Doom, comfort, and stompy boots (a dialogue)

Coming up later this week I have a minor medical procedure…something that I knew I needed to think about carefully and clearly this week. As it so happens, said careful and clear thinking didn’t happen until today, when I realized I’d been sitting around all day worrying and not acknowledging the worry. Emergency clarity needed! Ack! So I sat down to have a conversation with myself.

Thursday! Doom! Needles! Ahhhhhhh!

Me: Self, how are you feeling about Thursday?

Self: Scared, scared, scared!

Me: interesting. Why isn’t the familiarity of this procedure a comfort?

Self: Because now I know exactly how much it will hurt! Anticipation is awful!

Me: I see. That doesn’t sound fun. However, if we’re familiar with the pain, what else are we familiar with?

Self: There’s a trade-off, I guess…because the office and the procedure room will be more familiar, which is a good thing. So just being there won’t cause as much nervousness.

Me: Wonderful. That is a good thing.

Self: Yeah, but I’m so used to familiar things being good and safe – and this time that’s not true. The whole idea of familiar things being scary is REALLY hard.

The phantom in the room

Me: I’m sorry it’s hard.  It sounds like this is pretty big…I wonder, does this particular procedure remind you of something else?

Self: YES! It makes me think about what will happen if I’m in labor again! So scary. Going through that pain? Again? So intense. Such a complicated thing, labor. So many what-ifs…

Me: Let’s remember that we don’t have to think about that right now. Our task is to think about Thursday. And to remember that the injection is an infinitely less complicated procedure.

Self: Okay. You’re right. And I can let go of the connection to the labor thing.

Me: Great! Goodbye to that!

Self: Goodbye! Come back later when it’s time to think about that!

More, more, more!

Self: I’m not done, though…I want more reassurance!

Me: Okay! One reassuring thing is that we can leave work early on Thursday if we need to. In fact I think we should plan on it.

Self: Yes! That would be helpful. I’m going to write that email right now to let people at work know…okay, sent!

Me: Good for you! Another reassuring thing: we will be able to pick up the anti-nervousness medication on Wednesday night after class, since we’ll be near the pharmacy already.

Self: But…well, that timing makes me nervous…what if the pharmacy can’t fulfill my prescription for some reason? Or…

Me: Hang on, we don’t even need to worry about that. You know why? Because it’s not our job to get the injection; it’s our job to be safe. So if we can’t get the medicine to feel safe, and we can’t find any at home, all we can do is reschedule the appointment.

Self: (Incredulous) Even if it means waiting another month before we can get back on the schedule?

Me: Even if. Safety is your first priority. And you know what —  if you’re feeling extra nervous on this, we could call the pharmacy tomorrow during the day, just to check.

Self: Safety is my first priority. Okay! But what else? I need more reassurances!

Me: How about this: you know that counting worked for you last time, so you can try that again, breathing and counting up and down from ten.

Self: Counting is easy. I feel relieved just thinking about it. You know, I’m feeling considerably less stressed about all this than I was before.

Me: I’m so glad to hear that. Can you tell me three things you will do to feel safe?

Self: Wear my pajamas again. Hold K’s hand again, and ask him to be in charge of the paperwork. And bring an emergency painkiller with me to take if the anticipation of pain is crowding my thoughts before I go in.

Me: Excellent. I know you can do this!

Warning: floating head syndrome

Self: Wait, wait, wait…knowing all this isn’t helping because I’m still feeling really nervous! It’s like a scratchy swollen hot feeling around my throat. And a buzzing in my stomach. And it feels like…my ears are dizzy. That doesn’t even make sense! Ugh.

Me: I think this is your body asking for more attention. How long has the anxiousness and the reluctance to think about this been sitting with you?

Self: ALL DAMN DAY! Maybe even all week!!

Me: Aha…maybe that’s the reason for the scratchiness and the buzzing and the dizziness. But listen, for starters let’s go ahead and acknowledge that the anxiousness is not going to go away completely until after the procedure is done.

Self: (Wailing) I don’t want that to be true!

Me: I know it sucks, sweetie, but it’s going to suck a lot less if you accept that this is how you’re feeling right now.

Self: (Very grumpy) Alright, but I get to stomp in my very stompy boots about this! As much as I want!

Me: Permission granted! As long as you’re stomping, I recommend you do lots of good grounding things with your body tonight, to get connected after this day of floaty weird anxiety.

Self: (Rolls eyes) Whatever, hippie. I’ll do some grounding…stuff. Later.

Me: (Gently) It’ll work even better if you really commit to it. Name three things.

Self: Okay, OKAY. After I finish stomping my boots, I will make myself a force field before I go home today, maybe some quick Shiva Nata. Then I will take a walk with the baby tonight and maybe go swing in the swings at the park. And I will roll around on the floor and stretch and do hip openers.

Me: How do you feel now?

Self: Less buzzy and dizzy, for sure. I think I need to go make my force field and go home for the day.

Me: Excellent idea! Remember, be safe, no matter what!

Self: Gotcha. (Disappears)

So there you have it. Some scary things are not really fixable through good, conscious self-talk and gentleness. And I’m learning to be okay with that. But the most important lesson, I think, is to be wary of how the deferred figuring-out has such power to send me intense signals. As I wrote this, the buzzy and hot feelings kept interfering every time I tried to complete the dialogue, like my body wouldn’t rest until it made sure I really got the message! Interesting and cool. And thanks so much to the lovely Larisa whose amazing Story of the Floating Head made me think of this particular metaphor today to describe how it felt to be in that place of anxiety, disconnected from my self.

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About jesse k.

Writer. Mama. Spy in the house of self-awareness. Occasional crafter, letterpress geek, and academic snob.
This entry was posted in Interview With A Mirror, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Doom, comfort, and stompy boots (a dialogue)

  1. Larisa says:

    Aw. Wishing you so much comfort and ease over the next couple of days. I’ll make certain to think kindly of you on Thursday. 🙂 And, love hearing that my floating head metaphor was helpful. Can’t wait to see you in person on Friday!

    • jesse k. says:

      Thank you so much, Larisa! I didn’t realize your metaphor was so powerful until I realized that was exactly why all those bizarre sensations kept showing up.

      I can’t wait till Friday, too!

  2. Sharon says:

    Hi Jesse, I have noted both of your comments on The Pragmatic Hybrid and then hopped over to your blog. This whole blog thing is relatively new to this not so computer savvy crone but I am getting the hang of it. I loved the way you addressed the inner dialogs and still came out on the other end knowing which part of yourself tended to nurture the anxiety that comes with dealing with uncomfortable and truly painful things. Living in doctor’s office has become part of my story and so I could relate only too well and just this morning had to deep breathe myself to be able just to get blood taken after 3 sticks. I see also that you are acquainted with Havi, whom I met this summer and had the priviledge of taking daily Shiva Nata sessions and yoga with. It is indeed a small world.

    • jesse k. says:

      Hi Sharon, thanks for stopping by! Inner dialogues have become a really helpful tool for me (another thing learned from Havi!), especially when I can’t really figure out what I’m feeling at first…gentle exploration is easier when I write it out, I suppose.

      I definitely relate to the blood stick issue…I do major preparation and self-care work before almost everything medical.

      Were you at Jen and Havi’s retreat in Taos? I read Havi’s e-book that she wrote there (I think it’s not available yet for all to purchase but will be soon) and it was fun to visit the retreat vicariously. It sounds like a lovely place and an amazing experience 🙂

  3. Sharon says:

    Yes, I was at the retreat in Taos. My second one and it was wonderful. The relationships that I have been able to make with women I met there are some of the most precious of my life. They are now my close friends – my muses – spirit guides and girlfriend supporters.
    Getting to know people on the web is really new for me and I must say, I feel like I am in a graduate program because every day I am exposed to new thoughts and ideas, not to mention wonderful resources.
    I am working on getting a blog together and up and going so that my one more voice can contribute to the healing of the world.
    So pleased to meet you and I really do love your work here.

  4. Pingback: Getting unstuck about that thing I want to talk about | my seed house

  5. Pingback: Friday check-in: conspiracy edition! | my seed house

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