Now that my therapist and I are past the getting to know you stages, one of the things that we talk pretty regularly about are all of the things I’ve avoided doing for lo these many years. These are things that normal people do on a regular basis but that I found ways around doing for a very long time, either because no one taught me how to do them, or because they scared me and so not doing them was much easier than doing them. There’s a long list of these things and you’d be amazed at how normal I managed to make my life seem while I never drove anywhere, never went to the dentist, never pumped my own gas, never got my hair cut. Life was going along just fine without these things. Until it wasn’t.
The bitchy thing about anxiety is that running from it never makes it better. There is literally one cure, and that cure is to face the thing that makes you nervous square in the face and then to do it over and over again until it becomes powerless over you. Running from these things never ever helps, even as it makes you feel better because yeah! You’re not doing the scary thing. Unfortunately your life becomes very small when you’re afraid of everything, and you eventually have to fight your way out or pretty soon just waking up in the morning seems like too much to deal with. But facing and doing really hard things is a really hard thing to do and it’s work and it’s a slog and it’s just not a fast getting better process.
Did I ever tell you about the time that I didn’t go the eye doctor for eight years? Well. The other thing about people with anxiety is that they think they are extremely good at problem solving, when in fact they are very bad at problem solving. Instead of finding an eye doctor and figuring out how much it would cost and making an appointment for a time when I would have child care and getting over my fear of being in an enclosed room with a stranger literally in my face, I just wore the same pair of very old, very falling apart and crooked glasses for eight years, and I ordered my contacts from Canada. What a great solution?! Right? In the US to get contacts regularly you have to have an eye check up once a year, but in Canada, they apparently don’t require that, so you can just order contacts online, pay slightly more than you would if you just bought them at Costco, and everything is great! You never have to see an eye doctor!
Can you see how this is bad problem solving? And how good problem solving would be finding an eye doctor and arranging child care and checking with my insurance and making an eye appointment? Probably you can see that. I could not.
I thought I was SO smart, you guys, I really did. I thought I was SUCH a good problem solver. Turns out, no. Not so much.
However. Eventually even I had to admit that my glasses were one minute away from falling apart completely and also my eye started to hurt whenever my contacts were in and my therapist started giving me the side eye and telling me we were going to make some appointments together during my therapy session. So I took a deep breath and I made way too big a deal out of the whole thing and I googled like mad and I asked Erik nine thousand stupid questions about our vision insurance and I googled some more and then I made an appointment at Costco, took a Xanax, did some really questionable deep breathing, and for the love of god went to the eye doctor and got a glasses prescription and some new contacts and also that’s when I found out that the contacts I have been wearing for the past seven years are NO LONGER MADE THEY ARE OUT OF BUSINESS AND THEY GAVE ME AN EYE INFECTION. What a good idea to never go to the eye doctor and order sketchy contacts on the internet from another country, anxious crazy Elizabeth of the past! What a very very good idea that was.
Anyway. Now I have new glasses and I love them and they are not about to fall apart. I have contacts that are still being produced in America! I have an eye doctor and a place to order new glasses or contacts any time I want (I can’t recommend Costco enough for this) and I do not have an eye infection.
And now I have to go finish learning how to be a grown up and call the gynecologist. Gulp.