Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Fear of agoraphobia

"Well I don't know where it all begins, and I don't know where it all will end."

Got him. Them.

Finally, the elusive gray heron. Herons. Two.

I really should take my good camera and take it on every walk, because I always see something I wish I could capture. On Sunday Neil and I came around a bend on the path around the lake. Neil spotted it - an egret. Perched on the roof of a two-story house. Like a weathervane. I said I wonder if it's real, and, as if to mock me, the egret turned its head. What are the chances I'll ever get that shot again?

Neil and I have been trying to decide where to go on vacation this year and it's been an Abbott and Costello routine, or maybe George and Gracie. I make a suggestion and he shoots it down, he makes a suggestion and I shoot it down.

Front runners are Acadia National Park in Maine, Great Smoky in North Carolina and Yellowstone in Wyoming (and Montana and Idaho). Bryce and Arches and Canyonlands are on the list but too hot for the middle of the summer. I live in Texas, I want to go somewhere cool (literally) on vacation.

Acadia includes mountains, an ocean shoreline, woodlands, and lakes. The mountains offer hikers and bicycle riders views of the ocean, island lakes, and pine forests. Cadillac Mountain, located on Mount Desert Island within Acadia has an elevation of 1,528 feet. (From Wikipedia) It is the tallest mountain along the eastern coast of the United States.

So why am I worried about what we'll do there? We aren't much for beach sitting. I always want to hike and to challenge myself. There are visitor centers, museums, gardens, hiking, biking, climbing, ranger programs, guided tours, and nearby federal parks, state parks, and wildlife refuges. There are plump lobsters and wild blueberries. There's a flamework and hot glass shop in Rockport. There are tons of reasonable bed and breakfasts. I've never been to Maine.

Great Smoky and other attractions in North Carolina would be at the top of our list, except that I've become obsessed with LeConte Lodge, the one you have to hike up to, the one that books a year in advance. There has been so much snow and ice this season that the llamas just made their first trip up yesterday with supplies.

They usually go up three times a week, but they're doing a back to back trip today, although today's team will consist of seven different llamas. Llamas do have their limits.

We're on the wait list for a week in late July but I'd hate to count on cancellations and the likelihood of planning a trip on short notice, or not at all. We'd be better off making a plan to go in 2014.

I threw Yellowstone into the mix. I finally got to Yosemite last year and I loved it. The wallpaper on this blog is from photos I took at Yosemite. Neil was not enthused. He says it's because the park gets ridiculously crowded in summer, despite being miles from nowhere. I suspect he has some fear of bears and wolves, which is the same reason I think he booked a bus tour through Glacier National Park last year, instead of making a plan to go hiking.

I just checked and against all odds there is some lodge availability at Yellowstone in July. It's not dirt cheap but not out of the ballpark either. Now I'm really tempted. Let's see what the boss man has to say about it.

It would be great to have a plan, just so we can stop stressing about it. Planning our vacations can be so stressful that sometimes I just don't want to leave home.

Without much encouragement, I could see myself becoming agoraphobic. I thought that meant fear of leaving home, but a little research revealed no such specific phobia. Agoraphobia is the fear of open spaces or of being in crowded, public places like markets. Also, the fear of leaving a safe place, which is what home is, so it fits for the most part.

Maybe fear isn't the right word. Maybe it is just laziness or disinterest or lack of motivation to go anywhere. I have my little circuit, the post office, the bank, the library. Starbucks, Jamba Juice. Hair, nails, massages. Doctors and dentists. T.J. Maxx and Ross. Jemco, Michaels, JoAnn's, Hobby Lobby. Lowes. Academy. I guess I'm not hopeless.

Yesterday the main reason to go out was three packages to mail, two frit orders and the replacement beads for my patron customer whose beads were stolen. I managed to put that off until mid-afternoon because I decided to do an inventory of my bead sets.

That turned out to be a brilliant thing because, and I have no clue how this happened, only about half my bead sets are listed on Etsy. You can't sell them if you don't list them. The upside is, if I do any shows this season, I will have bead sets to sell. Long ago I decided to keep my show inventory and online inventory separate. I'll probably list some of the unlisted sets on Etsy but unless they all sell out, I will earmark the rest for shows. And a few that I may restring into ebay orphan samplers.

I finally went to the post office and dropped off the parcels. The feeling that I should be making beads was nagging at me. I mean, the weather is still nice enough and soon it will be summer and I'll be sweating and miserable in my garage studio. So I dutifully went out and cranked out a few focals and a lot of spacers and my first try at a bead set in the Pantone Fall 2013 color trend palatte.

Acai and Vivacious were the most challenging. If any glass company comes out with those colors, the flamework glass community will be ecstatic, elated, enchanted, enraptured, and euphoric.

Here are the beads I made. Pretty good, no?

I need a segue-way here to take you back to 1999, where my story now takes on elements of drama noir.

How about this. It was a dark and stormy winter.

My divorce was final in February 1999. The judge signed the decree one year and one day from the date of my petition.

I was doing OK on the whole. I wrote to Nick.
I think I am really as stable as I am likely to be, meds or no meds. I'm going to try a therapy-exercise-diet-sleep (I hope)-relaxation-vitamins only approach for now. I am feeling really good right now. I am hopeful that I am really in recovery.
Nick wasn't doing as well. He'd broken up with his girlfriend again, which as before provoked severe anxiety.
I haven't seen or spoken with my ex-girlfiend for 'bout 7 weeks. It's so weird. When you grow up in a house that's on fire you have a tendency to walk back into burning houses. It's hard to see them as dangerous. They just look like home to me.
He was suffering from tinnitus and facing surgeries for his sinuses and a lower abdominal hernia.
The dizziness, fear and the ever increasing tinnitus has got me to the point that I don't care whether I live or die. I mean it.

And ... just to spice it all up, depression and anxiety from hell with a shitty response to medication.
I was unbelieving at first when he told me he was addicted to pain meds.
I'm having a real difficult time with my pain meds. I believe I am hooked on 'em. I've got the symptoms. The doc knew this and said we'd just have to step you down off of them when we get the pain managed. I'm still scared.

This is not good. If nothing else, I could use a kind word and a sympathetic something ... maybe a word of encouragement.
Not just unbelieving. Downright heartless and flippant. I thought he was attention-seeking.
No Nick, I don't think you are addicted to muscle relaxants or the crap they are allowed to prescribe OTC. It's in your head, my dear.

So, how was that for a kind word or a sympathetic something?
That hurt him.
I never would have believed that you could be so cold.

The OTC they're giving me is Demerol and Percodan - triplicate script shit. And there is no doubt about it, I am physically, and becoming psychologically dependent on these opiates.

I do not think I have another recovery in me. Eight years ago I knew, or I believed it was my last chance. Now, each night I am finding myself using the drugs for the psychological benefit instead of the intended purpose - the pain.
I still wasn't groking. To this day I don't know why I was so dense, so insensitive.
I confess - I am really your mother. Brrrrr.

Think about this: What is the payoff for being addicted to the pain meds, Nicholas?
I'm surprised that he answered.
You asked what was the payoff to becoming addicted to drugs. It's like a mini-suicide. You get to not experience yourself and others without giving up the ghost I guess. But sometimes people give up the ghost unwittingly while taking drugs.
I was starting to worry just a little bit, but still thought he was playing the victime card.
No, I meant what is the payoff for you - today - for believing you are addicted to your pain meds? You are choosing/creating your state of mind - this is very important.
Then things got much worse.
I'm alive ... but I don't see the point of it.

The revisitation of the opiates has been subtle, cunning and baffling. I am so depressed over this turn of events - this twist of fate - because I feel like I have thrown away eight years of sobriety.

I am still taking percoset, but at a reduced rate. Last week, however, I was running away with it. I was doing them in quantities to get high - for the purpose of getting high ... or blasted.
He still hadn't hit bottom though.

He still knew where to buy the street junk.

I got religion then and started to panic. I knew he had a brother living north of the city. I told Nick I was going to call his brother and that got his attention. He vehemently did not want me to make that call. We had heated words on the phone. He was shooting up while he was talking to me. I hung up on him.

Fingers shaking, I punched in the numbers on my phone to reject calls from him.

My parents were visiting and I had opera tickets for Orfeo that day. My parents loved opera and I was bent on exposing my kids to culture of every kind. I sat there in the Wortham Theatre Center in my pretty spring dress and though about Nick in his home, alone and in misery, and felt ineffably defeated.

But I had done some good. I had scared him, if not straight, in that direction. He had one of his friends call to tell me that Nick was making arrangements for going into a rehab program.

It also drove him to write me another beautiful letter.

I miss communicating with you. You know I am not well and in danger. I feel like you and everyone will abandon me because of what I am doing.

You, without question, are an important figure in my life. Who would ever have guessed that that could be possible considering the way in which we met. I cannot define our connection ... there is the gender stuff which confuses me ... but if I lay that stuff aside ... and I can't ... but I try ... and what is left is, dare I say it? OK, it's love.

And then there is attempting to define that. With you, like all other loves, it is unique. But it is your essence ... soul, if you will ... your you ... and who wants to ever put aside the gender stuff anyway? But I cannot respond that way with you right now and because of that I feel very intimidated by you.

So I am afraid of you...and you have known that about me for some time now I think.

All that to say ... I miss you.
And then a quickie to let me know he was on his way.
Tomorrow. It's 12:30 a.m., so technically it will be today. Today I will go to detox from this crap.

But I will have something in my system today, so tomorrow will be my new sobriety date.

That would be March 25, 1999.
I was so grateful.
I'm glad you are going to the hospital and rehab. It is right. Thank you for telling me.

You are tough - like me - and fragile - like me - and I hope you will be okay now (like me?).

March 25 is a good sobriety date.
And then, mercifully, it was over.
I am home.

I haven't a physical dependence any more.

You are beautiful. Please forgive me for harming you ... I never intended that.

I cannot express the gratitude I feel for having you in my life.

You were instrumental in my looking for help sooner rather than too late.
A terrible weight had lifted. Gratitude flooded me.
Hey Nick - I wasn't angry or traumatized - just scared for you and a little off-balance because both my parents and my kids were there with me (and having my mom around puts me into terminal stress mode anyway).

I am just so happy you are better - and thanks for saying I had anything to do with that.

And I'm also sure you haven't used more than your share of grace - you have a really fine heart and soul.
And then another shocker.
I don't know how to ask ... howzabout you and me doin' lunch sometime soon?

I mean, it doesn't have to be a big deal or anything, but I sure would like to buy you lunch and spend a little real-time with you sometime soon.

What do you say?
I'd been wanting him to ask me to spend time with him in real life since I'd met him.
I say sure. A girl's gotta eat.
We met for lunch at a little cafe near my office. It was May. I wore a white knit top, khaki slacks and a little cropped summer jacket with embroidered flowers.

I told him once again that the past didn't matter, that only the present and future matter.

I felt the old attraction to him. I was seeing someone else though, and he knew that. I'd have given it up in a heartbeat if he'd asked me to. But he didn't.

We hugged when we said goodbye. He sent me a note after.
Thanks for joining me for lunch today. I really enjoyed it.
And I said this.
Thanks for lunch. That was very sweet of you. I had a good time too.

Nick, despite what you've been through, you look better than you did a year ago - it is something from the inside that I see.
That lunch was the last time I saw him.

His girlfriend had come back while he was in treatment.

I didn't know it yet, but our story was coming to an end.

"Lost friends and loved ones much too young
So much promises and work left undone
When all that guards us is a single center line
And the brutal crossing over when it's time

Well I don't know where it all begins
And I don't know where it all will end
We're better off for all that we let in

We're in an evolution I have heard it said
Everyone's so busy now, but do we move ahead
Planets hurling, atoms splitting
And a sweater for your love you sit there knitting

Well I don't know where it all begins
And I don't know where it all will end
We're better off for all that we let in

You see those crosses on the side of the road
Or tied with ribbons in the median
They make me grateful I can go this mile
Lay me down at night and wake me up again

I pass the cemetery, walk my dog down there
I read the names in stone and I say a silent prayer
When I get home you're cooking supper on the stove
And the greatest gift of life is to know love

Well I don't know where it all begins
And I don't know where it all will end
We're better off for all that we let in"

(Emily Saliers)

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