Saturday, October 14, 2017

Alone in the Crowd?

Back here after another couple of months, it looks like.  It's interesting to me that this entry will unintentionally carry on from the last one.  It seems like I am in a similar place, although it feels like I am in a better place.

Last Sunday, I had another agoraphobia episode at church; fortunately I hadn't been silly enough to have obligations that I signed up for, this time, so the idea that I could leave if I needed to gave me enough strength and feeling of safety to be able to stay--in the building to hear the message, at least, if not in the main sanctuary.

The main trigger was that a lovely and caring, but apparently extroverted, lady decided to sit in the seat right next to me (right up inside my personal space bubble, despite there being enough empty seats to "spread out") and started engaging me in conversation.  She said she was concerned about me because she always sees me sitting here off to the side by myself, and she worried I wasn't making friends and connections in the church, and could she join me so she could get to know me better?

I agreed, naturally, because that's what reasonable people do, even though my mind processed her request as, "You always stay over here where it's safe; why don't you ever plunge into this tortured, chaotic, indecipherable mass of writhing bodies with us?  Can I try to convince you how enjoyable and non-horrifying it is?"  And I think that would have been okay, if quaintly misguided; but then a man I didn't recognize* sat down in my "blind spot" on the other side, and I started to feel the light-headedness coming on.

I'm thinking today about the original assumption that was made:  That I must be somehow less happy, less connected, because I gravitate toward the edges, not toward the middle.  I found it surprising, because I didn't feel unhappy; to me I was in the perfect spot--not at home being truly isolated, and not in the middle of everything being overwhelmed.
It makes me think of how I love where my (formerly 'our') home is; far enough out that it feels secluded, but close enough that within a half-hour I can be at Alderwood or Bellevue, or almost to Seattle, where there is more shopping and activities than anybody could possibly stand.  I think it's perfect.  When my mom visited me, though, she found it oppressively crowded and busy here.  A friend from the city, on the other hand, might comment, "Wow, you really live out in the middle of nowhere, don't you?"
It makes me realize, my idea of "too much" is somebody else's idea of "not enough."  And it doesn't mean either of us are wrong, it means we are different and beautifully unique.

Getting back to church, you know, I can see why someone, especially someone extroverted, would imagine that.  It's true; even during the after-service "coffee communion," I tend to just find a seat away from the crowd, with lots of personal space around it.  I'm happy to engage with people if they break away from the pack to come say 'hi' to me, and I'm also content to just sit and watch the crowd, taking in its energy as it flows this way and that, in and around and through itself like a grand subconscious dance, if no-one does.  Either way, I'm happy there, in that perfect-for-me spot, connected enough, but not overwhelmed.

So, don't worry about me too much.  I don't stay on the outskirts because I'm unhappy or grieving.  I'm out here because it's right where I like to be.  It always has been.  You might think it wouldn't be enough for you.  If so, we are beautifully different, and I won't mind if you join the dance.  I might even go with you, every now and again, but only for a short time, because it's not where I belong.  And if you ever need to rest, if only for a short time, by all means, feel free to come sit with me in safety, for a while.


*I almost wrote "scary-looking man", but realized that's pretty much implied by "man I don't recognize", so I doubt that objectively he was any more threatening than anyone else.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Relapse

I think I might need to just accept that I have issues with agoraphobia.  Specifically, the kind that triggers on being in a crowded space, whether or not the space in question is especially 'open' or not.  (Though I do notice, with a true "wide open space" like a parking lot, even an empty one, I compulsively check behind myself a lot.)

I write about this now, because I gave myself another panic attack this weekend.  I made a commitment (and even re-confirmed it) which set me up to not feel able to leave, in a space that got way too crowded.  I even tried to make the space feel less crowded by adding more tables and seats, but those filled up too.  So I retreated to a smaller area, which also got crowded and hectic, and then I started feeling dizzy and short of breath, and had to go outside and sit in the woods until it passed.  I did go back in and try to help a little to finish up, but after going home, I spent the rest of the day feeling too exhausted to even sit around playing video games, and barely found energy to make myself something for dinner.

If I'm honest, I've always had an aversion to crowds; I've never really been up for sporting events or fairs or that sort of thing.  (The fair always sounds like fun, but if I go, the crowd always gets to me.) Even shopping is only really enjoyable if I go when the stores aren't very busy.  And I think two is the perfect number for a social engagement; the larger the number, the more I end up staying in my shell for the most part.
It's only been this problematic with real panic attacks recently, though; I'm guessing it's because now I have grief overlaid onto it.

Last night while I was trying to work up the notion to get up out of the recliner and get ready for bed, I watched some funny dog videos on my tablet, that came up on Facebook.  It made me laugh harder than it had any right to, and somewhere in the middle of it, the giggles turned into a huge wailing sobbing fit of grief that caught me completely by surprise, and left me wondering, "Where did that come from?"  It made me feel about half crazy.

I don't know, maybe I am.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Anomalous

How silly of me
to have imagined
I belonged someplace

The only place
I have ever felt
I truly belonged
was with my Joanne

but now
she is
gone.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Angelic

"Why are people so awful to each other?"

It's the question I end up asking myself, recently, when I habitually click the "Facebook" link I have bookmarked on my toolbar.  It seems especially bad recently; it feels like every time I go there, there's just nothing but negativity, although it may be that it is the same as always and I am especially sensitive recently instead.
I'm feeling pretty withdrawn right now, especially from social media, but probably also in general; I didn't go to church this morning, or go out at all today, like I had imagined I might.

My friend Jill stopped by briefly on Friday to bring me a birthday gift; she gave me a copy of the book "Earth Angels Realms" by Doreen Virtue.  It was an interesting read, and I feel like it gave me a lot to contemplate.  I don't really have enough delusions of grandeur to call myself an "Incarnated Angel," but the book's description of one does seem to fit me to a "t", from the conflict-avoidance tendencies and sometimes-unhealthy "need to be needed", right down to my relationship with food and even the tinnitus (ringing in ears).
I found it interesting enough that I have a second book by the same author on the way; I've always imagined that wisdom is where you find it, and though I don't imagine I am anything as special as all that, I figure that if she can describe me that well, there might be some advice I would find useful.

It feels like I have a lot more thinking to do about this.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Avoidance is the Best Escape

...Escape is the best Survival, Survival is the best Victory.

Monday and yesterday were definitely better days at work.  I am still exhausted and it is going to take an act of willpower to go show up for this last one, but I can do it, and I know now that it will be a good day too.
Today is the full Flower Moon but I think I am going to put off going to the columbarium until tomorrow so I can be better rested and hopefully feeling more spiritual.

Being able to compare the three days last week to the three days this one, I realize that I actually love my job most of the time, despite the sometimes-grueling hours.  Unfortunately, about 15% of the time, I have to deal with this one 'person' who is a psychic vampire (those who don't believe in the concept of a spiritual assault would probably say "narcissistic sociopath") among the hundreds of good people I work with.
I'm realizing that whether it is a "good" day at work depends almost completely on whether he's working in my office that day.
My problem is, I'm an empath and I don't know how to wall off from somebody like this. I've tried, the past few times I've been around him, but he seems to get past the shield pretty quickly. He's had a lot more experience being a psychic predator than I've had trying to defend against one.

The thought crossed my mind that it's a shame my self-defense classes don't teach how to deal with psychic assaults, what the "Pre-Attack Indicators" are for somebody who plans to eat your soul.
Then I realize, they kind of do, at least in the title mantra. I don't need a pre-attack indicator, at least not anymore; I already know what he is. If I knew someone was a mugger, or a rapist, or a serial killer, my Plan 'A' would be to stay far, far away from them. I just need to keep him away from me.

So, I've put in paid-time-off requests for every single day he would have been scheduled to work with me. As far as my spiritual health goes, it is probably the single best use of my vacation time that I've ever thought of.
In the past I've let myself think, "well if I do that, then other people will have to deal with him", but you know what, I just have to protect me, and let them decide how to protect themselves.

I don't have the luxury of being the hero if I'm the most delicious thing on the menu.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Millstone

It's been a while since I wrote in here.  I should make a point of doing it more often, I think it is good for me.

So, I made it past the one-year mark of Jo's passing.  I think I'd be lying if I said it was easy.  I probably made it look easy though, I am good at making it look like I have it all together.  And in fairness to myself, I expect I'm a lot closer to having it back together than I was at this time last year.

I keep thinking about how my church's pastor went on a sabbatical--an actual one, traveling to various places for a spiritual healing journey--during the first quarter of this year, and specifically, the effect it seemed like it had on her.  I hadn't noticed how weary and broken her energy felt, until she came back and seemed like a different person.  Her energy was brighter, her outlook was positive, she was glowing in a way I hadn't seen before.  Honestly, it took a moment or two to recognize her, the difference was so great.  It was a change that I don't believe she could have created in herself, if she had tried to do it without stepping away from her day-to-day "grind."  She had to get herself away from the millstone that was wearing her down, so she could build herself back up.

It makes me wonder if such a thing would be good for me as well.  It's been over a year since Joanne passed now, and with the exception of starting a new interest, very little has changed--everything is basically still right where she left it.  Including me.
It is going to take a lot of energy to really rise from the ashes, and it is energy I'm never going to have as long as the millstone is relentlessly grinding away.

The thing is, she's left me in the place where I could be okay stepping away from daily obligations for a few months, with what I inherited from her.  I let myself worry about what would happen with my health insurance if I spent a few months unemployed, but I expect I could figure the logistics of that out.
More importantly, I would want it to be a 'real' sabbatical, like the one my pastor took.  I would need to figure out what it is I think I would need to be revivified, and then I would need to step away from the normal grind--all of it--and put all the energy I have left into doing that, so it can all come back to me magnified.
What I wouldn't want is to get to the end of the time I had, and look back and see that all I did was waste three months messing around on Facebook and that still nothing had changed, and I used the reserves Joanne left me for no benefit.  It was probably one of the most important things she did to abstain from social media of any sort during her sabbatical.

Right now it's just one of those things that I'm letting my mind play with.  To the extent that there's a process, I'm at the point of trying to figure out what it might be that I would need.  There's no point in doing it unless I know what "it" is.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

No More Ladies

I'm lamenting, this morning, the loss of decorum in our country. I get the concept of "reclaiming" words to somehow claim their power for ourselves, but I think the execution is off, especially recently.

My wife was a strong woman, and didn't let society tell her who she could and couldn't be--she told me of getting punished by her mother, when she was told she needed to get used to doing laundry so she could be a 'good wife' someday, for replying, "I'm going to *have* a wife someday, and then she can do the laundry." She was in the first class of women to be admitted to (and to graduate from) the US Air Force Academy, and then became a pilot in the Strategic Air Command. She didn't accept not being able to do something just because she was a woman.
What made her the most beautiful person I have ever known, though, was that even with her strength, even with all the boundaries she pushed, even as her body let her down and deteriorated, she never stopped being a lady. In the Air Force, despite being around salty language all the time, she made a point to never use that language. She talked about always wearing perfume when she was in her flight suit, so she could feel ladylike even in such a masculine-looking garment. I only heard her curse once, and it was when she was coming to my defense, on the phone with the con artist that stole my house in Missouri. She had a stoic grace about her that I can only hope to live up to someday.

And she would say to me often, as she would shake her head at the latest thing on the television, that there were "no such thing as ladies anymore;" that young women seemed not to even want to be ladylike, as if retaining their dignity and decorum was a negative thing somehow. As if being a 'lady' somehow made you weak, even though she was living proof that it didn't.

I understand that people are meaning well, but I can't bring myself to call myself a "nasty woman," and pretend it's a compliment and not an insult. Nor do I want to start using the 'P-word,' even referring to pink hats, just because a public figure was crude enough to be caught using the word on a "hot mic." I even lost interest in a group at my church when it was suggested we call ourselves "Women Getting [Excrement] Done." Sorry, but I don't really want to do [excrement]--I mean, I suppose we all do it, and I expect I could change a diaper if I needed to, but it feels like an odd thing to want to announce to the world. I guess I just don't know how we can continue to "co-opt" the things we find offensive, without becoming something offensive ourselves.
I know I am nowhere near as ladylike as my Joanne was--I can definitely be a bit more free with the salty language, sometimes--but it is what I aspire to. Even if it would make me an obsolete relic of times gone by.