I’m in the Charlotte airport, by myself. I seem to end up in the Charlotte airport once every few months, in the same terminal by the Starbucks. The flight next to mine is going to Munich, not Houston, and I’m considering going AWOL, jumping aboard.
In a departure from the beautiful crisp summer morning I left behind in Newark, it’s pouring here. It’s raining hard enough that it’s temporarily become the primary topic of conversation in the B terminal. Our flight has been delayed 2 hours. (*Later it was cancelled altogether.)
I didn’t think I’d be going back to Houston today.
Yesterday my anxiety disorder was winning, the trauma of the past few years had caught up with me again. I was so afraid I could only lie around and cry, and hug pillows. In those moments I admitted my darkest fears to myself and insofar as I can, to my sister and mother.
Fear looks like forever. It colors my work grey and meaningless (at a time when I have doubts about the value of most academic work). It tells me that I can never break up with anyone because I will never find another person to date. Logic says otherwise, but my life has thus far been governed and sabotaged by fear. Because I have listened to the fear above all other voices.
My sister asked me what my instincts were telling me. I think that’s the same as what my friend (and dog-sitting buddy) Sera refers to as the soul, and listening to the soul’s voice. My soul was telling me that E wasn’t really right for me, but my fear was telling me that I didn’t have the time to keep looking for someone who might fit better. I never did lose my feelings of high anxiety around E, because he was too close-lipped about himself, too concerned with his facade, too concerned with managing himself and the people in his life according to some corp-speak philosophy intended to deliver him maximum return on his investment. Perhaps needless to say, he was a salesman for a living– viewing people in utilitarian terms was his job.
When I hit my social limit, which doesn’t take long, or (that one time) objected to being abandoned (meaning he announced he “had to go”) at a party where I knew only him, he urged me to “network”, because “you never know who you’ll need, when.”
We weren’t a match.
But he was incredibly kind, and chivalrous, and called me “sweetie” and “babe”, which were firsts for me. He was ex-military, he was ripped (fit), and these were firsts for me too. I was fascinated by him.
I didn’t sleep again last night, but somewhere around 3AM, the fear ran out of materials to burn. Soul says I need to change therapists. Check! Soul says to find a good acupuncturist. Check! Soul says to focus on my work, and really examine whether I truly don’t enjoy it, or I’m currently just suffering from the malaise that comes with being in the middle of a massive project. Soul says to not actively look for a new partner. The latter is the hardest for me.
I told my sister something I deeply believe: I am happiest in a relationship. I want to feel taken care of, and like I have someone watching out for me. I pick one person at a time in the world to trust, and throw my trust into them almost entirely … and immediately. I feel like I’m drowning without that person because I don’t know how to take care of my own emotional needs. I would do anything to preserve a relationship with my chosen person, even when it proves to be a poor fit. This is why I was married for so long. Does this sound like any of you?
The fear is chemical. It is illogical. And it is wrong. It whispers to me that I’ll have regrets, that I’m doing everything wrong, that I have to hurry, that I’m not safe by myself. My fear is a liar.
I have read that distracting oneself from fear is misguided, that it means one isn’t dealing with one’s feelings. I don’t think that’s necessarily true. When the terror grips me I will continue to spiral illogically downward if i don’t intervene with aggressive distraction. Or talk it out.
I have to trust more than one person. This has been a big theme of the blog lately. I mean enough trust to text them when I am freaking out, and believe that they will tell me when it’s a bad time, and they can’t talk, trust that I will not “bother” them.
This is what I’m trying / have tried:
-A house purifying ritual from Mrs. B’s Guide to Household Witchery
-Reading some good books- I think when going through a crisis, books for pure pleasure are as important, if not more important, than “constructive” books
-Yoga (of course); also volunteering at the yoga studio to meet new people.
-Getting a housemate – this makes such a difference to my sanity.
Tell me, what helps you keep the fear at bay?