I had been making progress in therapy and I felt confident and more accepting of myself. Margaret had shown me a technique called Emotional Freedom Tapping. You say a phrase and then tap along pressure points in your face to try to release emotion.
I had been starting with a phrase that Margaret had helped me come up with, “Even though I can obsess about things sometimes, I totally love and accept myself,” or, “…I am starting to love and accept myself.” She recommended that if what I was affirming didn’t resonate well that adding a “starting” at the beginning could be really helpful. Instead of saying I totally love and accept myself, I said I’m starting to love and accept myself and it felt better, like it was actually doing something in my body.
Other sessions I started with, even though I feel-fill in the blank- I’m starting to accept myself because starting to accept AND love myself didn’t feel true, just yet. I was really able to start getting emotions to flow this way. Instead of just staying obsessive in my thoughts, I was finally able to feel some of the emotions that I had been pushing away for years.
It helped a lot. I would say my starting phrase, and then go to the first pressure point on the top of my head and tap 7 to 8 times. I would say things like, I obsess about Lauren and what she thinks about me, going to my next pressure point above my eyebrow, I obsess what other people in the lab think about me, and I would go into specifics of things that happened that day or that week. Other times I was more general about what I would obsess about.
Margaret suggested I start with a phrase like, “even though I don’t know what I’m doing or feel insecure I am starting to know how to feel secure about myself by myself.” Or, “Even though I depend on what other people think of me for my self-worth, I am starting to depend on what I think of me. Then I’d go down my pressure points and say whose thoughts I depended on. I realized it was okay for me to be a little on the bitchy side towards Lauren occasionally. Regret it and learn from it and move on. It was okay for me to give her a little more of my energy some days than I wanted to, learn from it and move on still.
One day, I had been having a remarkably positive day. It wasn’t like what a normal day had been, as of late, with feelings of panic and insecurity. My confidence was finally starting to build. I had done my last bathroom trip of the day and was going back to my desk to gather up my things and head out. I heard Lauren and Angela talking as I was entering the room. I heard the word ‘carpooling’ and my alert was automatically up. Lauren and I had completely stopped carpooling together for at least a couple of weeks, maybe more.
I got to my desk and Lauren turned towards me. We hadn’t talked so much as more than a couple of words to each other since the day she had called me a snap-back girl and had said that it was obvious why no one ever liked me.
“Yeah is that why we don’t carpool anymore?” She turned and asked me, sarcastically, yet aggressively.
“What?” I shot back, lightheartedly.
“Because you think I’m a bad driver?” Oh, some funny conversation they had been having, okay, I’ll play along, I thought.
“If anything I’m the bad driver Lauren.” Diverting the conversation away from why we hadn’t actually carpooled together.
Angela said something to fill in the conversation.
But Lauren, not satisfied with my redirection quickly turned it back to me. And said, “so that is why we don’t carpool anymore?” Again weirdly aggressive.
Ball was in my court.
“No, you’re a perfectly good driver, Lauren,” I said reassuringly and promptyly ending the conversation.
I wasn’t about to tell her, in front of Angela, why we hadn’t been carpooling any longer. She must of already had an idea anyways? For a moment, I could tell that she was temporarily off kilter and taken by surprise that I was affirming myself and how I wanted to deal with the conversation I found in front of me.
She had assumed that I would crack under the pressure like I had so many times before. She was used to controlling our conversations. She gave me two options and I was to pick one of them.
Either spill my guts about feeling uncomfortable driving with her or feign some other lame excuse about liking to drive on my own. Both of those, I knew, could only be followed up with more ways to make me feel inadequate about myself.
She hadn’t yet realized that I was capable of creating a third option for myself. Ball was in my court, but I realized, a little too triumphantly admittedly, that I didn’t have to even pick it up.
I was feeling okay for the first time with having a falling out with Lauren. I was feeling like I was learning for the first time how to navigate these waters of life. I needed to constantly remind myself that this was the first time I was in this kind of situation and it was okay for me to make mistakes and learn as I went. It was okay for me to stumble and not so gracefully stand up for myself and stand in my power. I was progressing and learning to love myself. It not only was okay, I realized, it was the work of my life.