As some of my readers know, I was fighting through some pretty serious amounts of anxiety and depression back in the spring. When your need to fill your life worrying over someone else goes away (you’ve recovered from love addiction) there’s only so long you can rest high on the hog before that need creeps back in to worry about something. It almost seems like it’s part of our nature. And who do you start to worry about when you have no man, woman or relationship to worry about? Yourself.Or worse, made up stuff!
And guess what, the amount of worrying you do (over anything, really) is in direct proportion to how much time you have on your hands! And so, in the spring, when I had loads of free time and wasn’t doing much of anything, there was only one thing left to do…sink deep into anxiety and depression. And I did. And it was miserable.
And so I would like to share with you what I did to “get out.”
- Got a check up. Or, if you’re like me, a true hypochondriac, I went to every medical specialist I knew and I got every test done imaginable to rule out cancer, heart disease, and other possible signs of impending death. Test results came back: all good.
- Threw myself back into therapy. This was a hard one for me. I was supposed to be happily married and perfectly cured from love addiction, and here I was suffering mentally and emotionally. The truth was; er, the truth is we all have moments of weakness, sadness, pain, etc. Recovering from love addiction does NOT guarantee a life without suffering. It does guarantee that you better know how to manage your life so as to avoid self-made suffering. At any rate, not only was I dealing with personal issues of not having a “purpose,” I was also dealing with a teenage son who was extremely difficult at the time and business/job related issues that were ripping any shred of happiness from me. I had every right to crawl into a hole and seek help from a therapist. And while she didn’t entirely blow me away or impart any magical knowledge, she did help me to realize that my biggest problem was that I needed to find a life and a career of my own.
- Left my job. Well, not entirely. Because it’s a family business, I am in it whether I like it or not. But I redefined my role and cut out having to deal with the toxic people who were bringing me down. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! Sometimes running away from your problems is the best choice. Ever!
- Went to Europe. While I do understand that not everyone has the luxury of having their own personal Eat, Pray, Love soul-searching experience in Italy, India and Bali (or, in my case, Paris, the French Alps & Barcelona, with kids in tow), I cannot stress enough the need to escape your life for a while to a calm, stress-free environment and take time off to just think, heal from your wounds and regroup. This could mean taking a mini-vacation to the mountains, the seaside, the next town over! Whatever you can afford (financially and time-wise), do it. Your state of mind depends on it. While in Paris I did a lot of soul searching. And, I made a lot of firm promises to myself while there that would change the course of my life and point me in a new direction.
- Found a solution. If you are filled with anxiety, depressed, in pain, suffering, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM. And what do you do when you have a problem? You find a solution. The solution could be anything: leave a relationship, find a new job, lose weight, etc. Whatever the case, you need to figure out what that solution is. Chances are the solution is not “take anti-depressants” or “just tolerate the pain…” Chances are it’s something that includes change and taking action.My solution was to find meaningful work.
- Kept the promises I made to myself/followed through. This is the hardest part. We so often have these healing, soul-searching retreats somewhere, come back to our old life renewed and strengthened, and then just go right back to doing what we always did without making the necessary changes that inspired strength to begin with. And let’s face it, sometimes you just need a break and you CAN go back to your life because nothing really needs to be changed. But in my case, action needed to occur and I needed to follow through on the promises I made to myself while in Paris. If, while you’re soul searching, you decide you need to get out of a toxic relationship, then when you come back to reality, start planning and plotting to get out. If you decide you need a new job, start searching. In my case, I needed to find work I love, and a purpose for doing that work.
- Took action. Nothing is more powerful than action. Once you make a decision, don’t stop there. Follow through and then act. In my case, I ultimately realized that I needed to be busy so as to keep my mind from getting into trouble with “worry” thoughts. My job had changed to the point where I lost my position and my power (which was a good thing, because we became successful enough to hire a pro, instead of me!), so all my energy was spent worrying about my teenage son and then, worrying about my health. My solution to this: start my own business. This act alone has been curative. Not only am I busy as heck, I feel good about what I am now doing with my life and it leaves little time to worry. This action step however, was a very, very, VERY long time in coming because fear held me back. My last bit of advice, therefore, is do not let fear hold you back from taking rational action.
Someone on the boards this morning wrote:
I wish there was an easy way “out” of the sadness/longing/”needing” but there isn’t.
But, there is.
There is an easy way out. In fact, letting go of all the pain and sadness is far easier than you think. It’s as simple as one tiny *belief.* Trouble is, we complicate things. We think to get from point A to point B takes years of struggle, chaos, long rambling journeys and mountain climbing. When in actuality, it usually takes us humans that long to arrive at something that was right in front of us all along. And what is it? What is this one tiny belief? It is this: it is the belief that YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN WHAT THIS SITUATION OFFERS.
Poof. There it is. And it takes nothing more than a blink to arrive at that belief. It is the same belief you have within you that allows you to choose a nice car over a clunker; a pretty dress over a mediocre one, and a better piece of fruit in the produce aisle as opposed to one that is dented and bruised. And if you think there’s anything more to it, or years or learning, or a secret path known only by the illuminati, you’re wrong. It is accessible to each and every one of us. It’s right in front of our faces for the taking.
And here’s the best part: when you deeply believe you are worth more than a particular situation, and your actions back up that belief, things start to look a whole lot different. If you believe you are the type of person that should not be shopping at Wal-Mart, but rather at Macy’s, then you most likely don’t shop at Wal-Mart. If you believe you are worth more than eating at a McDonald’s and that your body deserves better than that type of food, then chances are you eat at better restaurants with cleaner, healthier ingredients or you cook for yourself. If you believe you should have a better job than cleaning out bathrooms at a rest stop, then surely, you seek out a better job.
If this example sounds elitist, it’s because it is. It is the kind of mentality that separates the privildged from everyone else. They grew up believing they deserved better.Do they technically deserve better than anyone else? No. But they BELIEVE they do. And that belief is the driving force of all their actions. It drives them to choose better restaurants, better colleges, better jobs, better lovers, and better friends. Do they always “win” or never suffer? In the big scheme of things are they worth more than anyone else? No. They suffer like the rest of us. They lose like the rest of us. And they are no better or worse than the rest of us. But their belief in themselves is the one determining factor that sets them on a different path than someone who lacks belief in themselves.
And while the Wal-Mart/Macy’s example of priviledge clearly requires money, our personal struggle with love addiction does not. We do not need a dime to BELIEVE we deserve more than the miserable place we put ourselves in. We do not need a penny to BELIEVE we have value. We can create that value from within. We can create value out of nothing more than a passing thought that we choose to hold on to and embrace.
So…when you look back at your relationships, or feel that this is all you’ve ever wanted or the only thing you’re capable of getting, the “easy way “out” of all that is to BELIEVE in yourself. To stop in your tracks and say, I AM BETTER THAN THIS SITUATION. The PoA is McDonald’s and I don’t eat there anymore. Why? Because I now BELIEVE that if I feed myself with better food, I will be healthier and stronger. Saying goodbye to McD’s, therefore, becomes an act of self love. Saying goodbye to the PoA becomes an act of self love.
And you, my friend, are a rare and beautiful gem. Not to be bet on during a hand of poker among a group of gambling fools. You belong in the hands of someone who recognizes your value. But, in order to place yourself in these caring hands, you must first recognize your value yourself. When you do, the longing for crumbs disappears. The sadness of that loss is replaced with a feeling of joy and accomplishment for choosing a healthier way. And the needing is met from within and from your interactions with real, substantial, healthy people that feed you, not just stuff you with empty calories. Not the junk you’ve been living off of for so long.
So, whenever you lose your way, remember WHY you are blocking this person from your life or trying to move on: Because you BELIEVE you deserve better. Because you BELIEVE you are worth more. This belief is your beacon. Let it guide you. It’s that easy.