It’s time for my annual state of the union address, and I find myself in a state of anxiety. In the last three weeks, I’ve taken a fun but exhausting road trip, bought a house, packed up our condo, moved across town and unpacked all but one box. This should be a happy time, but I am exhausted.

I don’t know exactly how I got off track, but I need to get back on. This mini-inventory will be a road map back to my peace and serenity. I must ask myself the following questions:

Am I Accepting The Unacceptable?

Yes.  This morning, as I shuffled to the coffee pot, two ants scurried across my kitchen counter. Having ants in my kitchen is a problem in and of itself, but my response to their presence is more alarming. They’ve been here for almost a week, and I’ve done nothing. Why?

According to the Serenity Prayer, these ants fall under the things I can change category. My acceptance of them is a red flag. It tells me my anxiety is too great for me to take action. I am overwhelmed.

Am I Meeting My Most Basic Physical Needs?

No.  Yesterday after work I was hungry, angry, lonely, AND tired. Did I halt? No. I pushed myself to unpack just one more room. Plus, my eye is red, and it hurts. Yet, I haven’t made any attempt to rest or see a doctor.

Why am I pushing myself so hard? Being the hero is a powerful drug for me. Am I overextending myself because I am addicted to a feeling instead of really needing to get all of the boxes unpacked? What’s my motive here?

Am I Treating Others Better Than I Am Treating Myself?

Yes. I didn’t think twice about getting my son an expensive outdoor basketball goal, but I taking way too long to pull the trigger on a new pack of socks for myself. I’m not a sock hoarder. I currently only have three pairs of socks. Why am I so eager to put anyone else’s wants ahead of my basic need for clothing?

Am I Saying What I Need To Say?

No. My son has an issue at school. It’s a reoccurring problem and I’ve tried to let him advocate for himself, but once again it has caused problems at home. Late last week we called the school regarding this issue, and they responded. I don’t care for their solution, but my first thought is to second guess myself and keep quiet.

Keeping quiet is how I used to cope with all of my problems. This defunct mechanism leads to frozen feelings and resentment. I don’t want to go back to that way of life again.

Am I Stuffing My Feelings?

Yes. Perhaps my biggest issue right now is I have a short temper. My son is constantly pressing my buttons and I let him get to me. He’s crossing a boundary but I don’t know what it is. I need to identify the boundary before he crosses it instead of after.

Stopping The Insanity

On their own, any one of these issues is problematic. Together, they are making my life unmanageable. These problems are actually a relapse for me. Relapses are frustrating and heartbreaking but they can remind us of the pain we used to endure. Yesterday, I remembered the me I want to become:

  • The one who doesn’t care about what other people think
  • A bold one who tells it like it is
  • The one who does yoga every day
  • And the one who claws the eyes out of anyone who crosses her son

So how to get back to me? I’m going to do the same thing I did when I first found recovery:

  • Step 1, admit I have a problem (or 20 if you count each ant individually).
  • Step 2, I realize a power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. I drug out my journal and wrote out my list of grievances. I asked my Higher Power for courage and clarity.
  • Step 3, I surrendered to His will. Then I waited for His guidance.

Solving problems on my own doesn’t work for me. It leads to anxiety. In the rooms we say, “Analysis is paralysis.”

So I bought the socks. I called the meeting at school. I did yoga, ate a bowl of soup, and took a nap. And I asked for help with the ants.

Need some professional help to get back on track? Recovery Guidance lists counselors, physicians, centers, and therapists who can help you find a more peaceful, recovered life.

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Pam Carver

Pam is the author of two books: Co-dependent In The Kitchen, and Find Your True Colors In 12 Steps. She's also a contributing editor for Reach Out Recovery. She's a recovery advocate who likes long walks on the beach and chocolate.

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