Is it a Simple Fear of Failure?

I’ve been sleeping badly which makes it almost impossible to tolerate stress, especially work stress.

I’ve been very vocal to my young supervisor that I cannot keep up the pace and she’s been understanding. She says they will be able to hire people effective July 1st. So it may be my opportunity to move up and away from the front desk, or at the very least give up some of my responsibilities to a new person.

I told her I’d try to hang tough until then.

I need your help, readers.

In the last few months I have been reminded at how I get to this stage where I utterly panic and then I quit. Quitting is not an option any longer, since I’m not married and I’m no longer on disability.

I’m so terrified of being off disability.

I look at my young coworkers and wonder how they handle the stress so well, and the bottom line is they must not be feeling it the same way I do. The reason I am 58 and only a front office person is that I always cave in to the pressure. The fear builds and builds and then I run off.

I could do that again, but I don’t want to, I really don’t. I want to stand up and face my fears. Shit, I only have so may working years left, I can surely rise to the occasion for a few years, right?

I finally (after months of promising to) called my therapist and will be seeing her on April 12th. I’m ashamed to see her since I’ve gained so much weight, but I desperately need her guidance so that I don’t fuck up and give myself away as a nervous wreck who can’t handle more responsibility.

I wonder why I’m this way.

My parents ask me everyday how my day went and I can see they are getting very alarmed at my state. The other day my mom said I’d probably get promoted if I didn’t make “too many waves.” She was referring to me going to my boss to tell her my workload has become unmanageable.

So even she and my father think I’m on the brink.

And I guess they’re right, I am.

My good ex husband, the one I loved, the marriage I ruined due to my mental illness saw this pattern in me time after time. I’d get a good job, a good opportunity, and within a few years I’d be at my wit’s end, unable to handle it. Afraid, really. I’m not sure of what.

Then the trips to the psych ward began, etc.

I don’t even know what to call this fear and anxiety over work expectations. If I did I’d study it online and try to get the upper hand. Maybe it’s fear of failure.

And this fear just spreads throughout my life. I begin to think about living on my own, with no one to depend on, and I panic and think I should stay here with my parents. I’m just afraid of everything.

And so for that reason I must find a way to keep on and to face these “demons” which  have plagued me throughout my entire life and kept me from doing what I wanted to do, and certainly kept me from finding my potential, which I think would have been great if I hadn’t sabotaged myself at every turn.

If any of you have an inkling of what my problem is called or resources to help me sort myself out, I’d appreciate it.

I’m 58. I’m lucky to have this job and I can’t afford to lose it or be unemployed. I only have another eight to ten years left to work so I have to make the most of it. I cannot cave to this fear ever again!

Please help me.



3 responses to “Is it a Simple Fear of Failure?

  1. Oh ML,
    I am sorry you are so stressed out.
    You have no idea the admiration I have for you after all that has happened getting a job and getting off disability. That is such a huge step that I can not even contemplate achieving what you have done.
    The core issue of my walking out of jobs has to do with my health issues and frustration with my employers and then the anxiety ensues and I walk out.
    From getting to know you through your sharing here, I am going to take a guess that this has to do with a less than nurturing childhood where you did not receive enough love and acceptance.
    It appears that you have been willing to give endlessly of yourself to others, even when you are being taken advantage of, to the point that you are exhausted and then there is no acceptance or reciprocation.
    Perhaps in your work situation, you are working and taking on more than would be expected of another worker. We know you are hoping for a position away from the front desk with better pay.
    Is there a chance that you are letting these duties pile up and exhaust you because you desperately want a certain outcome and your anxiety is increasing because of this? I would liken it to a chump willing to do more than their fair share in an attempt to control the uncontrollable.
    I think it is good that you pointed out that the workload is becoming a little too much and that you are hoping to advance in your company. There is such a thing as too much work and stress and it contributes to so much employee attrition, so it is not just an issue with you.
    Do you think that as you are tuning in your goals for the future the thought of financial shortcomings is increasing the stress?
    Easier said than done… but maybe you need to take a more global and general approach to the future while working on the details of the here and now.
    Also, kudos for getting on an AD, if in a while you are noticing it is not helping as much as you need, try something else.
    Happy Palm Sunday
    I wish you peace of mind.

  2. Oh, ENM, I don’t deserve such high praise. I’m not handling my transition from disabled to whatever it is I’m striving for now. I was going to say “normal” but what is normal anyway?

    I don’t want to allow myself to delve too deeply into why I am this way, but of course you’re right, it has everything to do with being made afraid of EVERYTHING as a kid. Don’t know why my mom did that to me when she went out of her way to make my brother prepared for EVERYTHING. I had similar aspirations as my brother, but my crippling shyness (fear) ruined life for me.

    I’m sure you’ll appreciate this even though I’m a lot older than you — but my dream is that when I get this house of mine I become the bohemian renaissance woman that I am deep inside. I’ll paint like a wild woman. I’ll find a way to travel and continue learning about English history and my love of J.S. Bach. There’s so much more living to do!

    Since the church is the only place I’ve found lasting solace I went there today and handed this stress burden over to God. I wish I had a lifelong habit of remembering that he is there for me, rather than remembering it weeks or months down the line in an “oh yeah” moment. At any rate, for right now I feel better and I pray (literally) that it will last.

    The bottom line at work is there is too much on my plate and they do know it. And if I can just behave myself and hang on, I believe I’ll be rewarded in July. In the meantime I will keep God and my therapist (and you) close so that I don’t fucking lose it at work.

    At first I thought the Buspar was keeping me awake so I only took it in the a.m., then I still couldn’t sleep so stopped taking it. But the doctor at work said she doesn’t think it’s the Buspar, so I am taking it again now and hoping for the best.

    I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your encouragement — you’re a dear friend.


  3. Keep a list of what you have going on. Keep it in “long” “mid” and “quick” lists. Whenever you’re getting overwhelmed, ask for a quick meeting with boss. Tell her what you’re prioritizing and why. Let her know what’s on the back burner, make sure she agrees with prioritization. It makes sure your eyes are on the same prize, and shows you that you know what you’re doing, and also reaffirms to her and you that there’s a shit ton on your plate.

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