RMy therapist and I concentrate on two things: feelings of failure and responding to what is actually happening now, not what might happen or that catastrophe thinking my mind is so good at generating.
For awhile it seemed as if I was unable to view my life as anything but a series of failures. The thing is, there will always be failures. It's how we learn. Some people refer to it more kindly as *trial and error.*
However, when every failure gets tied into a chain of failures, it's not long before we find ourselves unable to take any kind of action at all and a kind of mild catatonia coupled with high anxiety sets in. Of course, taking no action at all is a kind of failure in itself, I suppose. But I found myself pulling farther and farther away, inward. In truth, I shut down.
We are working hard to remove the word *failure* from my vocabulary. It's a slow process and, of course, no matter how hard we try, there will be those in our lives only too happy to remind us of our failures. Still, we're attempting to reframe my thinking into something more positive. Slowly. So every action and every non-action and every emotional response is a way of discovering who I really am. It's a starting over process, I suppose, to match the trans-Atlantic move of 8 months ago which was also a starting over process but one I quickly became overwhelmed by. Hence, the therapist.
Because I am an adult woman who was once an abused little girl, I learned early on that hyper vigilance was a survival skill. Unfortunately, as an adult it is not always helpful. Planning for possible catastrophes leaves you in a state of high anxiety and means that ultimately you don't have the energy to respond to what is happening in the present. And, let's face it, sometimes bad things happen: you get sick, you pick the wrong roommate, you lose your job because you're sick for too long, you find that becoming an American after living abroad for thirteen years is not only harder than you thought but also requires much jumping through hoops you were unprepared to jump through, that people you trust will hurt you when you least expect it. All you have is your ability to respond in a cognitive, rational thinking way. I'm still working on that too.
And with that, and maybe the most important part, is acknowledging your successes, even the tiny baby step ones. Also, I am loved by many and emotionally supported by many, so very many people are there to catch me when I start to fall. One friend told me I was a masterpiece being slowly restored. So every little success is one more brush stroke closer to healing and recovery and restoration.
I try to remember that.