When I first started seeing a counselor, and even up into that first year, I made almost no true progress in overcoming my phobia and anxiety. It was a lot of finding my footing on this already uneven ground, and hoping that at some point I’d manage to either find my way to solid land or learn to walk on the broken concrete.
Of course, I remember how proud I was at the end of my first year of counseling. I had gone from 90% constant anxiety to about 75% constant anxiety. That was huge for me, but in the grand scheme of things it really wasn’t much, especially where I’ve gone in the short time I’ve been doing EMDR. But that is a tale for a different day.
One of the biggest moments for me, the breaking through point if you will, was when I finally surrendered to the idea that I believed I was my emetophobia. That I was consumed, day in-day out by negative, toxic thoughts that controlled my every action. It wasn’t until I was able to look myself in the mirror and go, “This phobia is not me, but it’s destroying me” that I was truly able to start recovery.
I’ve talked in the past about how identifying ourselves as emetophobia can be difficult to overcome. If I spend my whole life being Chelsie with Emetophobia, who am I when the emetophobia is gone? Who is Chelsie? That worry, anxiety and fear that comes with losing the one thing we’ve grown to identify with can be enough to stop someone from achieving peace of mind. So much so, that you may not even realize you are doing it.
This is something I’ve been dealing with firsthand with my most recent EMDR sessions. As I talked about in a past Dear Diary, I was going to begin tackling shame I had revolving around a series of past events. These memories were difficult for me to face, even just in thought, and I didn’t want to remember them.
Then there was this part of me that said, no I want to get over it. I want to be rid of the ball and chain that is holding me down. But lo and behold, there was this voice: if I get rid of this shame, if I get rid of the anxiety, what will I be? Who will I be? What will fill that void? For the longest time I let that voice win, but not anymore.
I realized, after four years of weekly or biweekly counseling sessions, the most important rule about overcoming anxiety, fear, phobias, the likes: You cannot change what you refuse to confront.
Read that again.
You cannot change what you refuse to confront.
It’s a powerful message, and isn’t as simple as just facing your fear head on, literally. Overcoming fears, anxiety and panic all start with one piece of the puzzle.
You. Your mind, your thoughts, your view of yourself.
RuPaul has a great quote that goes: If you can’t love yourself, then how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? I’m sure you’re wondering what that has to do with confronting your fears, or refusing to change. The answer is simple. Self love.
Self love is often an overlooked part of therapy, and something that no therapist can make happen unless you let it happen. More times than not, and it was true for me as well, the road to recovery started with learning to love myself, my whole self, even just a small bit more than I did prior to counseling. It became a journey of confronting who I was when I talked to myself; who I was when the pieces weren’t exactly falling into place or I had screwed up.
I had to learn to take a good, hard look into the mirror and open my eyes to the parts of me that were holding me back from flourishing. The Cure Your Emetophobia & Thrive book speaks a lot about how everyone views the world differently. Hundreds of people will look at one moment in time, and probably see it in hundreds of different ways. How we view the world, at least in my opinion, is hugely impacted by how we view ourselves.
If we are unhappy with ourselves, our lives and our situation, we tend to view the world in similar ways – negative and pessimistic. However, when we view ourselves with more optimism and hope, the world tends to be a brighter place.
When you change the way you look at yourself, the world slowly begins to change before you. And before you can confront any big problems, anxieties or phobias plaguing your life, you have to confront the biggest obstacle you have: yourself.
I’m sure at this point I’ve rambled on, made no sense and probably confused the heck out of you. I had such a great vision for this post, but it got lost in the inner workings of my brain. So I’ll just TL;DR it for you:
You cannot change what you refuse to confront. That is more than just facing your biggest fears, but facing yourself too. You have to learn to accept yourself, for your flaws, your wrong doings. You need to be able to recognize that sometimes our biggest obstacle is our self, and take the time to look inwards and face the scariest parts. Overcoming fears and anxieties are hard, but if we cannot confront our own negative thoughts about ourselves, recovery cannot start, because at a subconscious level we have put up a wall that is unbreakable.
Change starts with first confronting who we’d rather not believe we are, and moving towards the direction of who we know we can be.
Until next time Internet.
If you would like to email me, you can send any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will do my best to respond to you within 48 hours, but if for some reason I cannot get back to you in that time frame, I promise I will always respond as soon as possible. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!
Lastly, I run an Emetophobia Support Group on Facebook. Emetophobia is the intense and irrational fear of throwing up, and it is one struggle I am passionately engaged in. The group is a closed, by request only group to help facilitate sharing and support by all members. It is also private, meaning that the posts you and others make will not show up publicly in your newsfeed.