Sunday, October 21, 2012

Irrational Fears

I realized something profound on Friday afternoon when I forgot my lunch. And by "forgot" I mean I purposely didn't bring anything so I had an excuse to buy a mushroom-swiss burger from the country cookin' restaurant next door to my store. Because DH and TD are highly allergic to mushrooms, I can't even have them in the house. DH is actually sensitive enough that he will get sick inhaling the steam from mushrooms cooking. We have had to leave several open-kitchen style restaurants because we sat too close to the kitchen while they were sauteing them. This means if I want them, I have to get them while I am not at home and when the are not with me. To say this sucks is a major understatement. I really love mushrooms. A lot.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the epiphany.

So, as I stood outside my shop door, about to cross the parking lot to get my burger for lunch, I suddenly felt an old, familiar tightness in my chest. No, it wasn't longing or pain.

It was fear.

At first I wasn't sure what the fear was from, so I fought the panic down and forced myself to move.forward. I had to analyze the thoughts racing through my mind to figure out what the hell was going on. Was it being outside instead of safe in the store? No. I was RELIEVED to be away from my bully of boss and the emotional outbursts of my co-workers. It wasn't the fear that I was about to overdraft the bank account by eating out. I've managed to get the accounts under control and the cost of a burger isn't going to kill my budget anymore. The, the fear crept up again as I pulled the door open and attempted to navigate the crowded restaurant to get to the check-out counter. Do you know how crazy it is to feel fear and confusion at once when there is no apparent reason why? It actually wasn't until after I paid for my burger and rushed out with my half-and-half sweet tea that I was able to pinpoint the source of my anxiety.

I was afraid of walking.

I was simultaneously relieved to find the source of my fear, and confused as to why the simple act of walking would cause such a negative reaction. So, I spent the next five minutes wolfing down my incredibly satisfying burger and re-analyzing my thoughts. Pictures and sensations sped across my brain again and I tried to piece them together in some sort of logical sequence. What I found out about myself was both disturbing and sad.

It turns out I wasn't really afraid of walking, specifically. I was actually afraid of tripping and twisting my ankle. Or running into one of the tables or chairs. Or walking face-first into the door that opens by pulling instead of pushing. It may sound like a crazy sort of "What If" but I do this sort of thing ALL THE TIME as well as smacking my hands across things, squashing my fingers between things, and bashing my elbows against things. No place is safe from my clumsiness. While working for a major cell phone manufacturing company, I once went flying, face first, across the floor in front of the international vice president. I missed the bottom stair at an apartment complex and broke my ankle. In New Orleans, on my honeymoon, I tripped so many times walking through the French Quarter that I was in pain from my hips to my toes for three weeks. The most recent time was just a few weeks ago when I was rushing up some concrete steps and I tripped on the top stair and went sprawling. I've still got a scar on my knee and shin from that one.

I've been thinking about this all weekend and I believe this fear is actually bigger than just being afraid of tripping. At the root of it, I'm afraid of causing myself more pain. Because of the FM, twisting my ankle will hurt for days instead of hours and it will throw off my gait which will likely cause me to hurt elsewhere, like my hips or my back. And it's not just tripping that I'm afraid of, either. Anything that can cause me more pain than I'm already in is starting to cause me anxiety. Walking through a crowd of people when my muscles are already tender to the touch causes my stomach to tense. The same goes for yard work, doing laundry, and shopping at Wal Mart. This fear of potential pain-causing activities is why I sometimes stand instead of sitting while watching TV or eating and why I can't seem to make myself go for a walk or do the prescribed exercises the doctor gave me.

Now that I've figured out the mystery, what do I do about it? I can at least say that I haven't let this fear completely stop me from living my life, but it is making an impact. If I acknowledge it and fight through it, is it even something to worry about? Or will ignoring it (since I can't do anything about it) cause it to get worse?  In the past, many of the irrational fears I have had are usually related to a specific event or activity, like being afraid of (what's in) the dark and being afraid of grocery shopping because of not having enough money. The fear of walking or pain, though?  How do I combat THAT?

Deb "Scaredy Cat" Lollar

1 comment:

  1. Is it the fear of ongoing pain, or is it possibly a fear of humiliation or embarrassment? Or maybe a bit of both?

    Fears are just feelings, and feelings aren't supposed to be the boss of us.