I've been steeping myself in the waters of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy lately. Eve's therapist suggested a few books to me and they are the kind of books that, when you read them, you go, "Duh!" Duh in a good way. Like, why didn't I realize that? Why have I been doing the absolute, complete opposite of that for the past several months (or my entire lifetime, as it turns out) and expecting different results?
Thankfully, neither my therapist nor Eve's reprimands me for it. They both assured me that it's perfectly normal and reasonable to live the way I've been living, but that now it's time to change. For everyone's sake.
As to the anxiety and fear Eve is struggling with, we've been encouraged to work toward it. Face it. Walk through the fire and realize that as we come out the other side, we are just fine. Do that 495 times and eventually the notion that fire is not so scary will sink in. One day at a time, this notion is scary. For Eve, the idea of sitting right inside the vortex of her fear is overwhelming to say the least. But her therapist said something last Monday that really struck me. She said, "The anxiety feelings can't hurt you. They feel awful and they make your heart race and your stomach flutter and your palms sweat, but your body can't maintain that level of anxiety for long so if you just sit with it, your body will eventually calm down. In the meantime, the feelings can't kill you. You won't bleed or have a heart attack or stop breathing. They can't hurt you even though they threaten to."
I don't know if Eve believes it, but as her mother, that was what I needed to hear in order to let her sit with it. Each and every mothering instinct I have urges me to do the opposite; fix it, rescue her, swoop in and save her, but if I can continue to remind myself that she is not going to die, maybe I can let her conquer this on her own and reap the rewards.
*The books I am loving are: Tamar Chansky's "Freeing Your Child From Anxiety," and Dawn Huebner's "What to Do When You Dread Your Bed" and "What to Do When You Worry Too Much."