Resolution For Happiness

by Susan Pogorzelski on January 27, 2010 · 23 comments

I’m standing here on the ground
The sky above won’t fall down
Resolution of happiness
Things have been dark for too long…

Goo Goo Dolls, “Don’t Change”

More and more I find that I have to force myself out of bed in the morning to get ready for work. And more and more I have to force myself to leave the house, get in the car, and drive off down the road.

Sometimes it’s an unconscious knowledge of the responsibility I have, a gentle reminder that I’m going to a place I enjoy, doing work that interests me, and spending time with people with whom I’m comfortable. Sometimes I’m able to clear the tired fog from my mind, say goodbye to Riley, and step outside into the cool morning air before giving it a second thought.

Other times, it’s sounds more like a personal admonishment of “Susan, get your foot out that damned door.”

On the weekends, I tend to hibernate, hiding under the covers in my room and giving into the fatigue or curling up on the couch with movies or a book or my laptop. I make evening plans out with good friends; I think of all the errands I should be running in the free afternoons — groceries to buy, items to return. I think of all the places I could go and the people I could see, and I’m excited and eager until that time approaches and excitement turns to an inexplicable discomfort.

And I don’t know where it’s coming from.

Once upon a time, when I was tackling my anxiety disorder back in high school, there were days when that fear kept me cemented in place. I would force myself out the door and drive out of my neighborhood, only to turn back around, park my car in the driveway, and run into the house in a fitful of tears. I was afraid to leave the house then, so consumed by panic that something would happen while I was away from my perceived comfort zone.

There are shades of the familiar here, and yet this feels different. Maybe it’s because I’m a different person than I was then; maybe it’s because I can now notice it for what it is. But this doesn’t have that familiar strain of panic; this doesn’t have those recognizable sensations of dread.

Still, I can’t figure out what keeps me indoors. Is it the cold and gloom of winter that makes me want to hibernate, where during the summer I’m all for spontaneous road trips, eager for long drives and adventure? Is it just this incredible fatigue and recent emotional upheaval that is burying everything else, masking and presenting itself as that familiar fear?

I’m not sure, but I do know that I’m trying my best to push through it in what feels like quiet personal victories.

This past weekend, a dear friend was celebrating her 30th birthday, inviting a few friends and myself out to dinner a couple of towns over. The thought of going somewhere I’d never been filled me with unease rather than the thrill of discovering someplace new.

Susan, you went to France for three weeks, remember that? I tried to tell myself, you navigated a foreign country on your own. Surely you can go to dinner and help a friend celebrate. And if you get lost, you find your way again.

I got lost. I found my way. I was so happy to be there for her.

Susan: 1. Irrational emotions: 0.

A couple of weeks ago I eagerly accepted an invitation for a local tweetup after work. It had been a long, long time since I’d been to one, and I was looking forward to meeting many of the new faces with whom I’d been conversing online for months.

Yesterday dragged by slowly, and as the day wore on, familiar thoughts began to invade: What if I can’t find a parking space? What if I’m not feeling well enough? What if I don’t have anything to say to anyone? What if it’s uncomfortable when we meet? What if, what if, what if.

Susan, you love meeting new people. And, Susan, you always have something to say. You’ll find a parking spot, you’ll excuse yourself and go home when you feel tired, and you’ll enjoy yourself when you’re there.

I found a parking spot. I met some great new people and saw old friends. I had a blast.

Susan: 2. Irrational thoughts: 0.

I can’t fully explain what I’m feeling, nevermind even begin to figure out the reasons behind it, but I resolve not to let it keep me in hiding. I’m pushing through that, learning, yet again, how to emerge from my comfort zone and let life pleasantly surprise me.

One foot out the door at a time.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

greymous January 27, 2010

I wish you’d stop pulling your posts from inside my head! 🙂

Recently I’ve been doing quite a bit of that. Something comes up and my initial reaction is “Cool! We’ll go.” then it gets close and I start second, third and fourth guessing why I wanted to do it in the first place. I’ll look hard for reasons, all great well thought out reasons of course, for backing out of it.

You’re doing great with pushing through it. Keep it up and you’ll find you’ll have a lot more wins in that column!

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Susan Pogorzelski January 28, 2010

Ken: Sorry, sorry. But your mind is so interesting! 🙂 Actually, and I always say this because it’s true — while I’m so sorry that you have to go through the same thing because I know how awful it feels, in some way I’m also grateful that someone else can understand what’s going on. Truth be told, I don’t really understand it myself.

You described it exactly. Intitial excitement and high anticipation, but then the closer it gets, the more you start thinking of excuses to back out of it and all the reasons why you shouldn’t go. Sometimes those excuses are legit and great and you even manage to convince yourself that they’re true. But in the end, they end up being just that — excuses.

Here’s hoping that we can both keep pushing through that. Here’s rooting for you, too 🙂 Thanks, Ken!

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Positively Present January 27, 2010

YAY! I love this post! 🙂 It’s awesome and very uplifting! Keep up all of the great work you’re doing on your personal development.

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Susan Pogorzelski January 28, 2010

Dani: I so appreciate your enthusiasm and support! Thanks so much for always being here, sticking by. That always means more than you could know 🙂

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Sam January 27, 2010

I agree with the previous comments, you are doing great! I think that even if you don’t have an anxiety disorder anymore, you may still have some of that lingering uneasiness. I’ve learned that only so much can be done with medicine, and after that, it’s up to us to show our emotions and anxious thoughts who is in charge. (We are!) It’s a process, so don’t rush yourself. Like you said, one foot out the door at a time. Just don’t let that foot sneak back in when you’re not looking! Great post 🙂

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Susan Pogorzelski January 28, 2010

Sam: I completely agree that there’s something that’s lingering, and while it feels so different this time, it also feels familiar. Way back when I refused to let it keep me from going away to college. Last year, I refused to back down and let my fears keep me from going to France. I think you’re absolutely right — I think there comes a point where we need to take control and show it who’s boss!

I hope that I can continue to do things out of love and friendship and wanting to do things, rather than holding back out of fear.

And I love how you say “don’t let that foot sneak back in when you’re not looking.” I’ll definitely keep an eye on that! 🙂

Thanks, Sam, as always, for your friendship and support!

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Beth January 28, 2010

Yay! Another Susan post! I was missing you since you haven’t posted in awhile. I think we all sometimes have those feelings of insecurity, and it’s great that you can express them here. I am an introvert until I get to know people, and I can see how you could think of all of the obstacles that could get in your way before even getting out the door. I really appreciate this post, and am glad you made it and had a good time!

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Susan Pogorzelski January 28, 2010

Beth! Why do I feel like I only get to talk to you in blog comments? We need to change that very soon 🙂 Thanks for this comment — it’s funny that you say you’re an introvert until you get to know someone because I tend to be the same way. I kind of like to hang back and get a feel for the person (or even a feel for the room if in a large crowd) rather than just jumping in. I wonder if it’s because that prepares you. I wonder if that has something to do with these feelings of unease — because in these situations you can’t really prepare, you do just have to jump in.

Maybe, as much as I want to be in control, it’s about letting go of that. Maybe we can stay in control of ourselves like Sam suggests above while letting go a little bit at the same time.

Interesting…You obviously sparked some great thoughs, so thanks for that. And thanks, as always, for your comment! 🙂

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beckywoodh January 28, 2010

Me too. I never thought I would have to struggle like this. The fight is exhausting and even when I win by accomplishing something, it feels like a hollow victory because the struggle existed to begin with. And, since my nerves go straight to my stomache, I have struggles with food and have to force myself to eat. The other day I literally cried saying, “I don’t have to be *afraid* to eat!” People don’t understand unless they’ve been there… Thank you for reminding not to discount the victories!

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Susan Pogorzelski January 28, 2010

Becky: When I was still trying to find a diagnosis when I was sick a few months ago, someone said to me “you don’t have to live like this.” I started crying — because I’d lived like this for so long. To hear that I didn’t have to, to hear that there was someone out there who was willing to listen to me and help me, was the greatest relief.

You shouldn’t have to live like this. You shouldn’t have to be afraid. And yet, sometimes you still are. What I’m learning, and what I hope for you, is to take it day by day, to never forget even the smallest accomplishments, because those lead the way to even greater victories.

Thanks for being here, Becky, and thanks for sharing your story as well. And, didn’t I see that you had a birthday this week? Happy, happy birthday! 🙂

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Amanda Linehan January 28, 2010

Hi Susan – Those irrational emotions are tough opponents. Glad to see you are undefeated against them (in this post anyways 😉 ). I guess happiness does not just come to us by putting our hands out and looking hopeful. It always involves putting yourself out there. I think a prerequisite to happiness is courage. 🙂

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Susan Pogorzelski January 28, 2010

Amanda: Your Fear Energy vs. Love Energy was such a huge inspiration for me when I read it. In fact, I determined on Saturday to go out of love to my friend’s celebration, not to hold back out of fear. That was thanks to you. Like I said in response to your post — I want more love energy in my life. I think if I looked at these perceived obstacles that way, some incredible things will begin to happen. So thanks so much for that post.

And thanks for this comment. It’s an interesting thought that you have to work for happiness…at least, in the beginning. Maybe it gets easier the more it comes. 🙂

Thanks, Amanda!

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Lyssa February 5, 2010

Susan, it’s funny that I happen to read this tonight, b/c I haven’t much time to catch up on anyone’s blog lately b/c of a busy life, but I’m home sick with a cold and wanted to read up on yours 🙂 I went through a sort of similar situation tonight myself. You and I have talked about our anxious tendencies before, but your post reminded me of myself tonight when I was driving through town by myself and realized I was hungry. I wanted so badly to try the Thai restaurant in town I’ve never been to (there are 2, and I usually go to the other), but I was alone, and I felt like I couldn’t go in to this new place all by myself to even order take out! How absurd, right? I drove around the surrounding blocks twice before I finally pulled in and ordered, and I’m so glad I did. Why these irrational fears? What’s the worst that could happen? Anyway, your post was comforting tonight, but I feel bad that you have to go through similar things.

I find the more I push myself to do the things of which I am absolutely terrified (traveling on the road for my job, learning to ride the NYC subway all by myself, etc) that the less I am scared and the more self-esteem I garner for the future. 🙂

Love you, Susan. Hope we can catch up soon.

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Susan Pogorzelski February 7, 2010

Lyssa! I love hearing from you 🙂 I think that’s it exactly. Life is all about taking these little steps and while leaving the house for work or trying a new restaurant may not seem like a victory to some (or most), for those who struggle with anxiety and fear, it’s an accomplishment all its own. The fact is — these fears are irrational. What is the worst that can happen? And yet, it’s that unknown and uncertainty that holds us back.

I’m so glad you’re pushing through these fears yourself, I think that’s so important. The more you do, the more you realize you can do. And that can make all the difference. I’m so proud of you, and I’m always here for you. So much love, Lys!

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