Things are better for me at work -- they aren't actually better at work, but they're better for me -- I had a bit of a breakthrough in handling a rather crucial source of my anxiety. The nugget seems to be not wanting to cry. At work, or anywhere outside my home (at home, it's fine!). All tied in with not wanting to appear weak or vulnerable. All tied in with thinking appearing weak was what "attracted" my assaulters to me.*
So the issue this time around was not the assault -- I pretty much dealt with that in therapy several years ago -- it's around my belief as to why it happened, and how I reacted afterwards -- which actually was that I did not cry at all anywhere for a couple of years afterward, then just concentrated on putting as much time between that "very bad day" and the present. And then it moved to, outside my home & at work. Then, I did a bunch of "selective attention", where I looked for evidence that supported my belief that crying at work would be disastrous, and of course found lots.
A few days ago, I became furiously angry at my bosses, who seemed to be scapegoating me for a project (under my jurisdiction), but that they were constantly impeding by sitting on drafts I send them for weeks and weeks. I was so mad I was going to quit and even packed up my desk. Anyway, long story short, about 2 hrs after a really nasty confrontational meeting that solved nothing, I started to tear up at the anxiety, injustice and anger, and my overpowering thought was -- I gotta get out of here!
But I stopped myself -- using my new lessons discussed with the psychologist -- and told my boss we need to talk, and simply explained away my tears** by saying when I am very, very frustrated or angry, I get teary, but let's just carry on. Anyway, we then had a much better, much more open & honest discussion (honesty on her part; I was already honest). The end result -- she's back on my side.
Not sure if I still want to work here, but I'm going to reevaluate in September and decide then.
And so it seems that my anxiety attacks seem to be a post-traumatic stress coda.
* (which happened about 20 years ago; I didn't process it -- just wished it away, and counted on time to make it farther and farther away. Then my GP figured out something was very wrong and referred me to a psychologist who specialized in s&%ual assa*l#. She was wonderful, and unfortunately passed away about 2 yrs ago.)
**(as planned in session; we're doing cognitive behavioural therapy; she's an anxiety specialist - and so am I!)
PS: As for a nice, pretty thing to go with this posting, here's one that gave me a wonderfully painful pang of nostalgia. Check out the banner page of Posie gets cozy. The quilt in the bike basket on the right? I had the same one on my bed growing up. I loved it - it was pretty, without being little girly. And I decorated my room with those colours. Sigh.