most of the time we just want to air our grievances.
Another way to manage stress is through healthy coping strategies. I stress healthy because there are a host of unhealthy coping mechanisms, many of which I am guilty of that we won’t go into here. Breathing, positive self-talk, taking a minute and stepping back, calling friends, exercising, going on a walk, distractions. These are healthy. Makes a lot of sense, right?
For me, however, these coping strategies always feel so short-lived. I momentarily feel better, but the darkness closes in pretty quickly and becomes overwhelming.
I guess that’s why I go to therapy though, and do a million other things to manage my mental health. The “normal” self-care options aren’t enough, and I’m generally OK with that, though it does get frustrating. I have other options in my arsenal. Like writing in my blog, on rare occasions.
Anyway, thanks for reading, whoever you are.