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No Choice But to Get Past the Fear and Lack of Confidence


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I'm starting a new journal because I am back on ENA after a long absence and, happily, I am in a committed relationship. I am sooooo thankful for that. Friends, it is possible to find someone who loves you for you. Hang in there, it gets better.


Of course, the problems that existed before the relationship don't go away. I am still insecure, depressed too often, still lacking in confidence, still panicked about some aspects of my life. Right now, I am terrified that I will lose my business. It has been such a tough struggle since the economy tanked. I'm thankful that I am still standing, business-wise -- I know that many have lost jobs and have had businesses fail. I am ashamed to say it, but sometimes I just want an excuse to give up. I am feeling burned out and tired. I need a break and I am getting sick of what I do, even though I know that it isn't the work that I hate, it is the constant struggle and knowing that even clients who have been with me for years will very possibly fire me at the drop of a hat if anything goes the slightest bit wrong, because many of them are also in tight financial situations with much pressure from their supervisors.


I know that when the going gets tough, the tough get going, right? Part of writing here again is to try somehow to jump start my energy level and self-esteem once again. It is getting tiresome. I've been going in business for many years now, but since the downturn I've had to pull myself up from great depths many times. For awhile, surviving gave me hope and courage. As a mentor pointed out to me -- you're still around! Look at all of the others that have failed in this business.... And I try to keep that in mind. But somehow all of the past successes get pushed aside in my brain, and all of the current trials--of which there are many--come to the forefront.


The triggering event for this journal was a client saying a lot of really crappy things to me. She accused me of a lot of things that she had no right to -- even her own employees spoke with me later and affirmed that. But somehow, I still feel completely awful about the things that she said -- about my work being substandard, accusing me of being dishonest, etc., etc. None of it true, all of it still, somehow, very painful to hear. And on top of that, since she has the most say, I am likely going to lose the contract with the company that she works for because she needs a scapegoat for her own company's failure, and I am the easiest target.


My wife, as I mentioned, is wonderful. She has comforted me through this tough little episode. But I don't want to be a sad sack or a clam every time that someone decides to take something out on me, or every time that my business ebbs. I want to be strong for her as much as I can, and to be there for her. I've had many times in my life when I've pitied myself or have wallowed in depression, and though it has never lost me a job or caused a serious life disaster, it has cost me a lot of friends. Perhaps a lot of opportunities.


How do I get past the lack of confidence that I feel? This is a journal, so I don't expect anyone to answer. But I welcome suggestions I am hoping that I have the discipline to stick with this journal long enough to meditate further on what I think the answers might be. Perhaps understand the root causes a little bit better?


Even if none of that happens, it feels good to write about it. Why does that feel good? Is it just getting it out of my system or off of my chest? Too many metaphors?


I have to keep going and not give up. I have fought so hard to stay alive. I need to do it for myself and my wife. I hope that I am up to these latest challenges. I just don't know what else I would do to maintain a good, steady income if I failed.


I have a meeting with the angry client in the morning, so I'm feeling a lot of anxiety tonight. Stomach acid is coming up into my throat as I write this. I lost my voice a bit today, probably for that reason. I've gained 10 pounds since the marriage, which doesn't help. I feel frozen, petrified by fear. It makes me crawl inside myself. I am afraid to touch anything around me for fear that I am going to lose my balance. It is a control thing. I know all of this, I am aware of all of this. Why can't I do more about it?


I am going to get up a little early and work a bit early tomorrow. That is all that I can think to do. To put in a bit more extra time to try to get more on top of things and to at least feel that I am making some progress. I need to have hope right now, and I don't know where to get it from. It sounds pathetic to my own ears but I feel like I am drowning and that I need someone to throw me a rope. I don't tell this to more than one or two friends in my life, because I know most people (understandably) don't want to hear it. I know that my wife is aware of it without me saying too much more than I already have, but I don't want to burden her with it. She has her own stresses and needs time to escape. I need to do better.

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I heard that quote from Aristotle the other day. It fits how I feel. Still feeling that the other shoe is about to drop. This sort of dread that I feel but don't know where it comes from. Like I am stuck in a problem that I can't solve. It is depression, and I'm back in it again.


I don't know where the escape from it is. I've considered many options lately, and over the years. Running to another town for a fresh start. Medication. Suicide. Getting a new haircut. Exercise. Meditation. Therapy. I am just writing it all down this time. Trying to turn what I feel inside into something outside that makes sense and has a purpose.


Ironically, I'm with someone now who will accept me for who I am. She asks only that I give her love and affection. I think that I can do that. But the depression gets in the way of that. When I'm in it, it is akin to a description that I heard someone give to addiction. The addicted person is never quite there. There is always a veil, something in the way. It always seems like that person would like to be somewhere else. And the person is wanting to be somewhere else. Somewhere where the drug is.


That is how I've been lately. I want to be with my partner, but I'm somewhere else. Usually at work, because that is where my worries reside as of late. I'm there trying to get out of the rut that I am in, emotionally and economically, trying to win back a greater sense of economic stability. A sense that I used to have that I am making progress and accomplishing something significant and larger than myself. I am throwing everything that I have at the problem but I feel that I am only wearing myself out.


I have to end on a positive note tonight. Have to. Won't be able to sleep if I don't end on a more hopeful note. At least I am continuing to push ahead. I have to believe that I can come out the other side if I keep marching onward -- that is the only thing that has always worked for me, and always will, until it doesn't. That thought will have to pass for positive tonight.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I went away for the weekend. As the weekend went on, I began to obsess more and more about the precarious state of my business. I began to dread going back to work on Monday. I wanted to stay away forever.


I talked to my wife about it, in both direct and roundabout ways: What if we moved away? What if we took a year off from work? What if we lived more modestly, so that we wouldn't have to have jobs that paid quite as much? What if my business goes down in flames? What if, what if, what if.


I'm a lucky man. In most past relationships, the person that I was with would have been pretty spooked by all of this. Understandably so. My wife is amazing, and is the type of person who is stable and yet is open to all of the possibilities that these questions posed. She is ready for my business to crash, for us to live more modestly, to take a year off -- basically, to do whatever it takes for us to continue to be happy and in love. I have her full support. Yet, I am the same person, and my self-confidence continued to wane during the weekend in relation to my growing anxiety. By this morning, I was in full panic mode, practically hyperventilating prior to getting out of bed.


Today was a special day for her. So, where I might have ordinarily shared a bit more of how I was feeling with her, I knew that it would be selfish. My panic was about work and my declining business load at first, then it began to spread and manifest itself in other ways. She wanted to go out and celebrate, and to try again today to have a baby. I felt paralyzed by my anxiety, and could not bear the thought of ruining her evening or not being able to make love to her.


Pleased to say that I pulled out of it. I started to focus on the present, and on all of the reasons to celebrate with her tonight. We did have a wonderful evening. Now she's fallen asleep, so here I am.


Perhaps this fine end to the day is a glimmer of hope in the darkness of my depression, my fear and lack of confidence. Today, I was ready to go back on my medication. I was looking at job listings. I was ready to give up on my business and even on ever earning the decent middle-income that I am still (barely) able to keep earning. It is a lesson for me. Not that I won't ever go back on the meds or that my business will necessarily bounce back. It is a lesson to me that if I really try, perhaps I can live, albeit briefly, in a day-to-day, one-day-at-a-time kind of way.


To briefly revisit the panic of the day: it is such an irrational reality in many ways. I know rationally that the panic hurts, rather than helps, my chances of financial survival. I know that even if all I do is get up and make an effort every morning with a relatively positive attitude, my wife will stand by me and even support me with what limited savings she has accumulated. I know that I have somewhat of a safety net in that I have family that I could turn to for at least some help, if I desperately needed it. Yet, depression and anxiety know no logic such as this. I felt desperate, nearly suicidal, at sea. It did not matter that I have a wife, a good friend, a family with some financial security. It is why I contemplate the medication. I did not lose sight of this as easily before. I was not as quick to be swept away by emotion.


Now that I am back in balance, at least for the time being, how can I stay here? I want to know. Can I control it, as I seemed to when I gave myself an attitude adjustment this evening, or was that a fluke or the end of the low point of my somewhat manic cycle? I want to succeed at this.

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