This past year I’ve been trying to understand more of how I am feeling – where are mine (hidden with numbing) and what is it? Never an easy task.
The emotion, anxiety, is something I think I label when I didn’t know what was happening to me. It was the ‘catch all’ emotion for those that I had trouble dealing with or hadn’t yet identified. The majority of what I perceive to be ‘true’ anxiety happens before a blessed visit with my in-laws. This anxiety could come 2,5 months before the planned event. It would reach the surface when I would organise my house (some benefits) and I would start to control things with DH often of which would turn into arguments without much weight.
This last time I was more aware of the anxiety and I tried a lot of the stuff I’ve read – like remembering to take deep breaths. This seemed to really help whenever I thought about the event coming up. Focusing on the actual process of breathing helped me reduce how overwhelmed I would feel from thinking about it. It was a daily struggle.
This past visit to my in-laws the most interesting thing happened to me. I think I experienced fear and anxiety in the same situation (hindsight speaking)? Here’s what happened:
The last night of our visit DH and I ran some errands to pick up a few things to bring back with us. He dropped me off at Barnes & Noble bookstore and he went to the store next door. It was Saturday night at 9:20 pm.
I was searching for some books in the Psychology and Self-Improvement sections of the store. The store was for the most part empty. A few were browsing the magazine and sales sections of the store and I had the self-help section to myself. I was leisuring going through each row and then I had to go through the bottom row. Since there was no one around I sat on the ground and made my way through the last row of the shelves. I was so engrossed in searching for these book but not too engrossed to register that a woman started walking down my aisle (me on the the floor still). Then, all of a sudden I almost got hit in the face by the woman’s purse. I jumped and immediately said: ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ She didn’t respond right away – which I registered. Then, she says (which is somewhat delayed): ‘oh, I suppose it would be difficult to see the books on the last row.’ I responded: ‘yeah, it is’ and I continued my search.
A few minutes go by and I find one of the books I was looking for. I continue to the other end of the aisle at the last shelf (now standing). The stranger turns to me and asks me what book I found. I decide to respond thinking she can clearly read the title as she is almost right next to me in the aisle.
(I tell her the title.)
Stranger: That is an interesting book; what is it about?
Me: (I read her a sentence from the back cover.)
Stranger: Oh, really? that sounds interesting, how did you hear about that one
Me: A friend recommended it*
Stranger: oh, that is interesting
Me: I’ll see how it turns out
I turn my body back towards the shelf and 15 seconds go by when I hear:
Stranger: you know you can get these books for half off at this place called ‘Discount Books’. They are second hand.
She continues to talk and at this point I stop listening. I began to feel irritated because I wanted to meet DH at the other store before it closed and secondly, I clearly have no interest in second hand books if I’m at this store (harsh thought in what I think is a response to the irritation).
After what seems like a sales pitch, I respond: ‘Thanks for the tip’ and I physically again turn my body again in search of the other books on my list. As I make my way towards the other end of the aisle she begins:
Stranger: I’ve been reading about how to move on from my past (she points to a chapter in the book she is holding) since I was in this relationship that broke my heart – he hasn’t been able to move on from his past and I have and…(she continues to give me an example about her ex-boyfriend’s communication with his ex-wife).
(When she was finally done)
Me: It sounds like you know what you need to do and books can help. (I turn towards the shelf again)
Stranger: There was this one time when I noticed that he purposely left a cooler at her house (again another example…blah, blah)
Bookstore Loud Speaker: 15 minutes until we close; we re-open at 10am tomorrow
Stranger: blah, blah (she continues on and then she begins a third one)
Me: (I interrupt her) I need to go; good luck finding what you need.
As I was putting one of the books back on the shelf she says:
Stranger: Let me just finish the story by saying that he…
That was my exit cue and as I was leaving the aisle I saw her friend come up to her.
I checked out of the store with one book* and ran to meet DH at the store next door and I told him what had happened. There are so many elements of this story that are unreal – even telling the story for a second time here I see a lot of ways anxiety was there before fear registered.
* The book I was holding (and purchased) was ironically The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker. Thank you, Judy, for the recommendation.
Through the Looking Glass: Name that Feeling: the Amygdala Hijack
Caliban’s Sisters: Pattern Recognition vs. the Parental Present