Last week I attempted to go for a walk to clear my head. This is nothing new. I had very few emotional outlets as a kid. No neighbors for miles, no siblings, few friends, even fewer that I was allowed to see outside of school, no close family members. I could write, so I always kept a notebook. And I could walk, so I did. I've been a walker ever since, with the exception of 2012 when I tried being a runner instead (There's no correlation between speed of my steps and speed of anxiety reduction; therefore, running is useless. Experiment concluded.). Walking is great, except when someone follows me. Which is exactly what happened last week.
A man followed me all the way from my home in West LA/Santa Monica to my office in Beverly Hills a few years ago. He boarded the bus with me, followed me around as I wove in between people and switched seats trying to lose him, and walked down Robertson Blvd behind me for 10 minutes, finally turning back once I stepped inside my building. That man was on foot. The man from last week was in a car.
Needless to say, my head was not cleared and I speed-walked (Running is useless!) back to my apartment and crawled into bed, feeling like I once again had no outlets.
I rarely feel like writing is cleansing anymore. Blogging publicly is wonderful because someone else always relates. Blogging publicly is awful because someone else always misses the point. Do you remember that shit list post where I listed men who did lousy things? There were at least 3 people who contacted me to tell me how guilty they felt about that, to the point where I felt like I had to comfort *them* instead of focusing on my own healing. What the fuck...?
2015 and 2016 have been full of enormous changes. I left a company I spent over 4 years with. I got engaged, moved in with someone for the first time, and got married. Moved across the country. Spent 3 weeks in Europe. Pepijn and I both quit our jobs at the beginning of August to work for ourselves. All of these things have happened within the past 12 months. Each time change comes along, we have to dedicate time to learning how to adjust and accept it. Or at least that's what we should do. I happen to love change, so I stupidly dove into all of these things without even thinking of how they'd affect me because I assumed I'd just sail through them on the back of a unicorn, wearing a Xena: Warrior Princess outfit and trailing a banner that says "I can do anything!"
Change feels different as I get older. It also feels different with another human legally and emotionally attached to me. Engagement, marriage, and living together are HUGE alterations for an only child like me to make, because they require me to take a lifetime of living solely for myself and give half of it away. Only children don't share well, you guys. Especially not when the thing that we're sharing is personal space. I'm proud of myself for working through it, and I'm proud of my husband for being so patient. I'm learning how to set aside time for myself and truly rely on it, because I no longer have the luxury of all my time being my own. That is why being followed as I try to spend some time with myself is a big fucking deal.
(Other than the whole street harassment thing, you know.)
I had a really bad panic attack a few days before I quit my job and am fairly certain that I hyperventilated in my sleep. I was forced to watch fatal car crashes in a dream that persisted no matter how many times I woke up. In the morning, I was unbelievably nauseous and completely stiff. Anxiety has historically shown up in my stomach first; even as a kid I got anxious stomach aches, sometimes lasting for months if I was really nervous about something (Case in point: the entire summer before starting Junior High. I went to the doctor and they found nothing wrong. I threw up the day before 7th grade, missed the first day of classes, and was totally fine after that.). When I start feeling like I'll be sick, the anxiety worsens. I missed a day of work because my body was too exhausted to move.
Pepijn made me an appointment with a massage therapist for the next day, and it wasn't until I was on the table that I realized how badly I needed something to be solely mine. The nice thing about professional massages to combat anxiety is that there's no obligation on my behalf. I can shut down completely while someone else takes my nervous wreck of a body and makes it better. It's their job to focus on relaxing me, which means that for one hour, that incredibly complex responsibility is no longer mine. I decided I'll go back twice a month. It still requires me giving up some personal time and space, but it couldn't be more different than the man who followed me in his car.