What’s that feeling you get when you’re doing something hard and you want to give up but you know you shouldn’t but you also know that if you do it will be such a relief not to have to think about what you’re doing anymore? (Follow all that?)
Well whatever it is – I got a bad case of it.
This happens to me every damn time I start something life changing and it gets hard. It’s the precursor to relapse. It’s the thing that bites me on the ass just as I’m about to make some real progress. It goes something like this…
Me: “OMG I just can’t do this anymore! It’s too hard! It’s not worth all of this work and effort. I don’t have to do this. I mean really, I’m FINE! No problems here a little time away won’t cure. No one will know if I give up. It’s all up to me anyway. I’m strong enough without having to go through all of this.”
Blah, blah, fucking blah.
It did it the 4,327 times I quit smoking. Then one day I pushed through this phase (again and again) until I was over the hump and could see my way clear to a life without cigarettes.
I did it the three times I quit drinking (I mean seriously tried to quit). Then one day I pushed through (with lots of tears and tantrums) until I was over the hump and could see my life as a sober person.
I do it EVERY DAMN TIME I start a “diet” or “fitness program” and I start moaning about how I’m depriving myself and what a good person I am and look at everything I do and so I deserve those 12 cookies in the pantry. Yeah…how’s THAT working for ya? At least now I think I’ve finally come to a healthier way of thinking because I’m not on any diet or prescribed fitness program – I’m just eating less and moving more. Revolutionary I know but that’s how I roll.
Now I find myself in that same place about therapy. I see “Joe” about every two weeks and every fucking time, about 2 days prior to the appointment, I get a case of whatever the heck this is.
Head: “I don’t really need therapy. I’ve very self-aware. I’m wasting time and money on this.”
Heart: “Really? Is that why every time you tackle a difficult subject you go home and eat your weight in chocolate?”
Head: “Shut up and go back to keeping me alive. What do you know about it? I’ve got gobs of books on the subject and I’ve tackled my addictions in one form or another so there’s nothing left to do. I have a husband with whom I share everything and lots of people who love me.”
Heart: “Is that so? Then why does it still feel like work for you to avoid eating emotionally? Why do you have a tendency to do things addictively? Why do you have these manic phases in your life (however mild)? And why in the world do you still clench your jaw so hard at night that your teeth actually hurt in the morning?”
Heart: “And what about these two words….empty nesting?”
Head: “Wait right there! That’s hitting a little below the belt don’t you think? I mean, what mother hasn’t grappled with empty nesting? It’s hard!”
Heart: “Okay – forget that for a moment. Do me a favor. Go get a recent picture of yourself. How about the headshot you just had done for work by a professional. When you look at that picture, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a nice comment? Do you like her yet? And how do you feel about where your career is right now?”
Heart: “Go to the appointment.”
I realize it’s a natural tendency to shy away from things that are hard. The vast majority of the time I just lower my bull-head and power through yelling, “When the going gets tough the tough get going!” But when shit is gettin’ real like it is now and the work I’m doing is actually going to change who I am, well…
I guess I get scared.
And that’s when I want to back away.
The times I’ve given in and given up the immediate feeling of relief after making the decision is palpable. I go and buy the cigarettes or wine or chocolate and commence the relapse. But that feeling of relief soon sours and before I know it, I’m right back at the beginning – back at day one, square one, the starting gate.
Needless to say I’m not going to give up on this therapy thing. Mainly because every other time I’ve felt this way and given in it left me feeling like shit.
And every other time I’ve felt this way and, eventually, succeeded it has changed my life in all kinds of amazing ways.
Well when I put it like that, it’s kind of no brainer don’t you think?