I was sitting in my first counseling session with my anxiety at full peak. To be honest, I should have been sitting in this chair months ago. A pen could have dropped and I would have cried because I was, simply put, at my breaking point. My son was noticing how upset I seemed all the time, how something simple I would once laugh off gripped me at my core, and how our home was not as happy as it was before. The constant guilt of that would eat me alive.
I sobbed at that first appointment, the full hour appointment tears ran down my face. I cried about how I felt I had failed my son, how lonely this stage of life was, and how overwhelming life is when you are a single parent. It was as though once I opened those flood gates, which I’ve worked so hard to keep closed, I could no longer close them. They were stuck open, both in therapy and once I left. This was almost too much to bear, I thought. I cannot go back; this did not help me at all.
As I walked out of the office, I refused to make another appointment. I used the excuse, I’ll call when I have my calendar in front of me. However, as I was walking to my car, I noticed I mentally felt lighter. Almost as though I could take a deep breath and fully let it out without tensing up. My jaw was no longer clenched. A coping mechanism I often would resort to, to help hide my anxiety.
I took a hard look at myself in the mirror. My eyes were red and swollen, my makeup looked like a hot mess but I was smiling, I was relieved of my burdens. See after three more appointments, I’ve learned that a large portion my anxiety is because I have placed those unrealistic expectations on myself. Yes, now society has a standard, or pro-quo, but who the hell cares, right?
I was the root cause of my anxiety because I felt compelled to hold it in, conform to the standards of a husband and wife household, along with not ask for help because I didn’t want to fit the mold of the often misleading single mother label. Instead of taking care of myself and finding my triggers for my anxiety, I would hide, lash out, or cry. I would often times forget to breathe, I would find myself tense all the time, and the cycle would continue, day in and day out.
Today, I fully recognize myself in the mirror and it is all because I took one of the hardest steps of my life, reaching out for help.