So The Husband and I went to a reunion over the weekend. It was at the camp where we met 30 years ago and where we got married over the summer. This same group had a reunion a couple of years ago, and The Husband went and had a great experience. He described the weekend as very laid back and they spent most of the time just hanging out and relaxing. I was looking forward to a weekend of hanging out, drinking beer, staying up late, sleeping in and reading a book.
That was not the plan for this reunion.
The first night was great. The guests arrived and we just sat around and laughed at old photos and each other.
There was a "group seminar" planned for the next morning and afternoon, or as I now refer to it, "The Nine Circles of Hell."
I knew I was in trouble when I walked in the room and there was a laptop and movie screen set up. I equate the phrase "Power Point Presentation" with waterboarding. Fortunately, it was a film and that spent up about an hour and a half of the seminar.
However, after the film is when things started to go south for me. At satellite-re-entering-the-atmosphere speed.
Yeah. Nothing I like more than sitting in a room of relative strangers discussing my feelings.
Did I mention that this was a christian church camp? Did I mention that I'm an atheist? Pretty much dredged up all those buried emotions I always had while at camp as a kid, because I never felt like I quite fit in.
Can you say "full-on panic attack" boys and girls?
About halfway through the afternoon session, my anxiety level had elevated to the point I was having to physically force myself to stay in my seat. I must have excused myself a half a dozen times to use the restroom, just so I could get out of that room.
My body knew better than my mind where I needed to be.
I swear, if the speaker had mentioned any role playing exercises, I would have stabbed every last person in that room in the neck with a ball point pen.
In hindsight, I should have excused myself about halfway through the first session. But, I didn't want to be rude and the woman who had put the weekend together had worked really hard to make everything come together and the guest speaker came all that way to make his presentation and I knew The Husband really wanted me to be there and...
Anyway, when it was FINALLY over, and AFTER we had a meeting to discuss the evening and next morning's activities, all I wanted to do was go off by myself and be alone, so I could breathe through the anxiety and make myself well. By that time, my body was just one raw nerve and I was physically exhausted.
For a place that's supposed to be a retreat, there are precious few places where one can be alone.
I went back to our room, and The Husband interpreted this to mean I wanted to fool around. He eventually left, and I tried to sleep, but then people started knocking on the door, wanting to know what I was doing.
It's really hard to make people understand that when I say I really just want to be alone for a while, they take that to mean that I really want as many people around me as possible, and that all those people need to ask me lots of questions, and make lots of noise.
I went outside and found a bench about 40 yards away from the building and sat down with a book. Whenever I'm cycling through a panic/anxiety attack, I need to focus my energy on something else, like a book or TV, so that it can run its course and I can calm myself.
I ended up moving to FOUR different out of the way spots to find a quiet corner to myself, because, as I foolishly thought, sitting way off in the woods by yourself is never interpreted as an invitation to a PAR-TAY.
So when I got to the fourth bench, who should come strolling straight toward me, my ex-roommate. The ex-roommate who, for most of our relationship has had nothing to offer me but criticism and disapproval.
I should back up as a sidebar, since I'm spilling. About 12 years ago, The Ex-Roommate informed me that homosexuality is an abomination in the eyes of the lord, and therefore I should not be friends with anyone who happened to be gay and stop all contact with my gay friends. I told her we should just agree to disagree, because I wasn't going to stop loving people, just because she told me to. She also sent me an email a few years ago, urging me to boycott the film "The Golden Compass" because it was written by an atheist. Actually, that would have only encouraged me to see it, because did I mention, I'm an ATHEIST?
This incident really opened my eyes to the relationship I had with her. Over the next several years, I began to see that the only role I had in her life was someone she could criticize and disapprove of. I felt like her personal emotional trash can. I had reached a point in my life where I finally figured out that I don't have to keep toxic people in my life, so I deleted her from my psyche.
I had managed to get through the previous 24 hours in the same space as her with our only contact as a handshake, but her timing could not have been worse. Since that was the fourth move I'd made to be ALONE, I knew I was almost to the point of no return, where I knew I would lose any control of my emotions or body.
So when I saw her walking straight toward me, I slammed my book shut, looked straight at her with a grunt of disgust, stood up, walked right past her and toward my room.
I know it was cruel and mean. However, had she tried to engage me in conversation at that point of the anxiety/panic attack cycle, I most likely would have called her a self-righteous cunt and suggested she could go fuck herself.
I think I make the better choice.
So that pretty much sent me over the edge, and I had to spend the remainder of the weekend holed up in my room. However, this did not mean I got to be alone, because, again, people took that as an invitation to knock on my door, time and time again,until the wee hours of the morning, to see what I was doing. And I learned that apparently my parents were the only parents in the ENTIRE world who taught their children to be quiet while walking in hotel halls, and not slam the doors, because SOMEONE MIGHT BE TRYING TO SLEEP. Or work through a panic/anxiety attack.
I have to give credit to The Husband though. He has not yet had the viewing pleasure of one of my anxiety/panic attacks, but he knew exactly what to do. He was quiet, left me alone, and the next morning got me an ice cold Dr. Pepper, and got me out of there as quickly as possible, without any human contact.
The minute we got on the highway , I finally started to breathe.
You know, there's a reason people go thirty years without seeing one another.