One of the lingering affects of going through the health crisis with my son is a periodic feeling that the other shoe is going to drop. If I’m honest about it, and why not be honest after all that is why I’m sharing, it appears to me that this fear of something bad looming just out of sight didn’t actually start with my son’s health crisis; that situation only served to escalate my feelings. As I look back over my childhood, it is apparent that this “other shoe” mentality was
modeled for me over and over throughout the years. Crisis can certainly bring one up close and personal with dormant childhood anxieties and fears.
During the dark days of my son’s crisis, I spent months glued to my phone, every text message sent a wave of fear through my system; every phone call caused my heart to sink into my toes. Most of the time, it actually was some type of crisis associated the situation, but even when it wasn’t, the same reaction in my nervous system occurred. I got to the point where the sound of my phone notifications were enough to send me into a near tail spin even before I found out who was at the other end of the call or message. I knew that I had to do something to ease the stress. So when the anxiety was really heightened, I’d turn off all notifications and silence my phone – allowing myself a little bit of a break.
In the midst of this crisis, I fell madly in love with my yoga practice and participated in a 40-Day yoga challenge that required me to practice yoga 5-6 days per week. At the same time, I started running several times a week as well. Each time I practiced or ran, I was able to step away from my phone and have a break from any potential crisis (imagined or real) that may have been looming. This was very calming to my nervous system and it was a bonus that my body was getting exercise and my mind was focused on something else for a few short hours each day.
Now two years post crisis, I still have many days where I keep my phone on silent. You see, while this fear of the other shoe dropping started even before my son’s crisis, it escalated during and while I don’t experience it as often as I once did, when it shows up, it’s at a quite heightened level right out of the gate. I ebb and flow with this, but the small benign things that can set off the fight or flight response in my body still surprise me, as does the feeling of fear that can be present in those moments.
This has got me wondering. What is the underlying challenge that keeps me from healing this in my body? I mean, really, I have a very good life. Thankfully, there are no major issues that I am dealing with right now, and yet… yet there is that small voice inside me that says, “what if it all falls apart?” In a way, the better I feel, the stronger this insistent voice can be. I wonder why I would knowingly want to deny myself happiness. It’s as if my “normal” is keeping happiness in check – not allowing myself to fully trust it or at least not for long periods of time. As I explore this more, I recognize that there is also shame and fear below the surface; as if I’m afraid to live my true happiness because if something were to happen to upset my “apple cart”, I will feel shameful or humiliated for believing that I could truly be happy. Whoa – lots to explore here!
I have definitely experienced quite a bit of loss in my life, heartbreaking loss. While I explore the triggers and feelings under the surface, I am working to be gentle with myself and just allow the feelings to come up. I am also exploring this shaming belief and examining ways to rewrite the story because being happy is nothing to be ashamed of. Along with this, I’m taking the risk to be happy and allow the experience of happiness to be stronger than the feeling of impending crisis.
How do you handle the feeling that the “other shoe” is going to drop? Please share any tools, techniques or insights that you feel would support others as they work through this type of experience! Feel free to comment or send this information in an email.
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