When I was growing up, I thrived when I had a routine. Most of the time, my routines were self imposed. I would get up at the same time, get ready for the day, go through my school routine, and after coming home complete my work in the same manner. Change was hard, unsettling, and anxiety-ridden. My mother had several undiagnosed mental health issues, so whenever something was out of whack with her, it affected me internally. I would wander around the house or outside, aimlessly and full of tension. It was only later that I was able to devise more routines for myself that I held on to rigidly that allowed me to function.
The routines were a great coping mechanism for living in a household where things could get crazy. They were perfect for when I couldn’t make sense of my own emotions after being molested because I could fall back on them at any time. When life and school got overwhelming, I learned that I could shut myself down and keep the routine so that I could produce. My entire self-worth, self-esteem, and self-identity hinged on that ability to produce. It was my saving grace through times that were very uncertain and proved to deflect a great deal of what was really wrong inside my head.
However, as an adult, I couldn’t function reliably for very long holding fast to a rigid routine. What had worked so well before was not going to hold me above water for very long. I had to use what I learned about routines and develop new tools to figure out how to navigate life’s very turbulent waters! Exercising and reading became essential for me to forget about my chaotic feelings for a while. However, writing became the best therapy I could have ever had. Once I saw my feelings in black and white before me, I coudl really deal with them, whether they were significant, impactful, or just exaggerations of my overly active anxious self. I keep learning about how to best deal with my emotions. I encourage most of you reading this to write or journal your emotions. It’s a great way to work them out and find peace in your life.