Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday Therapy: High Anxiety

This week’s session with Freud was devoted to my anxiety and shyness.
Although I haven’t had any panic attacks lately (I did come close at one point but somehow managed to bring myself down before it went into full blown panic attack mode), my general anxiety level is pretty high recently.

As if I weren’t dealing with enough on the personal front the work front became very rocky lately. As is quite common given the general state of the economy the company for which I work is having its share of difficulties, and truth be told is probably in better shape than many. However, there are uncertainties out there that lead to certain actions which contribute to instability in my own personal job. I’m being vague intentionally here as I’ve garnered something of a local audience and wish to remain somewhat anonymous at least. Anyway, there is restlessness among the ranks at work. Add to this that both my direct supervisor and the supervisor above him resigned within the last few weeks, and you have the makings for some pretty high anxiety on my part.

There is good and bad with the new supervisor. He apparently entered the job with the assumption that I am moron. Therefore, anytime I do something right (most of the time) he acts pleasantly surprised that I’m not quite the moron he thought. At least he seems to be keeping an open mind and letting me demonstrate that I have something to offer. Just because the last supervisor tried to fit me, a square peg, into a round hole doesn’t mean that I don’t have something to offer. Fortunately, the new supervisor seems committed to maximizing the skills and talents that each of us brings instead of making us little clones of him like the former one did.

Also, one of the things that holds me back at work is my overwhelming shyness. Left to my own devices I sit in my cubicle working away and never say anything to anybody. I have this overwhelming fear of bothering other people so if I don’t have something important to say or an important question to ask I just shut up and mind my own business. This makes me come across as various things to various people: arrogant, unfriendly, stuck up, haughty. It doesn’t come across good in any way. I am none of those things. I’m just afraid of everyone. All it would take is a kind word, an opening gambit to get me to open up. I feel like a stranger in a strange land. When I try to psych myself up to reach out with my own opening gambit I generate so much fear in myself that I freeze up, not to mention waste too much work time with my energies focused that way. It becomes easier to not try and to continue to sit in front of my computer.

So Freud and I talked about how this whole anxiety, shyness, fear, need for public approval thing affects so many areas of my life. It affects work. It affects friendships. It affects my church life. It affects my intimate relationships. It affects virtually every area of my life.

There is something of a paradox here. I want people to accept me as I am. I also want people to like me. I find that people don’t like me as I am. I try to change into who people want me to be in order to like me. I am incredibly uncomfortable being someone whom I am not. I find that I still don’t fit in, and people still don’t like me. I revert back to who I really am and wish fervently that people would accept me as I am.

And maybe I twist religion around to fit my needs. I so badly want and need unconditional love and forgiveness and caring that I cling to the promises of God. I cling to Jesus’ unparalleled caring for the unlovable, the outcasts, the shamed. I cling with the hope that someday when I move beyond this world I will move into the next where I will be loved, accepted and cared for without question. It is that hope to which I cling. It is that hope that puts compassion in my heart for others who feel disenfranchised and make me desire to share that hope with them, if only my shyness didn’t intervene.

And always, always, always, it comes back around to me being overwhelmingly angry that I am so often misunderstood and so often left out because of it. Yes, on Tuesday Freud and I started to expose a burning anger within me that I must sort through. We must, because I cannot continue going through life being angry and turning that anger inward toward myself.


Sailor said...

I have always marveled at the people who can go through life collecting friends, acquaintances, buddies-to-talk-to...

I don't think I'm as painfully shy as you are, but I sure hear the 'hide in the cubicle' part, that resonates a lot.

Good luck working through it-

Trueself said...

Sailor -

Cubicle hiders unite!

Fusion said...

Anger is such a poison, the sooner you can let it go the better. I had alot of anger after my wife died, and it manifested itself in many different ways. It took a while to reliese it was there, but once I did it began to lessen.

Trueself said...

Fusion - Facing the anger, even acknowledging its existence is a big step for me. I'm sure you're right though about it lessening once one does face it.