When your angst is overpowering

What do you do when your anxiety, your angst, your feelings about a particular situation are so overwhelming, you literally tremble?  What do you do? What do I do?  I should know this.  At least I feel as if I should.  I have buried a child and survived.  I navigated my way through my mother's leukemia,  dementia and early death.  I withstood the pain of my father's decision to die at home rather than undergo any more treatment than he had already endured. I've learned to live a fairly satisfying and productive life while dealing with decades of clinical depression.  I've watched my youngest daughter suffer through a diagnosis of bipolar disease, daily struggling to own her illness while at the same time pursuing her dreams and achieving her goals.  So how is it that the failure of a relationship causes me to hold my knees and rock?

It was a relationship that I valued yet spent less time in than any other in my life.  I've been happily married for 28 years.  I still have friendships with people I attended middle school with, for that matter, relationships with people I attended elementary school with.  I've spent more time with specific therapists than the  time I enjoyed in this person's company.

The relationship in question fell apart.  The first hurricane hit and it was stripped of all it's leaves, it's protection destroyed as easily as the blooms on my willow tree in my front yard.  Yet, just as the willow, while offering no shade, I believed it to still be standing.  It would take time and maybe a little extra care but it would return to it's glory, the stronger for it's experience.  Willows bend don't they?  They are still wick though they may look dead.  Peel back the bark and you can see the green, continuing to force water through it's damaged branches.

I did what I thought I could.  I offered my water.  I took responsibility for not shoring up the tree in it's time of need.  I gave it time and understood it's need for solitude and peace.

I was wrong.  Willow trees will break.  They can be destroyed beyond repair.  Try as I might I couldn't save it.  But for some reason I can't leave it alone.

What do I do?  If you follow the analogy, what is the answer?  Cut it down and quickly replace it?  That seems too dishonorable to the joy that it brought me.

Why does it bother me so?  It was a young tree and maybe that was the problem.  It hadn't grown enough to withstand the storms of time.  Maybe my expectations were too great.  Maybe promises were asked for that in truth were beyond the tree's ability to provide.  I had visions of picnics underneath it's shade.  Chances to relax, enjoy the breeze and read a good book.  I think the tree wanted to give me all that but was too young, not able to give what it so longed to gift me with.

I should be able to let it go in peace and yet time and time again, I run out and try to prop it up.  I water it.  I feed it.  It is, by all acounts, at this point, a wasted effort and my over zealous attentions seem to be affecting the other plants around it. Plants that do need my attention.

How do you let someone go that you once loved, that you want to love again?  I should say, "time heals all wounds".  Or move on and don't look back. If I'm looking back how can I move on?  Why, in all my life, does this one relationship seem to tear me apart inside?  Just the thought of it brings about a pain that prevents me learning from the experience.  I'm not even sure what I should be learning.  As with the tree and the hurricane, one day it was beautiful, the next it was dead.  I have no understanding of how to prevent the same occurrence in my life from happening again except to hide and forswear any relationships again.  That isn't right, is it?

Should I give up all new relationships just because I failed at this one?

You may think these are rhetorical questions but they are not.  My pain feels like panic and overwhelming anxiety.  I literally tremble and shake when the subject comes up in my family for one reason or another.  I feel silly and small.  I should behave better than this.  I know better than this.  My life experiences and my age tell me what my heart refuses to accept.

I must move forward but I am stuck and so the question, what do you do when your angst is over powering?

 

Susan

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