I’m going to describe the anxiety attack I’m trying to quell by writing about it.
It began around 6:30AM. Our two dogs, who reside with my ex-wife, stayed with me last night. This morning, after I fed them, we headed around the block to the dog park.
It was the first brisk morning that actually felt like Fall. There was something in the air. A scent? A reminder of winter not far away? I felt a pit in my stomach. My throat dried out.
I time-traveled. I was in ten and the first day of school was coming.
As a ten-year old hellion, I was diagnosed hyperactive. And dyslexic. I took Ritalin, decades before it was fashionable.
Going to school was miserable.
I’d walk into a classroom, beeline to the desk furthest from the teacher, and closest to a window. I’d slowly shift the desk toward the window until the teacher finally noticed and told me to set it straight. Every day. Every class. For years.
At the dog park, my heart rate increased. Cold sweat appeared on my brow. I wasn’t sure what was really bothering me.
I dropped the dogs off at my apartment and went to Starbucks. Ordered coffee as I tried to regulate my breathing. Phone call from my best friend Marty. He needed help upgrading to the iPhone 7. A few minutes later, the dogs and I were off to Bethesda.
Staring at Marty’s computer screen watching the message, “15 minutes until update complete,” was nice. A defined universe where change is predictable down to the minute. Where you know the outcome of the changes you’re making, before you make them.
Then I took the dogs to my ex-home where Caroline, my ex-wife warmly greeted the three of us.
She was squeezing grapefruit juice and offered me a glass. I said “no thank you.”
She offered me an Ezekiel’s sprouted grain english muffin. I said “no thank you.”
Caroline told me about the latest multi-million dollar law suit she is litigating. I nodded when appropriate, and even commented once.
How could she be so comfortable talking to me like a friend? Like it was no different? Why wasn’t it as difficult for her as it was for me?
When I left, I set Waze to take me back to my apartment in Northwest DC. I didn’t need GPS. I’ve driven the route a billion times, taking our three daughters to school, just two blocks from my apartment.
I relied on Waze because I’m not trusting my sense of direction right now. Or more to the point, I’m a little lost.
Stay in touch. Connect. Comment.
PS: Writing this post has helped me let go of the anxiety that threatened to overwhelm me. Yay.
I’d love for you to comment on what you do when anxiety becomes overwhelming.
PPS: A short scene from Napoleon Dynamite. Napoleon’s girlfriend, Deb, is testimony to social anxiety.