Saturday, May 8, 2010

.. .Taking Them Off Is Up to Us!

Recently I talked with a dear, dear Friend I met when I first started attending RI meetings. We had been out of touch for more than a decade, and it was so good to connect again. We reminisced about former days and our conversation was sprinkled with Recovery language.

During the course of our phone visit he mentioned something we had never talked about before. Early-on in his practice, he chose a goal - to be able to go out/be in a public situation for two hours – no matter how strong his symptoms might be. I thought WOW – that’s a really good target to strive for! He added: “You can do just about anything in a two hour time span – go to church, a movie, out to dinner, visit friends or relatives at their home, etc.” When he was talking about it, I thought – what a wonderful idea!!

The sad part is, 20+ years later, he remains at his two-hour limit. Two hours is the ‘most’ discomfort he’s willing to bear. He talked about wanting to fly pretty much across the country to see friends, and had been hesitating and in duality about it for more than a year. “I want to, but I don’t think I can bear that much discomfort.” The time it took to get to the airport, the extended time in the plane, then the ride to his friend’s home - when he calculated all that time, he labeled it ‘too much’. Plus, he would be in a ‘strange’ place for five days. Too much discomfort to bear!! He wasn’t ‘willing’.

For a person with high anxiety or panic, extending personal limits of how much discomfort to experience is how we operate at first. Little by little is the method of building up our nerve resistance. That’s how I did it. In fact, I called them ‘baby steps’. A little at a time. And I consciously chose to extend the time. Yes, I actually kept a written log. How else would I truly/accurately know if I had exceeded my last objective?

Dr. Low referred to taking off the limits, with this phrase: Take the ceiling off the amount of discomfort you’re willing to bear.
In order to be able to do literally anything, I learned in time that I couldn’t simply keep raising my ceiling inch by inch – or quarter hour by quarter hour – I had to take OFF the ceiling.
I had to take off ALL then limits I was setting for myself.
No one else was holding me back, but me.
I had to say: “I don’t care how uncomfortable I get – I’m going to do this”. (and for the record: I did say that aloud to myself)

Sooner or later, if we really, really, really want to reach the ‘final cure’ we all have to make that decision for ourselves.
Rather than “It’s soooo uncomfortable, we have to learn to say:
So! It’s uncomfortable.

© 2010 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved