Realization/ Confession: Agoraphobia
I'm sure I've mentioned this before but I have been diagnosed with agoraphobia. Agoraphobia literally translates to mean "fear of the marketplace" but is more accurately described as a fear of public spaces. The way I like to explain it is a fear of leaving the house.
There was a time when it was really bad and walking in front of an open window or to the mailbox terrified me. Sometimes I would have a panic attack while thinking about getting the mail and actually getting it would be the accomplishment of my day.
I know it sounds silly if you've never experienced panic attacks or anxiety but it was really terrifying for me. I've gotten much better at getting myself out of the house now, but I still get a little bit of a stress response if I know I need to be somewhere. I was thinking about this today because I've been feeling pretty anxious about all the things I've got planned in the next couple weeks and my goals and dreams in general. I really want to be involved in things and part of a community and I know that I can be, but it still takes a little bit of a motivational speech on my part to get myself out the door.
I'm not sure exactly how this realization came about but as I was calming myself down from thinking about going out later I realized that I've been interpreting my fear all wrong. I always thought of it as a fear that something bad would happen to me if I went out. I think that's how it was described to me or maybe I just assumed that beneath the irrational anxiety was a sense that someone or thing would come after me. I never could figure out what that thing or person was or what they could do that scared me so much: the thought of someone attacking me doesn't scare me nearly as much as the thought of someone simply looking at me.
Suddenly I realized I'm not afraid of someone doing something to me. I'm afraid of myself. I have a deeply ingrained fear that I am bad and I am terrified that by going out I will infect the world with my "badness". It might not seem like a big revelation since either way I'm scared to go out, but it is because it gives me something to work on. Maybe the reason the usual techniques I've been given for overcoming this fear haven't been effective is because they are based on the premise that my fear is derived from an overly active mode of self-preservation, when in reality it is caused by an extremely low feeling of self-worth and a lot of guilt.
Deep, deep down, even though I've been working to uproot it, I have a strong belief that I do not deserve to be here and that no matter what I do I can't deserve it. The price of my existence will always be higher than the value I add to the world by being in it. This has been an underlying paradigm that has shaped a huge part of my life without me fully being conscious of it. It has nothing to do with anything anyone tells me or what I do or don't do; I feel guilty for eating, breathing and existing because this part of myself truly feels that I don't deserve to be here and every resource I take, I take from someone who deserves it more.
I am happy to figure this out though. Realizing it is a huge step for me, because once an unconscious belief becomes conscious it can be challenged and changed. In the past I would pick up so much guilt and not understand why, but now I can see where it is coming from. Now I need to work on letting it go.
That's all for now. I was mostly just excited to understand the connection because it's been bugging me.
Thanks for reading and listening to me.
Things will get better. :)