Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind.
If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained. "
Arthur Somers Roche

For the summer, my writing group is going to venture away from Panera's and writing assignments. Carol has hopes of stimulating our creativity. Her ideas are based, I think, on The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Today, in honor of Carol's birthday we met at her house for lunch. Time away with a writing ladies. How cool is that?
Apparently, to my messed up psyche, not so.
First of all it meant rearranging a doctor's appointment for Dad.
Then I had to make sure my sister would be home while I was gone.
Then my car, which has been in the shop three times in the last two weeks, lost its serpentine belt which meant I had to use Dad's car which always makes me nervous.
And, did I mention that the rain we prayed for on Sunday has been coming down in a slow steady torrent for two days with no apparent end in sight. Did Key West Johnnie predict hurricanes or floods?
Added all together I felt like maybe the get-away gods were plotting against me.
Still everything fell into place.
There was really no reason for me to wake up this morning with anxiety rising almost into the panic stage. My inner scaredy cat voice kept saying, don't go, but that seemed silly to sound minded ME. I wanted to go. I deserved to go. Everything was lined up, there was nothing to be afraid of.
Well, the rain and the miles and dad's car sort of combined into something to be afraid of. But I've driven in rain before. It wasn't really a stay home rain. Buck up, I told myself.
Then my scaredy cat voice whispered, how do you know this isn't a god-wink you should listen to. Are you sure you want to tempt fate? Dang it all. Should I go or not?
I insisted I go and I'm glad I did. Once there, I relaxed. My fingers gradually unclenched from grabbing the steering wheel as if for dear life. Sitting on Carol's screened porch with good food, good friends, and the sound of rain coming through the trees was about as much reason as I needed to be grateful for pushing through my fear. I didn't think about Dad or what was going on at home. I pushed away the scaredy cat voice that sat on my shoulder laughing at my ability to socialize. I concentrated on my time away.
Then it was time to come home. The drive was just as wet and messy. But knowing I was heading back to my comfort zone made it oddly less stressful. I drove like the grandma I am. A lone, isolated, scared grandma.
Now I'm back home and feeling safe. As far as I can tell nothing bad happened when I was gone. I've got my jammies on and I'm settled into my place on the couch. But I'm also feeling icky. My head is a little achy and my stomach feels queasy. Is there such a thing as a panic hangover?
I can't figure out what it was that scared me so. The rain? The distance? The women? No one to be in charge of but ME? I can see that I'm becoming a bit of a recluse. The kind that can spend time in Walmart or Publix (see last post) and smile at strangers, but doesn't feel comfortable outside of her own private Idaho.
That's really weird isn't it? I had such a nice, girly day, I want to be feeling happy. For some reason I kind of feel like crying. What in the world is wrong with me?
Stranger than fiction,
Merry Me


Sorrow said...

yes, there is such a thing as a panic attack hang over...
all the clenching has to unclench.
Glad you had a great day out and took care of you.

Fire Byrd said...

The problem with staying safe all the time is that when we have to challenge that safety our anxiety gets to unmanagable proportions.
The only way to keep on top of the anxiety Gremlin is to constantly show it whose boss and keep doing things slightly outside your comfort zone so you get used to thwarting the potential panic attacks.

Anonymous said...

I think Sorrow and Fire Byrd said it well. I hope you can get out more - it is good for you, it can become part of your comfort zone again, and most especially, you deserve it. lg

Anonymous said...

Fear is what it is: F. Fantasy E. Expectations A. Appearing R. Real Cute acronym - BS for many. HOORAH to you for feeling fear, and doing it anyway. Is there a payoff in denial? Denying ourselves pleasure because we don't 'deserve' it? There is no deserve to it. Our natural state of being is JOY, a GOD given gift that becomes over shadowed by years of under appreciation; by others, by self. PANIC - DO IT, PANIC - DO IT, PANIC -- DO IT ANYWAY. You did it, you saw an old friend along the way, you got to 'rib' him a little and came home with a twinkle in your eye. Does it get any better than that?

swallowtail said...

A beautiful post. Uncomfortable, yes.

Have you ever seen the movie, "Star Man?" There is a scene (big + is watching Jeff Bridges, young, mmmm) where the "alien" is physically 'growing' into an adult human. I am reminded of this as I read your writing.

Growing pains take many shapes/forms. And, I have to say, being in the same room as "The Artists Way" will create havoc in your old, habitual ways. Keep writing! I am reading...

Love to you.