I have always suffered with separation anxiety and still do as an adult but slowly slowly I am finding my way through the complex maze that is this condition.
For me the anxiety is that bad that I haven’t wanted my husband to go out to the corner shop or the doctors without me. I have trailed along here, there and everywhere because I have been too afraid to be by myself.
I have wanted to change but just haven’t been able to make that first step.
But this year I decided to have a play with the anxiety, to try to test its boundaries and get inside it to find its heart.
The first thing I decided to do was to make sure my husband recognises it as a real problem. If we run out of onions and he says “I could always go up the corner shop but there again you probably won’t let me out.” then we have lost before we have started. In the same way if he goes out and comes back 10 minutes later and I say I struggled and he laughs because to him it is funny to miss someone in such a short time, then we have no where to go from here. I feel humiliated and guilty and the pattern starts once more. I must say at this point that my husband is possibly the kindest man on the planet so if he has misunderstood my needs I know it is because he is human.
So . . I explained to my husband that the anxiety is obviously a problem, otherwise we would have had a very different lifestyle a long time ago.
Next I decided on a realistic step. When I look out of my work room at home I can see into the next street (a gap between some houses) and by road this a 10 minute walk from our house. I thought it would be fun if my husband walked to that spot and then waves at me. We tried to add the fun of the tracker on his phone but unfortunately we couldn’t get this to work. My husband left the house, I timed 10 minutes and then sure enough there he was waving at me from our chosen spot.
How did I feel in those 10 minutes? Empowered, confident, happy!
Where do I go from here? I don’t know yet? I gave up guilt when I admitted I had the condition and so there is no standard to achieve for me to feel good enough. We will go where the adventure takes us.
The important elements in taking that first step were HONESTY, SINCERITY, KNOWING AND ASKING FOR MY NEEDS, PLAYFULNESS . . . AND BEING PREPARED TO MOVE FORWARDS ONE STEP AT A TIME!
So . . what is at the heart of separation anxiety . . . . I think, a feeling that you are silly because you don’t like being by yourself!