How Much Can You Handle?

Have you ever gone through a time in your life, when it seems the hits just keep on coming, one after the other?  It always seems to happen when life is going great.  Everything seems to be going smoothly, everybody is doing fine and then one thing happens, and another, and another, and another.  This was my last week.

Last weekend we found out that the sale of our townhouse in Hawaii had fallen through after an assessment.  This raised some questions, and I had to deal with the feeling that I had been punched in the gut.  Over the week we discovered there was a slow leak, there was damage to the downstairs apartment, the fix was going to cost approximately 15,000 dollars and that wasn’t the only thing that needed fixing.  Nathan and I no longer have credit card space to keep this place afloat.  We don’t have a renter, so we’ve been paying the mortgage and our current rent.  It’s already a lot.

To keep a complicated story short, I had several phone calls and emails over the week that brought on that feeling of terror that included my whole body shaking and numbness in my face.  My brain was having great difficulty computing this level of news.  Nobody had died, there was not real tragedy, but my brain was definitely interpreting this news as if my life was in extraordinary danger.

On top of all of this, I had made a commitment not to buffer.  In other words, I commit to not overeating and not drinking to cover my feelings.  This was all well and good when life was going pretty well, but on Tuesday this week I was in full on panic mode.  That was the day I got the bill for the leak and couldn’t remember if I had paid my homeowner’s insurance or not.  And I couldn’t get in touch with my insurance guy to find out for hours.

So, I sat on my couch in my office.  Then I scrolled facebook for a few minutes.  Then I just grabbed my keys and left.  I walked around the block in the heat.  I just walked and walked.  Then I sat in my car with the air conditioning on in the silence.  And I let it all in.  I was terrified.  And I was trying to push it away.  I decided not to, and just sat with the panic and the terror.  It felt awful and it lasted for an hour before I looked at my clock and realized that I was supposed to see a client 5 minutes before.  Luckily, he was a no-show that day and I called my friend, Joanna.  She lovingly asked if I needed her to go harass anyone for me, and as nice as that sounded, I really just needed to say the words out loud, “I am scared and I don’t know what to do.”  She listened, and that was all I needed.

My next client came in, and I was able to be present for her.  I could let her feel her own pain, because I had just sat and allowed my own.

And you guys.  I did not drink that night.  I did not have cookies or bread or crackers or sugar.  I had exactly what I planned on eating.  And it was fine.  I did this all week.  Bad news, allow feelings, stick to plan.  It’s been amazing.  I’ve learned so much about what I am capable of.

I’ve learned I can handle hearing bad news.

I’ve learned I can communicate bad news to my husband and allow him to have whatever feelings he needs to have about it.  It is not my job to protect him from his feelings and it was an immense relief to allow him to do his own work.  (Oddly,he is much better at handling his own feelings than I am, go figure)

I’ve learned that money is just math.  It is just numbers on a paper, that I can manipulate.  I can just look for money elsewhere to make up for the money that is needed.  Problem- solution.  No drama.

And I learned that I do not need flour, sugar, or alcohol to make me feel better.  I can handle any feeling that comes my way.

Mind. Blown.

Have you ever had a week like this?  Would you like to learn how to handle it without buffering?  Contact me, I am dying to help you.  I can’t believe I’m learning all of this now, at 36.


Author: Mary Preston, LMFT

I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Life Coach. Through dealing with my own anxiety and attention difficulties over the years I have discovered many useful practices and tools to help regain focus, shift my attention to what's important and to stay organized enough to get the life that I want. In my practice I work primarily with women and children with Anxiety, ADHD and Depression and I share what I've learned to get them back on track to living a full, purpose filled life.

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