Thursday, July 3, 2014

Therapy, Anxiety, & Friendship

After years of denial and convincing myself that I'm okay, I've finally acknowledged that it's not true. I'm not okay. So, about a month and a half ago I found a cognitive behavioral therapist and have been going to therapy. Unlike last time, when I cancelled my appointment the day before and never made another, I've actually been going. There have only been three sessions so far, I go every other week. I go again tomorrow afternoon.

As a part of my therapy, my counselor suggested that I use a technique where I allot time every day to worry and during that worry session write down all of the things I'm feeling anxious/worrying about. Then mark off all of the things I can't control. Ideally, I should be left with a list of the things I can control and can make a reasonable plan to tackle. It has worked, for the most part. I still catch myself worrying all the time. It takes an act of will to stop the worry which is exhausting and sometimes pointless because it doesn't always work.

Through this exercise, I've come to understand that I spend a lot of time worrying and feeling anxiety over my friendships. I know a fair number of people, but there are very few that I consider real friends. I try to take friendship pretty seriously, a lesson from my early adulthood when I took some people I loved for granted and it led to heartbreak. So to be spending so much energy feeling anxiety about my friendships, when it seems to be adversely affecting my health, is on that list of things I feel like I can (or should) control.

So I've decided to make it a priority because it's seriously compounding my depression. The plan is simple and looks like this:
  • Stop spending so much energy caring about people who don't care back.
  • Stop reaching out to people who don't reach back.
  • Stop working on one-sided friendships.
  • Value myself enough to stop inching further and further out on a breaking limb by remembering that people who don't value me aren't worth the emotional toll it takes to feel anxiety over them.
  • Acknowledge, if only to myself, when I really just don't like someone enough to expend the energy it takes to pretend that I do.
Those are my plans objectives. Here are the action steps:
  • Don't call or text people who just ignore it.
  • Don't call or text people who never do the same.
  • Don't email, Facebook, or otherwise attempt to engage people who don't respect me enough to even acknowledge the effort.
  • Don't put myself out there to help people who wouldn't do the same.
It should be easy, the steps are clear enough, but even making a plan and making it public is giving me anxiety. Maybe when it's done and out there I'll feel better? The thing is, I fold. I get lonely and reach out to people who don't even care enough to pretend they want to talk to me.

Unfortunately, I have an all-consuming fear that if I stop chasing dying embers, I'm going to end up without anyone. Which sounds like a pity party, and maybe it is, but it's a valid fear. There's nothing irrational about it. I have certainly found myself without friends before, though the last time it was of my own poor choices. This time, it's not me. It's them.

I've always told myself that this is in my head, that my friends care about me and that it's my insecurity telling me otherwise, but I'm not doing that anymore. I'm done making myself feel like an insecurity head-case with an inferiority complex. All that does is hurt me, particularly since it is NOT TRUE. I'm old enough, and observant enough, to look around me and see when people just don't care. Making myself sick about it isn't hurting anyone but me, which only makes it worse, because while I worry and feel anxiety they don't even notice.

Enough is enough. This is one thing I'm working to check off the list. Therapy won't work if I don't use it to try to fix the things that I can see are broken. This is broken, I'm acknowledging this is broken, but unlike so many other worries, I can do something about this. It has been on my worry list almost every day. Soon I hope it won't be. Wish me luck mental fortitude. I'm going to need it.