Doing things alone used to be second nature. When I moved in with my best friend Matt, everything was easy. We would each get our own groceries, I would go to the gym alone, I’d go shopping alone if my friends were busy, I’d stay home alone in the apartment if Matt was out or at work. Shaun was four hours away at school, so I never really thought twice about being alone.
At some point, and I really wish there was a way to pinpoint the exact time, I stopped feeling like I could be alone. Anxiety has always been present, but it had never before interfered with me physically, only mentally. I’d feel awkward being in a situation in which I didn’t know people, but it never stopped me from attending the party, the bar, the get together, etc. I would just go, meet new people, be awkward as hell, and then go home and think about all the things I could have said or done to make me appear less weird. Oh, and that loud laugh of mine when I feel uncomfortable…ugh. It’s never necessary but forever present.
I like order. Much to my husband’s dismay, I don’t mind a messy room, but I need order in how I go through my life. Change is inevitable and I adjust, but it does take a while. Growing up I used to feel a sense of saddness when things changed. The first real panic attack I remember having is the first time I got off the bus at my new bus stop after we had moved houses in 2001. I was walking home and it just hit me that I live somewhere else and I’m never going to live in that old house.
I have to be driven to visit my granny instead of walking across the street. She’s going to forget about me. I’m never going to be able to walk to the beach again, someone else is going to play on my swing set, someone else is going to read on my bench next to the cliffs. I can’t just ride my bike around anymore because this road is dangerous. My friends aren’t going to come to the new house because it’s harder to get there. I live wayyyyy too close to the Pig Lady Bridge. I’m going to get killed by the pig lady. I am going to be literally murdered by a woman with a pig face. I’m going to be turned into the Pig Girl and have to haunt my family and they won’t know it’s me because I’ll have a pig face and I’ll have to try to murder them too even though they’re my family and then we’ll be a pig family and no one will ever know what happened to use because we’ll have to live under the bridge while another family moves into our new house and then the cycle will continue. Pure. Panic.
By the way…this isn’t even how the Pig Lady Bridge story goes:
The Pig Lady is a half-human, half-beast creature that preys on unsuspecting teenagers foolish enough to stop their cars and smooch near the bridge she calls home. Some say she also has magical powers that can force cars to stall out so she can make her move, and residents have reported hearing pig noises near her reported hang-out spots in Cecil County.
My lovely sister Amy told me a different version. Well, showed me. She stopped her car on the bridge while my friend and I were in the car with her. I was crying. My friend was begging her not to stop. Amy stops anyway to scare the crap out of us, honks three times, and then waited a few seconds to see if the pig lady would show up. She clearly did not. I was scared. I’m probably still scared. Whatever. Don’t look at me.
My dad built our family a beautiful house and we were so lucky to live there, but I was a nervous wreck from all of the changes. I was in 7th grade, witnessing my friends get boobs and waiting for mine to show up (still waiting), writing on my hand in gel pen, wearing clothes that were too small for me, bedazzling my clothes, putting gems in my hair, wearing bright white shadow, ya know. The normal 7th grade stuff. Having a big room and my own closet with a light was the coolest thing for me, because I’d sit in there and read long after I should have been in bed asleep. Let’s not forget about the peace frog painted on my wall. My friends know exactly what I’m talking about. That thing was badass.
Actually, that’s probably what brought me peace and since my mom painted over it, I no longer have peace. I figured it out. Thanks, Mom.
Just kidding, ma.
I do have trouble now, going places alone. If it is part of my normal schedule, there’s no problem. I go to therapy Wednesdays after work, sometimes I go get a pedicure, I go to doctor’s appointments, etc. But I really struggle going to the store alone, or just being in the house alone. I get so anxious right before going to an event and I’ve let so many opportunities pass me by because I can’t strike up the nerve to get up and go. Somehow I was able to sign up for races and run next to thousands of people without batting an eye, but going to the grocery store by myself is a struggle and I shake the entire time. I’ve traveled for work to California, Florda, etc. and I was perfectly content, but I had to go inside CVS to pick up my prescription and I wanted to throw up.
That being said, I want to get out. I want to do something for me without feeling like I’m going to break down. I signed up for a boxing class and I’m going directly after work today. Terrible nerves and negative thoughts be damned, I’m going.
If you’re wanting to do something but you’re feeling anxious about it, leave a comment! Let’s chat.