PTSD and the Galway Guy

The date of my London and Ireland trip quickly approaches and with it, some nasty anxiety about seeing the Galway Guy.

After 20 years of flirtatious banter, I am not wholly surprised that I am experiencing some nervousness about seeing him face to face.

The tone of the nervousness is one that I recognize and dislike, though. It is fear that he will make me feel things about myself that the Narcissist once did.

My rational mind recognizes there is little chance the Galway Guy will look at me and find my current self wanting as compared to his memory of 20-year-old me. It’s highly unlikely anyone who is emotionally aware and reasonably intelligent would expect a 42-year-old to look or act exactly like their 20-year-old self. I haven’t seen the Galway Guy in over twenty years, but I have known him for that long. He does strike me as emotionally aware and reasonably intelligent.

My emotional mind, however, still remembers all the times the Narcissist criticized me, my body, my sexuality, all the things that I am rather hoping I feel good about when I see the Galway Guy.

At this juncture I understand that the Narcissist is a relic of the past. What matters in the here and now is my opinion of myself, not the silliness the Narcissist used to spout. I am in the midst of building confidence in many areas of life and self right now. Sadly, though, my appearance is not included in those areas. In truth, I’d say my confidence in my appearance is close to an all time low.

It’s a rather nasty coincidence that I’ll be seeing this man who I haven’t seen in 20 years while my feelings about my appearance are so negative.

I’ve found a solution, though. It’s based on a tweet someone sent months ago. The idea is to soothe anxiety by playing a positive what if game.

This is what I am attempting to put into practice now.

Examples:

  • What if my view of myself is flawed?
  • What if I’m actually quite attractive?
  • What if he’s delighted to see me after all this time and doesn’t care what I look like?
  • Conversely… What if he looks at me with lust in his eyes?
  • At the heart of it, though, is this question: WHAT IF EVERYTHING IS OKAY?

Playing this game makes it easier to manage the fears and imagine positive outcomes.

Truly, the logical mind understands the “what if” scenarios I listed are far more likely than him looking at me and showing an expression of nausea.

The Narcissist was disgusted by everyone, including me. And the Galway Guy is not the Narcissist. In fact, it would behoove me (and many other survivors) to remember that the vast majority of people on this planet are not like the Narcissist.

Of course, I don’t and can’t know what actually will happen when I see the Galway Guy. All I know is what a healthy mindset looks like, and all I can do is try to maintain one. I must remain focused on reality, not imagined or remembered scenarios, and open to whatever may happen.

I must remember, whatever seeing him might be like, it will not make or break this amazing adventure, my psyche, or my self-esteem. It certainly will not “prove” anything about the Narcissist’s assertions.

There is some possibility, however small, that the Galway Guy might be a jerk in person now. If that’s the case, so be it.

The reality is, seeing him for one evening will be but one small part of an altogether amazing 10 day adventure.

Put in perspective, my time with my Galway Guy will literally be only 10% of this trip. That’s next to nothing.

Seeing him will be fun. That’s it. It will be wild to have actually seen him again after all this time.

At best, Stella will get her groove back, so to speak (hopefully minus the messy aftermath). At worst, I’ll have a great story to tell.

No expectations.

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