So if you remember, at 31 years old and being a mom, I decided to become a doctor. This decision challenged my life in every possible way, one of which involved me facing an old teenage crush, whose name was Lucas, whom I called to set up an interview.
Following that call to Lucas, I released my anxiety under the shape of diarrhoea. A colleague of mine stared at me, inspecting my drained appearance. “I must have eaten something off; not feeling great!” I tried to justify. He grinned with compassion and suggested I took the rest of the afternoon, he would cover for me. I didn’t wait a second and ran to my uni friend, Christina.
Despite being generally negative, she was my self-development counselor.
“We have two hours to sort me out for this interview” I warned Christina, as I stepped into her penthouse. Christina and I attended LSE together with Lewa. Soon after graduation, she became pregnant and decided to stay at home for her child. Since then, she had another 2. She lived with her husband she barely encountered, but he was earning a great income to support her. She enjoyed undertaking training for the sake of knowledge but not to earn a living from it. Learning was her favourite hobby. A couple of years ago, she followed a counseling training; I was her only “client”.
“it’s never going to work in two hours.” Didn’t I just say she was negative?
“So let’s not waste any more time.” As I comfortably sat on her sofa, she brought her notes, reluctant.
Breaking the cycle of feelings
- Identify the feelings and the source
“So Lucas? Describe me your feelings when you think about him.” She asked with a serious tone, meaning we were now in a counselor/client meeting and no longer two long-term friends chatting.
I didn’t know how to answer that question. Have you ever tried to decipher and describe with specific words your feelings towards someone else? I hardly found a couple of adjectives.
“Describe how you feel about him.” I quickly responded: ” He’s a dickhead.”
Christina rolled her eyes. “That’s not a feeling.”
I disagree, I feel he’s a genuine heartfelt dickhead.
“Even though many adjectives exist, we tend to come from a place of love or fear. Which one would you apply to Lucas?” What? That was it? Only two different feelings: fear or love.
“I certainly don’t love him. But I definitely don’t fear him.” I protested.
“It’s either one or the other.” She elaborated.
“How about feeling guilty?” I challenged. “It’s fear of doing something wrong” She quickly responded.
“And shame?” I added with a raised eyebrow.
“It’s fear of being judged” she winked at me knowing that she had scored a point. Could it really be that all of our feelings can be summarised down to two: FEAR OR LOVE?
- Identify the expectations
“Next question, what are your expectations towards him?” This question took me by surprise because I wasn’t expecting anything from him. I just shook my head.
“Are you sure you are not expecting an apology for what happened and the way he broke your heart?” my eyes lit up. “That would be indeed appropriate and appreciated.” I played in my head a scenario of how he would apologise to me.
“So you are feeling scared that he won’t apologise to you and that is driving you sick.” I wanted to protest against this statement but it screamed the truth. I felt anxious because I wanted him to recognise the pain he inflicted when he rejected me. I wanted him to feel bad about my broken heart. I wanted him to feel guilty.
- Addressing the sh$£@..t
“You are not going to like what I am about to say…” She started.
“Well, I am not sure I want to hear it.” I continued, looking worried.
“You said you wanted to address your flaws.” She countered, not even trying to reassure me. And she resumed anyway.
“Your expectation of an apology… it’s not gonna happen.”
My soul screamed why. Wasn’t I worth an apology? My anxiety level just suddenly rose and the diarrhoea wasn’t far.
“Should I continue? You seem upset.” She dared to ask. “It’s painful, but it’s time to address this shit Olivia and you know it.”
Of course, I knew.
“When you go shopping, do you feel like you have to apologise for choosing the tomatoes and not the carrots?” She threw at me.
I was following her analogy with a raised eyebrow. “Basically you are saying that Lucas had the right not to choose me and therefore I shouldn’t resent him.” She gasped, happy to realise I was making progress. This whole situation just meant that Lucas didn’t like the carrots I was proposing, it did not imply the carrots were intrinsically wrong.
“Huh… interesting angle Christina.” I admitted.
- Staying in the present
“Because you’re still processing this new angle of the story, on your way there, I want you to focus on your immediate surrounding. Just describe in your head or write in a notebook everything you see until you sit in front of him. And then, notice every flaw he might demonstrate.” I looked at her, puzzled, while she handed me a notebook.
“The objective is to keep your mind off of your unrealistic expectation that triggers real feelings making you sick. So this way you are trying to break the cycle.”
That’s why Christina convinced me to begin meditation, she found me being too restless and easily worried. However, I hadn’t been meditating lots lately, so keeping my thoughts in check would be another challenge.
But I was ready.
She waved me goodbye and, during my journey, I meticulously applied everything she said and felt at ease.
I reached the clinic and my thoughts wandered off to “expectations land.” My heart started to race…. No no no! I began counting the number of magazines on the table as I waited for him.
And there it was, my first encounter with Lucas.