Clutching at a Skein for Dear Life

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.”

214441201_945132159610425_563695233710863715_nI 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.”

I gasped.

“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.

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14 comments

  1. Gregory, I have so much respect for you. You’re doing a difficult thing and sticking with it. You can lick this!

  2. Hobby Lobby might be wanting to hire you.
    You’ve got skills that would serve them well
    You can teach knitting classes, teach embroidery classes, be the go to person when customers have crafting questions as well as everything else in the store
    I think you should give the manager a call instead of applying online because your a customer and crafting is your niche
    Also try Michael’s if there is one near you
    Ronni

    1. I agree with Ronni, Gregory. You would be perfect! So very proud of you and what you accomplished today. It is a very big deal!

      1. Take another walk today with a targeted purpose so you again have a measure of your success. Keep rolling forward

  3. Congrats!! You exhibited tenacity and persistence in overcoming your anxiety and you won. How wonderful you must feel. If you know you will run an errand, maybe lay off the coffee just before which causes racing thoughts and clutch onto a big wad of Betty’s fur in your pocket for security. It works!!!! Try it!!!!

  4. Looks like you won a small victory today. Good for you for having the courage to accept help.

    I know most Americans like to DIY. But you don’t have to (you know, just saying…).

    There are resources you can access nearby– such as the Job Accommodation Network that can help you find work and be successful. You’re already a successful author, fiber craftsman, and blogger. Not to mention cat dad. Wouldn’t hurt to give them a call at 800-232-9675

    There are also resources to help you find housing https://namigo.org/resources/housing/

  5. You can do this my friend and you did do it! I second Karen’s suggestion, there are ways for you to get help finding a place to live and so forth, I wanted to suggest it previously but I know you want to do this for yourself. Sometimes, we need help and it is ok to ask for it. Shoot if you came to TN we could put you to work in one of our stores, we need help desparately! HUGS

  6. Hi Gregory – I have been reading about your journey with some interest. I didn’t realize agoraphobia manifested this way – I guess I knew about being afraid to leave your home, but I thought that the issue was being overwhelmed with the noise, uncertainty etc – I didn’t realize you would worry, after you ventured out, of something happening at your home, or that you forgot to lock the door, or worse – that your home wouldn’t be there when you got back!

    I suffer a bit from OCD, where – when I am stressed – I have to keep checking that the doors are locked, etc. I have learned to say it out loud – I HAVE CHECKED THE DOOR. IT IS LOCKED. It helps to say it out loud to myself, so I know I did it. It surprised me to see that while you are out, you are worrying about this – and I understand it! You really showed a great amount of control, perseverance and bravery by staying in line. Don’t worry so much about what other people are thinking, they have their own problems and are probably worrying the same thing!

    Best of luck with all of this. You are also showing a lot of bravery by honestly writing about such sensitive issues. Wish you all the best!

    1. Oh my! I just learned the best tool recently for checking the doors and stove and all of that. Take a pic on your phone when you close the door and pull it up every time you need to remind yourself rationally that you DID check everything….and everything is alright. 🙂 Thank you for reading! And good luck to you, too!

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