I found our new home this weekend. I drove down to Maryland Thursday, stayed with Greg, looked at the apartment complexes I made appointments to see, chose the best one for us, and drove back Sunday.
This was a huge deal. I spent several years homebound due to severe anxiety, paranoia and panic attacks. My teeth, body, mind, and marriage rotted from the disabling fear to leave the house, and this weekend I drove over twelve hours to a different state and back alone for the first time. And I enjoyed it!
I can’t explain the freedom I felt in not being scared or nervous during this trip. I even took a faster, easier way to 390S, forgoing the myriad right and left turns through town by hopping on the highway. Each time I completed another stage of the trip, I (and the kitties via ESP) congratulated myself out loud. I need to approach life the same way. Focus on one step at a time, savor the accomplishment of making it, then focus on the next step.
I remember forcing myself to walk up the street from our house (the now ex’s and mine) to the local library to pick up books on hold when we lived in Colorado. It couldn’t have been more than a few hundred feet away, but I believed everyone was staring at me through their windows in the houses I passed. Staring and seeing how ugly and horrible a person I was inside and out as I consciously counted my breath–inhale for four, hold for seven, exhale for eight–to keep from succumbing to a severe panic attack.
I dreaded the few times I had to drive during this period. Stoplights were a constant source of terror. If I had to stop at a red light and was sandwiched between two cars (no easy way to escape), I’d struggle to focus on my breath or a song or voice on the radio, and count the change I kept in a small compartment by the steering wheel until the light turned green. If I had to drive through road construction where they placed concrete “borders,” I had to fight the strong urge to crash into them. If I drove on a bridge, I had to fight the desire to drive off of it.
I remembered all of this as I drove to Maryland and back this weekend. I drove past concrete borders and over bridges, and a flicker of fear arose that in remembering, I’d conjure up those impulses. The faintest shadow passed over me. I let it come, and then let it go. And I sang along to the radio.