In this short solo episode, Leah talks about what she has learned since spoke to you directly in January – what she affectionately thinks of as her “breakdown” episode. Also: Valentine’s Day wishes and good news about the future of the “Good Girls Talk About Sex” podcast!
LEAH: Hi friends. It’s Leah. I wanted to check back in with you after the solo episode that I put up several weeks ago where I kind of was having a meltdown. I wanted to share with you how deeply I appreciate the support that you sent my way. I was kind of overwhelmed in the best way possible by all of the love that you sent. Thank you.
To give you an update about where I am personally, I am still really struggling with anxiety. As I mentioned in that earlier episode, I expect sort of the last couple months of the year to be challenging because there are a bunch of anniversaries of deaths and things like that in those last 2 months. And then, I look forward to the first of the year as sort of a renewal, the time when I will sort of get my head back together and be able to move forward. And I don’t love the fact that I go through what seems to be this annual period of difficulty, but I have grown to appreciate the fact that it has a defined end except that this year it didn’t end.
This year, rather than the grief and the anxiety sort of subsiding around the first of the year, this year, that anxiety has unfortunately continued and even grown kind of exponentially worse. And I have been having a really hard time. There are times where I feel kind of paralyzed by anxiety. Last week, I actually went out of town. A friend offered me her apartment while she was going on a trip and I thought, “Oh, this will be great. I can go somewhere different where there aren’t all of the distractions of my apartment and my life.” I can just go get away from a week and get a whole bunch of work done and hopefully give myself a little bit of distance from all of the things that I thought were creating the anxiety.
But what happened was that the anxiety followed me and got again, so, so much worse to the point where I was really like literally sitting on her couch all night just in a little ball, afraid to move. Not afraid that anything terrible was going to happen, but paralyzed by the feeling that I couldn’t even figure out which direction to move in. Was I going to try to get something to eat? Or was I going to try to go to bed? Or was I going to try to go to the bathroom? Like literally that decision was so much bigger than my capacity to handle it.
So, what became really clear to me in this moment when I thought that the anxiety was sort of tied in with some real specific life things was, no, the anxiety was actually completely tied into me, to my emotional state to things that apparently, I still need to work on. So, I’ve made some decisions. I have contacted a grief counselor and will start working with her next week. I believe that what’s going on is all of this anxiety is actually a kind of a manifestation of the ongoing grief that I have around my mom’s death.
And the way that I figured that out is that when I have an anxiety episode, the only person I want to call is my mom because she was the one who sort of knew the formula to help ease me out of the anxiety so I get anxious. I want to call my mom, and she’s the one person I can’t call because she’s no longer living. And that just makes me more upset and the anxiety grows and its this vicious, vicious cycle. So, I have some grief work to do around the fact that my mom is no longer here.
At the same time, I started going about two months ago to Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families. It’s a 12-step group for anyone who grew up, not just for children of alcoholics, it is also for children of dysfunctional families and there are a lot of us. So, if you count yourself among that number, I highly recommend this group. It’s a 12-step program based in sort of the whole model of Alcoholics Anonymous, but I’ve tried some other 12-step groups before and have not really felt deeply tied to them.
This one, I felt like I walked in the room and I knew I was in the right place. So, I’ve been going for a couple of months, and I have learned so much about the ways that I interact with the world as a result of the lessons that I learned in my home, things like how scary it is for me to tell someone who I love that there are little things bothering me. Because in my experience in my home, if I voiced a small thing, it turned into a major catastrophic drama in which I was wrong, and bad, and stupid, and needed to be punished.
So, in my current relationship, I have the habit of when small things happen that irritate or annoy me, I just push them away and say, “It’s no big deal. I don’t need to address that. It’s just no big deal.” Until I have pushed so many little no big deal things under the rug that at some point, I lose my mind and they all come tumbling out.
And the other thing that I’m just beginning to realize is that I have looked at my father as the driver of the dysfunction in our home, which I mean he was. He was an alcoholic. He was a gas lighter. He was awful in a lot of ways. But I have sort of held my mom up as this like paragon of virtue who helped to protect me from him. And the truth is that she did protect me from him the best way that she knew how, and she really in real ways gave her life up to keep me safe.
But she was also dysfunctional. She also had a lot of issues that I learned. A lot of behaviors that I took on. And so as much as my father has been the primary focus of my healing activities for the last 20 years, he is the one who infused me with these beliefs that I was fat, and ugly, and unlovable, because he said those things to me. I also have a lot of repatterning and healing to do now around my mom, and I have to admit, it’s scary because the idea of admitting some of the things that probably need to be said out loud feels really disloyal to a person who gave everything for me. But I think that’s the healing work that I have to do now. And I hope it too will continue me down.
LEAH: That’s not a verb. [LAUGHTER]
LEAH: I hope that it will continue to push me forward in my own sexual healing, because I also know that my mom was really sexually repressed. And while that’s not something that she necessarily talked to me about, I know that I took on a lot of her patterning and behaviors. So, we’ll see.
But I wanted to let you know where I am on this journey, and thank you again so much for showing up. I am deeply, deeply grateful for each and every one of you who show up to these conversations. And today is Valentine’s Day, so if you have a Valentine, I hope that the two of you or three or four or however many there are in your relationship landscape, I hope that you have a wonderful time celebrating each other. And if you are solo on this Valentine’s Day, I hope that you will hear this from me that you are loved. You are appreciated. That there are people in this world who want to love you exactly the way that you show up. And if you’re celebrating Valentine’s day with your friends, I know some of my friends have what they call a “Galentine’s Day” and I adore that. I think actually some of those are some of the most special relationships so I wish you a wonderful time celebrating love in whatever way it shows up in your life.
Thank you for showing your love for me. And oh, I also want to say that I am going through all of this work and all of this internal processing, it does not affect the podcast in any way. I actually have spent the last week working on processing audio for the podcast, and I have interviews already taped to take us through at least September.
LEAH: So regardless of how down, and deep, and dirty all of this internal work gets, you will get the podcast on schedule.
LEAH: So, I hope that you’re well. Take care of yourselves and I’ll talk to you again.
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