At 8:22 PM last night my dad texted me, my husband, and my sister that lives with me to ask if we would like to travel down to Provo and meet up with him, my grandma, and one of my aunts. I didn’t want to go. I like things to be planned at least three days in advance, and I prefer to be made aware of them a week in advance. He also said that we would be meeting at a buffet style restaurant, called Golden Corral. I have a love hate relationship with buffet style restaurants, because they give me precise control over my food, but people can see you picking it out. But I love my grandma, and I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like to, so I did the adult thing… I texted my husband to tell my dad we would be there.
This morning I got up and spent the hours of 7:30-10:30 AM getting ready. First I smoked a cigarette, because I knew I was going to be stressed out, then I got a shower and blow dried my hair, then I got my hair wet again because my bangs were being weird. Then I got dressed. Then I shaved every inch of skin that showed under my clothes, except my head hair and eyebrows. Then I fixed my hair, but my arms got tired before I was done, because I just couldn’t get it right, and I had to keep cutting the elastics out. My husband, thank god for him, came and did it for me. Then I did my makeup, and we were running late, but I had to smoke another cigarette before we got in the car because I was shaking, nauseous, and my heart was racing. I kept telling myself that it really wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t go, and then telling myself it would be super bad because then my dad, and my grandma, and my aunt would be disappointed and annoyed at me. So at 10:30, which was half an hour after we were supposed to leave, we piled in the car and left.
I tried to write on the way, but I was shaking and anxious. I spent a good portion of the trip lifting my iPads cover up and letting it fall back into place over and over. I realized because I have been paying attention to what I do more now that I’m blogging about my mental health that it was a compulsion, but I let myself keep doing it because at least it helped me feel a little better. I also spent the whole trip vaping.
The ride to Provo was supposed to take an hour and a half, but somehow we made it there in an hour, and we pulled up right as my dad was heading into the restaurant with my step mom and step brother. I should have counted on him bringing them, it only makes sense that they were there, but I hadn’t, so now there were two more people to stress about. My husband popped open his door as soon as we got there and waited for me as I mentally braced myself, sighed, and then got out of the car as quickly as I could, like ripping off a bandaid.
As we walked up to the restaurant, I needed to take the sidewalk, but my husband b-lined for the door. I felt so exposed walking alone across the parking lot, but my sister was kind of waffling back and forth between us, so I called her over to me, and that felt better. We talked a little bit about how awkward the situation had made us feel, and then we were inside. My dad greeted us with a hug, and told us that my grandma and aunt weren’t there yet, and added that my sister in law was coming too, and my uncle was on his way with what sounded like a huge number of people. I don’t remember his exact words because the blood was pounding in my ears, and I’m sure my eyes were bugging out of my head. My husband put his arm around me and said, “Well, that’s too many names, we’re leaving,” and although I absolutely agreed with him, I treated it like a joke. Right about then my aunt told us that my grandma and she were already there and had a table waiting for us, so we got our drinks and sat down.
There was some light conversation that I mostly don’t remember because I was too busy tucking my hair behind my ear, another of my compulsions, but I did talk to my aunt about doing some stylized pictures of her cats for her, which is something I like to do. My dad asked if anyone wanted to go get some food, but no one else looked like they were leaving, so I stayed because I was not going to walk along that counter to get my food by myself. Then my uncle came and brought three of my cousins, which was a relief since I felt like there had been way more names in the list my dad had rattled off earlier.
Then the unthinkable happened, my cousin, the oldest of those that had come with my uncle, came over to chat with me. My brain was like, “OMG, what do I do to keep from embarrassing myself in front of this cool, pretty girl, who is so put together? I think she just got back from Scotland, too, and I don’t remember why she was there, was she on a mission? Was she there for school? If she finds out I don’t remember she’s going to think I don’t care, or worse she’s going to hate me!” I wanted to crawl under the table and die.
Miraculously, I stayed put. Actually it was not a miracle, because crawling under the table would have been way more embarrassing. But we talked about why she was in Scotland, it was an internship with the Scottish Parliament, actually, and we caught up on recent events. It was nice, and I started calming down a bit. She asked what I’d been doing lately, and despite thinking briefly about crawling under the table again to avoid saying that I’m unemployed, I told her I’ve been blogging, and that I am working on a book. As it so happens, she has a blog of her own, and she’s about to get a degree in English. So after we ate I moved down to her end of the table and we just talked and talked. We talked about my blog, and her blog, and her time in Scotland, and we talked about anxiety. She has just recently been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, so we had a lot of fun talking about the things we have in common, and the things that are different. Despite the fact that I felt like I was literally vibrating from the anxiety of sitting there with her I had a really good time. I was even okay with my husband leaving for a while to do some shopping, normally I would have begged him to stay, or left with him. She even read the first chapter of my book, which was a wonderfully terrifying experience for me. She gave me some good insight, and I’ll be tweaking it after I finish with this post.
Still, when my husband came back, that meant it was time to go, and I was ready to get out of there. I got a super long hug from my uncle, which was nice, and said good by to every one else. I felt immediately guilty for not giving everyone an individual farewell, but my ride was leaving, and I could so not walk out of the restaurant with just my sister. I know I walked out of there, but it felt like I ran because my heart was beating so fast. When I got in the car the anxiety struck again, super hard, and I couldn’t stop repeating the same things over and over as we talked on the way home. Fortunately, my husband is really good at calming me down and eventually I started breathing normally and being able to think again, even if the thoughts I was thinking were that I should really have spent more time talking to my grand ma, and how I hoped my dad didn’t think I don’t love him because I didn’t give him a hug goodbye.
It is now 6:14 PM. Almost 24 hours since I got the text from my dad, and I am still amped up. I am pleased with myself for going, certainly, and very excited about sharing my book with my cousin, but I still can’t stop thinking about my dad. This is what it is like to have social anxiety, and OCD. Even though it’s over, I am still obsessing about it. If my hands weren’t busy, and my mind weren’t occupied by writing this post, I’d have picked at my skin until I was a bloody mess right now. But I keep telling myself that it’s ok, and sooner or later I’ll believe it. I’m going to stop writing now, so I can call my dad to tell him I love him, and get my mind off of today’s events by working on my novel. Hopefully.
By the way, if any of you want to check out my cousin’s blog click here. She’s an amazing person, and her blog is well worth the read!