Group Therapy Thursday: Week Three
If I had one wish right now, it would be this: to live the rest of my life free from regret. Specifically, regret fueled by fear. I’m very good at coming up with reasons why I shouldn’t challenge myself. It’s not the right time…. Tomorrow is another day…. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be…. This isn’t something that I really needed to do, anyway…. Oh, I could go on all day long making excuses as to why I shouldn’t push myself out of my safety zone, but it all comes back to the one thing I’m really doing – making excuses because I’m afraid.
My Comfort Zone Challenge:
There is a really nice, very personable woman who works at the doggie daycare place where we board Brulee and Emmie. Whenever we drop the dogs off, whether for the day or for the week, ‘Pam’ is always there with a smile and a kind word. Mind you, we’ve been taking Brulee there for over 5 years so I’ve seen and talked with Pam many times. We have a lot in common, and so I got this great idea that I should ask her out for lunch. Simple task? For me, absolutely not. Initiating any kind of casual get-together with someone I barely know is an excruciating task for me. Who doesn’t have a fear of rejection? Of putting yourself out on the line? The thought of a potentially awkward silence followed by a possible ‘Um, no thank you’ as the outcome? Ugh. Just thinking of it gives me a gut ache.
Yet, I’ve been thinking about asking her for a couple of months but always found excuses not to. I was afraid of feeling rejected. Of looking desperate. Oh, who knows what else. Anxiety-driven minds are good at producing loads of unrealistic scenarios. Long story short, a few weeks ago I got up enough nerve to email the doggie daycare owner and ask for Pam’s email address. Yes! I thought. Email, I can do! Except that I neither received a response from the owner OR from Pam.
So, I asked my husband,’What do you think that means?’ He said, ‘I think it means that the owner probably forgot to mention it to Pam. You know chaotic things are over there.’ Okay, yes. That could be a possibility. So, a couple more weeks pass along until my husband loads up the dogs to take them to camp for a day. Hey….I know! I’ll have hubby do my dirty work for me! I instruct my husband to mention to Pam that I’d like to take her out to lunch sometime as he casually passes the dogs off to her, which he does.
‘What did she say?’ I ask. ‘She said that sounded like a great idea and that she’d tie her phone number around Brulee’s leash before I pick them up after work.’ Great! That worked out pretty well, right?
But it didn’t. There was no phone number on the leash when the dogs came home that night.
So, just to make sure you’re all caught up – this makes two failed attempts at what should have been a very simple task if it had been performed the correct way – by me in person. Instead I was left with these nagging questions: did she get my request for her email and ignore it? Did she absentmindedly forget to attach her phone number, or did she deliberately forget? Maybe she just doesn’t want to have lunch with me. I was starting to become embarrassed by the whole thing (I’m not in grade school after all – adults do these kinds of things all the time, dammit!!) Yet, as time passed I was finding excuses not to go there to pick up items for the dogs. I was having my husband do it, instead. This situation I’d created was starting to control me. Uh-uh. I cannot have any of that.
So, what am I going to do? Refuse to go into this place ever again because of this one thing? No, I am not. I am going to do what I should have done in the first place. I’m going to drive over there and ask her out to lunch, face to face.
Yep. That’s what I’m going to do. The dogs need food anyway.
Cue to the present. This week’s challenge.
Before I allowed my mind to talk me out of it, I got into the car and drove over there. I put my brain on auto-pilot and refused to think of anything else other than what I was going to say. I’d have plenty of time to think about it afterwards, anyway.
When I walked in through the door, Pam was there taking some information from a customer. I went straight over to the dog food.
it was extremely chaotic. There were dogs both coming and going, there was barking and slobbering and licking and people shopping in the doggie boutique - and I wasn’t even sure if I’d get the chance to speak with her. After a few moments I started becoming seriously anxious and decided to pay for my dog food and just leave. That’s when she came up behind me and said, ‘Hi!’ I turned around and she gave me a hug. ‘Hi!’ I said.
We chatted for a few minutes and then right before she left to get back to work I said, ‘I’ve been meaning to ask you if you’d like to go out for lunch sometime.’ She said, ‘Oh, I know – that’s what your husband said.’ …Pause… I said, ‘I know how busy you are, but if you ever get a free moment and would like to go out, just give me a call.’ She said, ‘Yeah, I am crazy busy right now.’ We chatted for a few moments more and then she had to get back to work so I paid for my dog food and then left.
Now, I know that some of you may be thinking, ‘That sure didn’t sound like a satisfying ending.’ Well, in a way it wasn’t. It would have been nice if she’d sounded a little more willing but you know, I took it a lot better than I thought I would. It didn’t devastate me. It didn’t leave me feeling like a loser who can’t acquire any friends on her own. I’m sorry that Pam didn’t want to have lunch with me but honestly, it’s really okay. I’m just so happy that I finally stopped using excuses, went out there, and took a chance. That’s the important thing.
There isn’t always going to be a happy ending every time I challenge myself because life just doesn’t work that way. But if there was ever a time when I needed an exercise to go hand-in-hand with the positive reinforcement sheet I’ve been using all month, this was it. If I hadn’t been practicing my affirmations, I could have easily berated myself over what happened. All kinds of unhealthy thoughts and feelings would have likely flowed into my mind after my offer was declined. But none did. I didn’t allow it.
Those words of light really do stick if you say them enough. It’s amazing, but they really do.
I’m looking forward to reading about how you did this week. Have a good session, everyone.