Today, I’m grateful for therapy. We had a phenomenal session. My therapist asked me how well has my anxiety served me, and it immediately dawned on me that the true answer is “poorly.” As soon as I saw that, and saw too my impulse to hide it from her (because I’m anxious about how she perceives me), I felt I crossed into a new territory in therapy with a new goal on the horizon.
When I first returned to therapy I thought the problem I wanted to tackle was that I no longer felt the closeness to my parents I once did, and that largely stemmed from my unhappiness with the way they communicated/expressed themselves. During today’s session, I came to realize that I had been trying to control how my parents act/behave/communicate (essentially, how they are), because I wanted control over them to ease my anxiety about potentially losing them.
In my teens I often behaved recklessly, and I only corrected myself when the consequences of my behavior impacted me negatively. As long as I couldn’t conceive of harm to myself, I continued to behave poorly whenever convenient or desired. In my early to mid-20s, through a DUI and a relationship crisis caused by my own callous carelessness then, I learned I did not want my bad behavior to hurt others. From the moment of each realization to every instance of enforcement thereafter, I was always rewarded for correcting my behavior, my course in life, my self.
When Amanda succumbed to suicide when I was 27, I frantically tore through life searching for what to correct. I took over my dad’s care and in time was rewarded with his recovery from his terrible depression. I struggled profoundly with my mom remaining abroad precisely because she felt out of my control. When my mom returned stateside following retirement, a new dynamic arose. I seamlessly reoriented myself to task. I picked apart how my parents interacted with each other and me, for more corrections to make. I needed their communication better, their moods better, and their lives more perfectly managed (by me), so I could lower the risk of them also deciding to end their own lives. All of this I saw today. I also saw how utterly futile and potentially harmful my pursuit could be.
I felt regret over my mistaken direction, and the resources I threw away trying to accomplish the impossible. But, I also feel incredible relief. Now that I see I’d been striving after the wind, I feel freed (and equipped with abundant resources [energy, time, thought capital] likewise newly freed) to pursue something better. I have therapy to thank for where I stand now, clearer-headed and feeling excited for the future for myself.