Cooped Up

The wires are getting tighter.

Yesterday ended on a bad note.

Halfway through my day at work, I had a panic attack. Sudden, shaking, throat-clenching, heart, racing and pounding at the same time, chest tight with fear. I couldn’t look around, just knowing that everyone was staring at me. (They weren’t, logic tells me this, but panic doesn’t recognize logic)

I had to tell my supervisor I had to leave right now, and she understood. She knows what’s been going on, some of what I’ve been dealing with with E, & that my anxiety has been bad. But this panic attack kind of took the cake.

When I got home, it was all I could do not to crawl under my covers & hide. As it was, I had sharp, stabbing pains in my stomach, more blessings brought by the panic fairies, thanks, & had to curl up with a heating pad till they faded.  Thank all the gods for antianxiety meds…even if they make me groggy in higher doses.

I couldn’t even talk to my Beloved Nephew on the phone last night, it was just too much. I needed the silence, the darkness, the….nothingness….

And today, it seemed as though it lingered, yet. It’s not completely gone. But, then, until this situation with E is resolved, until I know that he’s out of my life for good, I will remain wire-tight…and that’s going to be rough.

Case in point…

I had to go to Hellmart today, to stock up on supplies for OnlySon’s graduation party. I wore my earbuds while shopping, as usual, so was OK for most of it. But, when I got in line, there was this one woman who got in line behind me, who almost sent me over the edge into another panic attack.

Or, I almost attacked her. 

One or the other.

See, I have this thing about Personal Space.

I like some.

Especially around strangers.

And she got up in mine.

Like, really CLOSE.

LIKEREALLYREALLYCLOSE.

As I maneuvered myself around my cart, putting some distance between us, she closed in again…and I angled the cart to prevent it. She glanced my way, as I quickly looked down to avoid her eyes. Eye contact is to be avoided at all costs to maintain personal space, folks.

For a minute, I thought she was going to move my cart, she came so close to putting her hands on it, I was actually going through responses in my head, ranging from a simple “Don’t” to a more direct “You need to take 3 steps back, Now.” And, I had a fleeting thought that, from the look she gave my cart, she really contemplated rifling through my stuff, including my purse.

My hands clenched, my face heated, my chest tightened, & I could feel my breathing getting shallower, the closer I got to the cashier. I needed it to end, quickly, so I could get the hell away from there, & her. 

As I told a friend, later, you could almost SEE the porcupine quills standing up off my skin as I stood there.

Luckily, I was able to get the cart angled across the aisle in such a way that the woman couldn’t get any closer to me, & I got my stuff paid for & escaped the store as soon as I could.

But, it was as close as I’ve gotten to losing my shit in public as I ever have.

Ever.

Not exactly feeling like the most stable chicken in the coop right now…

So, it’s back to the lab for the benefits of modern chemistry.

And a heartfelt prayer to KwanYin, for some serious guidance for one of her children in serious need.

Just Call Me Alice

What do you do, once you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole, dusted yourself off, and realized you’ve followed that white-furred thing into a place you don’t recognize?

How do you get yourself back to a place of sanity, to some semblance of normalcy when everything around you seems to be running amok?

There’s a part of me right now that’s running on fear.

And I don’t know which way to turn.

But, there’s another part of me that fiercely screams out – We will NOT run away! We will stand firm & defend our ground! We will come out the other side of this stronger & better than we went in, even if the fire burns us, we will rise from the ashes as the phoenix! Get up, bitch!”

I like her better than the coward.

But, still, at times, I find my hands shaking, my stomach queasy, unable to eat, or think clearly. Anxiety sets in, and the panic attacks are coming more frequently.

It’s getting a little frayed around the edges, and I’m afraid that July is going to be a really rough month.

He’s coming here in July- or so he claims.

He was subtle, convinced me of so many sweet things, showed me such a bright future…Kept me dangling on such a long string with the pretty treats always just out of reach for so long.

Then came the manipulation. And the emotional blackmail. The secrets & the lies. The broken promises, the plausible excuses, piling up, until it was hard to crawl out from underneath them.

And now, he says he’s finally going to live up to every single word he ever spoke, all at once.

After I told him I was Done – I’m out. Finished. Full stop.  

He insists that he’s got to come, and nothing I say will stop him. 

He says he will right the wrongs, win me back, fix everything.

I said No.

But what the fuck do I know, right?

There is no going back for me.

I’m O.U.T.

Full STOP.

Go home.

Jen doesn’t live here anymore.

Call me Alice.


I Am Not… I Am…

I am not a hand-covered giggle…

I am a low, husky, evil-coated chuckle.

I am not a soft-petaled rose, dainty & fragrant.

I am a dandelion, feral, rugged, considered by some a weed, by some a flower, & by some just a pest. But I am nearly impossible to eradicate, have a zillion purposes & manage to find ways to pop up everywhere I want to, & some places that seem impossible. I am ninja that way.

I am not a 4-star restaurant, catering to the rich & famous, with French cuisine, linen napkins & tiny servings of impossible to pronounce foods.

I am a Mom&Pop diner, serving comfort food, barely making ends meet, serving meals to homeless folks on a picnic table out back when I get a free minute, because I can’t stand to see hungry faces.

I am not an average day at the beach. (ha-ask around, the laughter will tell you)

I am a slow wander through a darkened forest, with a very high chance of getting lost, because there is no path to follow. But then…there are all those interesting places to find, too…

I am not a light beer to be chugged, because you want to finally get to second base with that blonde…

I am that dark, smoky bourbon you’ve been dying to sip, slowly, decadently, all evening, next to the fire.

I am not a coy, flirtatious sidelong glance, eyes lowered quickly away…

I am the frank appraisal, genuine appreciation and eyebrow lifted. 

I am not water-cooler small talk, or office gossip.

I am the thoughtful pause before the insight.

I am not a young thing, any longer, but that does not preclude me from being vital.

I am deeper, richer, far more now than I ever was back then.

I contain multitudes, universes, infinities, within me now, that did not exist then.

I am so much more than I was…

You should see me now…..

But you won’t

Because you have your eyes closed.

Selfie

I am self-reliant.

It’s something I pride myself on, my independence, my ability to stand on my own two. It’s seen me through a lot of tough times, & shown me that I can do a lot more than I ever thought I was capable of.

But that’s also how I was raised.

My parents are strong, independent people. Born in the mid-40s, they were raised by parents who taught them that hard work was its own reward; that success was not about making millions, but was about achieving personal goals, while being a good, caring person at the same time. I’ve strived to emulate that same strength of character. 

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about myself while getting my hands dirty, too. As my dad has always said, “Shit washes off”, so I dig into a job, getting filthy in the process, waiting till it’s finished before I clean up. Then I can sit back & enjoy the results of my labors. 

Of course, there are some things that are sacrificed in the process. 

My clothes, for example…

I have some that are permanently stained, torn & stretched, frayed & ruined beyond redemption due to wearing them while doing this type of work. 

*sigh*

My hands…

Although skin replaces itself & heals, the scratches & calluses are there, temporarily, & the arthritis- well, that is there permanently, & vehemently objects, but I insist right back just as obstinately.  And I win. For now, anyway.

I’ll pay for it later.  I know. 

But, the benefits I’ll reap from this are good enough for me. 

I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that I took care of my mowing myself. I trimmed the bushes in the backyard. I raked & cleaned up the trash by the fence. I was the one who started cutting down the trees by the fence with the chainsaw. (got stopped by the rain – can’t use an electric chainsaw in the rain…Right?)

It’s enough for me to know that – I am the one who can do these things.

I – don’t need anyone to do these things for me. 

I might want someone to share my life with…

But I don’t need them to breathe.

I am my own selfie.

Exit Strategy

Graduation approaches swiftly, & I’m heavily in planning mode.

OnlySon has his cap & gown, & is eagerly awaiting the day he can kick high school to the curb.

He has requested Texas chocolate cake (a much-beloved recipe of our family’s) for his graduation party, which will be held at my house after the ceremony.

And…it’s going to be a joint party for my son…with his father, my ex-husband.

I know the ex really only wants to do a joint party because he doesn’t want to be bothered with having to plan a party, buy the supplies, host the damned thing, clean up afterwards, yadda, yadda, yadda… It’s always been his MO, to make me do all the work when it came to this sort of thing, while taking a share of the credit. Asshat. 

He says he’s bringing a second cake (he works as a baker at a grocery store here in town, so OnlySon requesting a homemade scratch recipe has wounded his pride, I’m sure), but I know his family… I’m making 2 of my cakes, just to make sure there’s some left for my family.

All the while, my anxiety has me in heavy emergency exit-strategy mode.

Except…

How do you get away from someone when they’re at your home? And they bring their family with them? Their very loud, very confrontational, very Greek, family? (If you’re picturing My Big Fat Greek Wedding in your head…Yep, you’re seeing the right people).

If anyone gets up in my face, I’m going to have a tough time holding my cool.  I will try, for my son’s sake…

But, as I’m passing out pieces of cake, I might be tempted…