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Me and Dr. Gary O. Bean of Raleigh Family Practice.

I spent three hours yesterday getting poked, prodded, stabbed and analyzed, all in the name of good health, by a pair of docs. (Paradox?)

I had my annual physical with Dr. Bean, and that includes a full blood exam. My blood pressure was 124/78, and I understand that’s not bad. (I choose not to learn more about blood pressure because I’m determined to never have a problem with it.) I suspect I’m anemic, and am curious about my cholesterol and overall blood health. I should have the answers in a week.

It was nice to see Dr. Bean again, and to fill him in on my progress thus far, probably because he’s one of the precious few I’ve really opened up to.  Geez, I feel like a little kid. I want to make him to be proud. How weird is that?

Because of the blood work, I hadn’t eaten anything since around 7:30 the night before. I was out of Bean’s office by noon, and was due at my therapist’s at 12:15. I was in west Raleigh, and Tanza’s near downtown, but I don’t know the streets well enough to have figured out a shortcut, and arrived about five minutes late.

It had been so long since I’ve been in her office, I found myself almost breathless just 10 minutes into the session. I’m not really much a talker and not used to a captive audience, but there I was, chattering away, trying to make up for lost time. And yet it wasn’t until the end of our 45-minute session that I brought up the one thing that troubled me most. Her response: Check out The Self-Esteem Workbook by Schiraldi.

For newcomers: At the heart of my issues is anxiety. I don’t fully understand why, but it has myriad manifestations, and I’m in therapy to see them for what they are.

As for the incident, Tanza says it has to do with self-esteem. I won’t pretend to fully understand what that is, other than having something to do with thinking as highly of yourself as you do others. Holding oneself in high regard. Being worthy of happiness in life.

Sounds simple enough: Be happy.

I believe I’m happy. Reasonably content. Life is actually pretty darned good. But because of how I felt about myself regarding the incident, Tanza believes I have a self-esteem issue. And because I’m yielding to the professionals, I’ll go along with that. For now …

Here’s what happened: Two days before, I told Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless about some intensely hurtful words she’d used against me. Because of her role in my life, it took me a week for me to challenge her comments, and told her as much. Which I immediately regretted. First, there was denial. Next, incredulity. Finally, dismissal: “Leslie, just put that out of your mind.”

Yes, I stood up for myself. No, I didn’t think it was worth it.  After a lifetime of flinging about words so sharp they can shred a soul, what’s a few more? The aim is true. The scars, permanent.

But what’s changing is me. I can cross swords with the best of them and inflict a lot of pain with my own words, but you’ll agree that it’s the people closest to us who seem to do the most damage to our psyche.

So why did I regret my action? Tanza said it has to do with my self-esteem. Thing is, most who say they know me would disagree. I’m outgoing, they’d say. Confident. Friendly. Caring. I truly am those things. Mostly. Part of it is a façade; a false front, like one of those temporary cement walls around a construction site. It’s there to protect you from being harmed by the work going on the other side.

And vice versa.

So I’ll pat myself on the back for delivering a measured response to some highly toxic words, instead of just swallowing them as before (usually with a pint of ice cream). And I’ll order the self-esteem book, even though I’m not fully convinced it’s what I need. Of course, if I could accurately diagnose what I do need, maybe I wouldn’t be less than 20 lbs. shy of 300.

I’m looking forward to the results of my blood work – cholesterol, minerals, whether I’m anemic or have cooties, so I know what I’m working with, and what I need to work on.

Many of you said you’re embarking on this weight-loss quest with me. If so, I highly recommend you regularly consult with a physician and a therapist, too.

"Someone's opinion of you does not have to become your reality." ~ Les Brown