Last night I was looking forward to going out with my husband. We had tickets to a local live event. It was going to be a fun night and I was honestly looking forward to it (I specify ‘honestly’ as I’ve been questioned about my desire to go, but it is not the desire that is the problem). When the time came to go, my stomach decided it did not want me to leave the house, actually, it didn’t want me to leave the bathroom. I was not sick, but I was in pain. Real, physical, pain.
Luckily, the pain was not so severe that I couldn’t override it. It came close, but because I knew I wanted to go and that I would feel even worse if I didn’t at least try. So I pushed myself out the door and into the car. I could barely stand up straight as I felt like I was being jabbed in the stomach with every movement. It then took another significant push to get myself out of the car and into the event (we actually sat in the parking lot till I could gather the strength to go in).
I realized that once in the door of the venue, it wasn’t the show that was the problem, or leaving my house, but the people. People that I didn’t know. I’m sure they are great people and were out to enjoy their evening, but it my head they were the enemy. An enemy that had the ability to see inside my mind and erase any sensible thought. I felt like I didn’t know anything, I could barely remember my name. All I could think was not to be sick, or trip and land on my face, or say something so ridiculously stupid that the room would go silent and everyone would know that I was an imposter. I felt sure it was obvious to everyone that I did not belong. They could surely see blood pounding in my veins. People would soon agree that I should be escorted out the door and back into the safety of my home. But I know enough not to believe everything I think. I know my thoughts deceive me at moments like this. So I stayed put. I breathed. I reminded myself that everything was going to be ok. I said my mantra “I am a strong and worthy person”. I tried to look like I belonged (however I don’t really know what it is to ‘look like I belonged’, but I tried).
For those that have never felt this, or anything even resembling this, I can understand how it could sound ridiculous. It sounds ridiculous as I write it. But please trust me when I say I am not exaggerating. The pain is real and the fear palpable, even when there is absolutely no reason behind it. Also, if you are curious, this does not happen every time I go out. In fact, it rarely happens anymore.
The show was thoroughly entertaining and I found myself laughing out loud. However, intermission was painful and it took every ounce of energy I had left in me not to run for the door. So the end of the show, I knew that I didn’t have anything left to even attempt conversation. Luckily, my husband knew this and we were the first out the door. I was beyond exhausted; I was physically, mentally and emotionally drained.
I am sharing this story as I know I am not alone. As much as my brain tells me I am the only crazy one that this happens to, I know that I am not. So if you, or someone you love, has physical pain even if there is no known reason for it, it does not make it any less real. Pain is pain.
So please proceed with kindness. Kindness towards yourself and anyone affected. No one needs a pity party, but respect and kindness are always appreciated.
PS. This is not to say I advocate for becoming a hermit or pretending that everything is fine when it is not. But it is just another example of how we never know what is happening in someone else’s mind or body at any given moment.