I would have normally just dropped the skein right there, plopped it on top of the impulse candy buys. But, I had to, needed to, stand there in that long line at Hobby Lobby for as long as I could.
While trying to find work, I’ve been trying to slowly handle being outside for more than an hour. So, I needed just one skein of yarn from Hobby Lobby, which is only a few blocks from here. I have to stress that I have not been that far from my home for any length of time in months.
As I expected, just after leaving the house I felt compelled to go back inside to check the stove, check the doors, the windows, the cats….I then walked out again, but just one block further, my agoraphobia insisted that I didn’t need to make this trip, I could order it online, “It’s fine, go back home.”
I began to feel physically worse the further I went. My guts were turning inside out, my skin felt hot, my eyes couldn’t tolerate light. “You see? You feel awful, sick. You’re close enough to home that you could just turn around right now and go back to feeling safe….and better.”
I wince when I hear it, focusing on the noise of the semis at the dairy as I move towards Hobby Lobby. I see life, I see production, I see active people all happy to be out in the sun. And just across that street, just around that little pond, is a shortcut to Hobby Lobby.
You would think that would be enough to squash my agoraphobia’s influence, and I thought it had. Because while walking up to the store, and while walking through the store, and while fetching that one skein of yarn that I needed, everything began to feel ok.
….then I stood in line.
It may have been 2 minutes, it may have been 10, I’m not sure, but the cashier said to me while tending to her current customer, “Sir, this will be a few minutes.”
I started clutching that skein, staring at fake flowers to my left and Swedish Fish to my right. “Just drop the skein on the fish and go. You need to go. Something could be wrong and you’re not at home to keep it from happening.”
I stare at anything I can, clutching that skein with a death grip. I feel my heart flutter, I hear, “This is taking too long….and all this while something could be wrong at home. You might have even lost it….it’s not there anymore, it’s not yours.”
“May I help the next person in line?” I barely heard, but the kind woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder with a smile and said, “That’s you!”
The cashier apologized for the delay and I began to pay for the skein…..but, my hands wouldn’t let me. I was so trembling with fear. Every time I inserted my card, it would read some sort of malfunction. These shaky fingers wouldn’t allow me to place the card in the slot. And the shaking was noticeable.
And that kind man asked me if I needed some help. I handed my card to him, lowered my head and blatantly, metaphorically said, “….yes.”
He inserted my card for me without problem and I was on my way.
I have no idea what that man might have thought of me, but if only he knew how much control I was holding over my panic, he may have applauded.
I would have rushed home before today, ran like a mad man back to his cave to see if it’s even still there. No. I wanted to go slowly, step by step, observing anything that pleased me. That flower, that rock, that car, that person, that window display, that bird, that sunbeam, that shadow, that laughter I heard in the distance, that swirl of traffic in the background, that total composition of life outside my frightened little bubble.
I did what I could to focus on moments in the pleasure of now, rather than being oppressed by dreadful thoughts of the future. And it seemed to make all the difference.
Didn’t hear my agoraphobia inside my head after that. I just went back around that little pond, past the dairy and the semis, back towards my shell beginning to cry in the most joyous way. I love days when you can cry because you’re happy.
I closed the door behind me, cuddled a cat that happily cuddled back and felt that I could do this. That the desire to do this was really pushing me to experience the most uncomfortable of situations while learning to live outside.
And despite my agoraphobia’s best intentions to convince me otherwise, I survived.
If you appreciate my blog and would like for it to continue, please donate. Every bit helps and I wouldn’t have the courage to do this without you. Thank you!