I have a massage client that I saw for a few years before she moved out of state. I really like her and she periodically comes back to the area for various reasons. When she is in town, she gets in touch to set up an appointment. I’m always glad to hear from her and enjoy catching up. I think of her as a friend.
I recently got a message that she’ll be in town for a few days and my reflex response was anxiety. Why? The last time she was in town I was in a panic cycle. I distinctly remember sitting in my massage space, with the calming music and soft lighting, talking to her, trying to look and act normal while panicking. I was having cold sweats, one of my worst panic symptoms. She was telling me all about her work and her relationships, and I am genuinely interested, but my heart was racing and my brain was constantly distracted with thoughts of “I hope this doesn’t get worse”, “I hope she can’t tell I’m sweating”, “will I make it through the session without completely freaking out?” etc.
Even though I’m not in an active panic cycle right now (thank god), the thought of seeing her for a session immediately kicked up my heart rate and made me dread it in part of my mind. I hate that. Anxiety, I hate your tendency to come back as bad re-runs.
I respect my anxiety. Not in an “approval” way, in the way you respect a grizzly bear. I can’t forget how powerful anxiety and panic are – no mater how I may be feeling, it could come back when I least expect it. Sometimes I seem a bit more resistant to it’s power, other times I’m more vulnerable. What is really frustrating is that I don’t exactly know what determines my state. I can guess, but then I get surprised. For example, right now I have some pretty major stressors in my life. They are new stressors too. I would think this would make it more likely to kick me into a panic cycle, but so far it hasn’t happened (and I’m incredibly grateful.) It seems so incredibly random. Sadly, that makes it easier to fear.
Anyway, hopefully all will go well with her session. I’m trying to remind myself that association doesn’t mean certainty.