The Safe Zone – I don’t mean feeling physically safe. (That should be a basic human right!) No, in this context I mean the zone we might stay in to stay emotionally comfortable.
Each person has their own codes and ethics, morals and rules to live by. We learn these from our families, friends, environments. As we grow, we give ourselves tune-ups, expanding our definitions and pushing our boundaries.
In the past, I found myself in a deep rut, bound by a safe zone. I couldn’t move! I felt that no matter what I decided, someone would be hurt or upset. But, not “moving” meant stagnation, which was unhealthy.
To solve this issue, it took a lot of very tiny decisions on my part, until I felt able to make larger ones. To be completely honest, the biggest change in my most recent life was my father going into the hospital and then passing away. This moved me from inaction to complete action. I knew what I had to do.
I don’t drive very much due to anxiety. One time while I was working in Pittsburgh, I drove myself to get dinner at a fast food place, and on the way home, I experienced hysterical blindness. My eyes were completely open, but there was nothing but a curtain of black in front of me. It did not last long – thank goodness! After a few seconds, and a car honking behind me, my adrenaline kicked in and I was able to get back to the hotel. This scare put me off driving for many years. I would drive a mile away to the grocery store, but that was about it.
When my father went into the hospital, I started driving there every day to visit him. It is a 15 minute drive, and fairly straight forward, but I still had the occasional panic attack. There was no question in my mind though – not going was not an option. I HAD to be there, and I had to do it myself. My dad was my inspiration. After all of the things he’s done for me in my life, it was the least I could do for him – to show up!
In a way, I needed this huge life altering change, but I wish it had been for different reasons.
Before that happened however, I was making other changes.
- Contacting friends on Facebook that I hadn’t talked to in a while
- Taking walks outside
- Choosing what I wanted to eat
- Deciding what to eat before I was hungry, instead of waiting until I was starving and then scarfing everything in sight
- Instead of eating when I was stressed, I would create something
These changes were so hard for me at first. Taking a walk consisted of 2 minutes walking up and down the driveway. That was all I could do! But, soon I could do 5 minutes! By June when Dad was in the hospital, I could walk all over the hospital without falling over. This was huge for me. I still had to stop and rest sometimes, but I could do it!
In December, I was invited to a caroling party. We walked up and down the street in the snow, stopping at various houses and even a restaurant to sing. It wasn’t until I was heading back to our base that I felt truly exhausted. A few years ago, this would have been impossible for me. Even Skotte was impressed at my stamina!
These challenges have been extremely hard for me. Without the support of medicine that aids my anxiety and fibromyalgia, friends/family who help and listen when I need to vent, and my willingness to be connected to the world around me, this new adventure would not be possible.
If I can do it, so can you!
Some of the huge changes I thought I had to make to get out of my emotionally safe zone ended up not being needed at all. I could have made them, and had some of the same results. There really is no one way to accomplish things in our lives. However, you have to find out what works best for YOU!
But the first step is being willing to do it!
Are you ready???
Holding one of my Christmas presents from Skotte