As is common with adult children of narcissists, I have a lot of anxiety. It got worse once the C-PTSD developed fully in 2012. This anxiety has caused my comfort zone to shrink into a little tiny place. So many things can make me uncomfortable if not downright terrified. One of my biggest problems has been routine. I need a strict routine & if something interrupts that routine, I panic.
At the end of February,I suddenly became very sick with carbon monoxide poisoning. During the worst of it, I passed out & hit my head pretty badly. While recovering, it’s caused me to think a lot about things. Mostly the fact that life can change in a flash, & we should enjoy whatever time we have on this earth. It caused me to rethink some things. I also felt God was dealing with me about stepping out of my comfort zone. Granted, He had been dealing with me for a while about it, but I had somewhat ignored that (not proud of this, mind you!). When laid up with a concussion & recovering from what could have been a life ending illness, there’s really no excuse to ignore God anymore. Not like I’ve been too busy to talk with Him!
He showed me that during last December when my father was in the hospital, I was constantly outside of my comfort zone. I had to leave home constantly, deal with complete strangers (doctors, nurses, etc) & spend a lot of time with my narcissistic mother. In a period of two weeks, I was so stressed, I lost eight pounds & my hair suddenly became brittle & fragile. However, good came from this awful time. While I still have agoraphobia, it’s improved quite a bit. I have gone from absolutely terrified of leaving home to able to do it much easier. Spending a full day alone at the hospital waiting on my father to have surgery helped me in that area. It was hard, but I got through it, & it wasn’t as hard as I’d thought it’d be.
That particular situation forced me well outside of my comfort zone. I wanted no parts of it, but it turned into a good thing anyway. So, I started doing so on a smaller, voluntary scale. I have a schedule for cleaning my home. I’ve changed the schedule recently (which I was quite nervous about doing since I’ve had this schedule for 20+ years) so there is more flexibility in it, & it’s been a good thing. By having a more flexible schedule, I’ve been able to spend time with friends, write or just relax when normally I’d be too busy to do so. And, this flexibility has helped reduce my anxiety levels. If something comes up on a day I need to do housework, it no longer completely flusters me.
I know stepping outside of a comfort zone has the potential to make you extremely anxious, but it really can be worth it! Start by doing small things outside of your comfort zone as you feel able to do them, & work up from there. If you truly are afraid, don’t discount what you wanted to do- merely postpone it for a day where you feel stronger. Those days happen sometimes, & it’s ok! But, if you feel able, push yourself, & ask God to help & strengthen you. You will be rewarded when you find yourself comfortable doing something that once terrified you!