e·piph·a·ny: A sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
The end of 2012 was a very important time for me. Something was brewing inside of me, but I didn’t yet understand what it was. I had this strong feeling that 2013 was going to be a big year for me, but I just didn’t know how. I was seeing my EFT therapis,t Carol, once again to try and get a grip on my anxiety. I had just started reading an anxiety memoir as a part of my own therapy. I was interested in seeing how someone else had handled their own experience with this debilitating disorder. I won’t share the name of the book, but it was awful.
The book I chose actually gave me anxiety. The author started out by saying, “this is not a book about overcoming anxiety, it is simply about my experience and how I still struggle today.” Well, no anxious person wants to read about another anxious person’s struggle without being given some answers and guidance. The book left me feeling dirty (the author’s anxiety was triggered right after his first sexual experience, one in which he goes into great detail on and then refers back to constantly….vomit) and on edge. I could not make it through the entire book, but there was one thing the author said that literally jumped out of the book, smacked me in the face and changed my life.
I don’t remember what exactly was written to quote the author, but he said in summary, “you can not teach your children anything more than what you know. You can try, but at the end of the day they will learn more from seeing what you do and what you know, then what you say.” Upon reading this I was immediately stopped in my tracks. I could not read a sentence more. I had to really digest what I just read and process it. Now I have heard the saying, “actions speak louder than words,” probably a million times just like the rest of us and this was no different, but for some reason reading it here in this anxiety memoir deeply effected me. At the time I had two daughters (I now have three) and all I could think about was what I was going to teach them by my own examples. I began the long list in my head of things my two sweet little angels would learn from me.
I avoided malls as if they were disease infested buildings that would kill me. I felt disoriented and out of control every time I set foot in one. Food shopping made my heart race and I would always feel as if I was going to pass out. I wouldn’t dare venture out into a large crowded area without my husband whose arm I would hold onto tightly. He was the only one who knew how I felt in crowds so I could use him as my crutch to lean on. I had a long list of things I wanted to do and accomplish that was nothing more than just a list because I was too afraid to fail so I never started. I was tired ALL THE TIME. My playtime with my girls consisted of me laying on the floor with a toy while my girls ran around trying to get me to move with them. My body always hurt and I would say things to my girls like, “mommy can’t hold you because my back hurts or I’m too tired.” I was giving excuses left and right not to do things. I would avoid taking them for walks by myself because I would get dizzy and feel faint. Taking them to one store took me a week of mental preparation and afterwards I would need hours to recover. I was so nervous in restaurants and would sit quietly trying to calm myself and keep myself from freaking out.
What the hell was I teaching my kids already???
In that very moment reading those words in that ever so awful book I made a decision, one that would deeply impact my life and my happiness. In that moment I vowed to overcome my anxiety once and for all. I knew that it was going to be very hard and it was going to make me extremely uncomfortable, but I was going to do it once and for all. There was no other option other than succeeding.
During my struggle I had always wanted to overcome my anxiety, but just like a drug addict “wants” to be clean, wanting is never enough. At this moment in my life I no longer wanted to be better, I “needed” to be better. Nothing was going to stop me, not even my biggest obstacle, myself. There was no way I was going to let my own anxiety infect my two daughters. I was going to kick anxiety’s ass once and for all and be an inspiration to my girls. I was going to lead my children by example.
Each time I had tried to get better I had failed, but there was always a common thought that led to my downfall. Each time I had doubted myself. I always had the “what if?” thought. What if I couldn’t do it, what if I felt like this forever, what if the good feeling didn’t last, what if I got hurt again? I always gave myself another option in my head, but this time there was no other option. There were no “what if’s,” there was only recovery. I didn’t care what it took, but I was going to do it.
Here’s the thing, when you suffer badly from anxiety it becomes easier to continue on feeling the way you do. It is a great challenge to overcome it. It is a challenge that too many people give up on, because giving up is easy. I know this because I did it so many times.
Now I need to point out that I do say I overcame my anxiety, but I really like to look at it as I’m in recovery. I believe that anxiety will always be something I have to be aware of. I have to know my triggers and use my tools to keep it at bay. When I do this I am in control and not my anxiety. I am at peace and I am happy.
Following my “epiphany” were a chain of events that further pushed me down the path of recovery, events that I will of course share, but reading that one small passage in that awful book lit a fire in me. This very fire would burn so hot, pushing me to be stronger than I could have ever imagined. I was on a mission. I was going to regain control of my life and my happiness. I would be the mother that my girls could look up to and I would be an inspiration to anyone out there who suffered as well. This was it. There was no looking back, there was only looking forward. Whatever I wanted in my future I had to go out and create.
Now began to process of letting go. I had a lot of baggage that needed dumping.