I had an amazingly difficult – and amazingly insightful – appointment with my therapist yesterday. Did some hard work, cried lots of tears. But gained some understanding, too.
Therapists often help their clients work through “unfinished business.” Perhaps it’s a childhood memory or trauma. Maybe it’s unforgiveness or deep emotional hurt. Whatever the case, part of their job is to help the patient figure out what is incomplete, and work it through to completion. For me, “business” is relationships. And that explains my anxiety. It’s a conflict between the move to FL (three weeks from yesterday) and the uncompleted business here.
I’ve been keeping Ted informed of my increasing anxiety over the past couple of weeks, but especially intense anxiety in the past few days. At yesterday’s appointment, Ted helped me sort it out so that it made some sense.
In every move we’ve ever made, I’ve had to leave behind deep roots. Sometimes, I was able to say goodbye. Sometimes, I was able to finish the tasks on which I was working, or hand off the torch for the groups I led. But moves have always meant the end of some friendships. This was true even when I moved 10 miles up the road – some friends couldn’t make that transition – it was like I’d moved across the ocean – and I didn’t see them for a very long time, if ever again.
I’ve “lost” other friends in other moves – “out of sight, out of mind.” Of course, I’ve also gained new friends too, some of them for a lifetime, some for just that time.
In this case, I’ve really been trying hard to wrap things up. I’ve got a notebook of all the things we need to do to move, and what we need to do to move in. I’m handing off a care group that I facilitate. I’ve found a good home for my cat. I’ve said goodbye to my Bible Study friends so many times, I almost wish I hadn’t been there at all this month. I’m saying goodbyes – to some friends I’ve known for a few years, and to others I’ve known for 19+ years. I’ve made coffee dates and lunch dates and get together dates, to be able to visit one last time face-to-face. To some, I’ve said, “See ya later.” To others, there is no “later” so it’s been goodbye. Either way, these are friendships – roots – that are hard to rip out of the ground. It feels like they are ripping out of my heart.
But the time is coming – and approaching quickly – when it won’t matter if I’ve said my goodbyes or finished up my commitments – it will be done, whether I’m ready or not. I will not be here anymore. And that makes me very very sad.
And it turns out, it makes me angry too. Not angry at anyone in particular, just angry at the situation. Once again, I pull up roots. So the anger builds – inwardly – as I grapple with the decreasing time. And here’s where anxiety rears its ugly head. I don’t know what to do with the anger – I didn’t even recognize it as anger! Ted said it’s not surprising to him at all that my anxiety increases as the time to relocate approaches – there is less and less time for me to finish business here, and remember, for me that’s relationships.
I’ll be so far away from my kids. I keep thinking I’m moving, then I’m not (that has been going on for over a year). I’ve said goodbye to some people for the last time – 3 times! Makes the uprooting process unpredictable, hard to organize and control. And I want to control it. I need to control it. Because I have no control of any of it.
*TRIGGER WARNING* I expressed my anxiety by trying to control my emotions, but since I couldn’t control those either, I took to snapping a rubber band. It hurts – it really stings. But I control the sting. I control how far back I pull the band, I control where it snaps. There is an immediate release of tension, a deep exhale, followed by the opportunity to self-soothe. To touch the welt, to feel how warm it is, to rub it and comfort it. This is not behavior that I am particularly proud of – hurting myself can seem more than a little ridiculous to those who don’t understand. But snapping the rubber band allowed me to release the pain and anger that was bottled up inside, and exert some control over it.
That’s not the way God wants me to manage my pain. (Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) God wants me to bring my pain to Him, to lay it at the foot of the Cross, to express my need for God’s comfort, to ask Him to hold me, and to remind myself that no matter what, He is in control. (Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7) A couple of days ago, a very dear friend whispered in my ear, “He’s got you. He’s strong, and He’s holding you.” I needed that reminder. Thanks, Phyllis.
And I needed Ted yesterday. I needed him to help me figure out what was causing the anxiety and why I was angry. As he always does, he pointed me back to Christ. He thanked God for giving him insight into what I was saying so that he could help me sort it all out. He reminded me of tools to use to self-soothe that have nothing to do with rubber bands. He let God use him to bring me comfort (All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NLT).
Thank you, Lord, for Ted, for friendships, and for new adventures. Thank You that You go with me, that You are an everlasting friend who will never leave me. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.