I’m standing here on the ground
The sky above won’t fall down
Resolution of happiness
Things have been dark for too long…
Goo Goo Dolls, “Don’t Change”
More and more I find that I have to force myself out of bed in the morning to get ready for work. And more and more I have to force myself to leave the house, get in the car, and drive off down the road.
Sometimes it’s an unconscious knowledge of the responsibility I have, a gentle reminder that I’m going to a place I enjoy, doing work that interests me, and spending time with people with whom I’m comfortable. Sometimes I’m able to clear the tired fog from my mind, say goodbye to Riley, and step outside into the cool morning air before giving it a second thought.
Other times, it’s sounds more like a personal admonishment of “Susan, get your foot out that damned door.”
On the weekends, I tend to hibernate, hiding under the covers in my room and giving into the fatigue or curling up on the couch with movies or a book or my laptop. I make evening plans out with good friends; I think of all the errands I should be running in the free afternoons — groceries to buy, items to return. I think of all the places I could go and the people I could see, and I’m excited and eager until that time approaches and excitement turns to an inexplicable discomfort.
And I don’t know where it’s coming from.
Once upon a time, when I was tackling my anxiety disorder back in high school, there were days when that fear kept me cemented in place. I would force myself out the door and drive out of my neighborhood, only to turn back around, park my car in the driveway, and run into the house in a fitful of tears. I was afraid to leave the house then, so consumed by panic that something would happen while I was away from my perceived comfort zone.
There are shades of the familiar here, and yet this feels different. Maybe it’s because I’m a different person than I was then; maybe it’s because I can now notice it for what it is. But this doesn’t have that familiar strain of panic; this doesn’t have those recognizable sensations of dread.
Still, I can’t figure out what keeps me indoors. Is it the cold and gloom of winter that makes me want to hibernate, where during the summer I’m all for spontaneous road trips, eager for long drives and adventure? Is it just this incredible fatigue and recent emotional upheaval that is burying everything else, masking and presenting itself as that familiar fear?
I’m not sure, but I do know that I’m trying my best to push through it in what feels like quiet personal victories.
This past weekend, a dear friend was celebrating her 30th birthday, inviting a few friends and myself out to dinner a couple of towns over. The thought of going somewhere I’d never been filled me with unease rather than the thrill of discovering someplace new.
Susan, you went to France for three weeks, remember that? I tried to tell myself, you navigated a foreign country on your own. Surely you can go to dinner and help a friend celebrate. And if you get lost, you find your way again.
I got lost. I found my way. I was so happy to be there for her.
Susan: 1. Irrational emotions: 0.
A couple of weeks ago I eagerly accepted an invitation for a local tweetup after work. It had been a long, long time since I’d been to one, and I was looking forward to meeting many of the new faces with whom I’d been conversing online for months.
Yesterday dragged by slowly, and as the day wore on, familiar thoughts began to invade: What if I can’t find a parking space? What if I’m not feeling well enough? What if I don’t have anything to say to anyone? What if it’s uncomfortable when we meet? What if, what if, what if.
Susan, you love meeting new people. And, Susan, you always have something to say. You’ll find a parking spot, you’ll excuse yourself and go home when you feel tired, and you’ll enjoy yourself when you’re there.
I found a parking spot. I met some great new people and saw old friends. I had a blast.
Susan: 2. Irrational thoughts: 0.
I can’t fully explain what I’m feeling, nevermind even begin to figure out the reasons behind it, but I resolve not to let it keep me in hiding. I’m pushing through that, learning, yet again, how to emerge from my comfort zone and let life pleasantly surprise me.
One foot out the door at a time.