Hostess with the…leastest

I had a weird epiphany today while on the phone with my best friend. We were talking about when I was going to open my pool and she mentioned how I never invite anyone over to swim…or really ever. To be honest, I do not really like entertaining or hosting gatherings, but I never really thought about why. I said to her (really nonchalantly) that when living with my father and then my exhusband and exboyfriend, I usually felt uncomfortable having people over. She was quiet for a while and then said, “that totally makes sense now, I never thought about it” and I was like, “oh my god, I never made the connection either!”

I infrequently had friends over to my house when I was a teenager. It was pretty safe to assume my father would be drunk and would either embarrass me or would act horribly. I grew up under the unwritten law of “don’t let people know what is going on inside our house”, which is obeyed diligently by most children of alcoholics. Having an “outsider” at my house was not a comfortable feeling.

Once I got married and bought a house with my exhusband, we did entertain a bit at first. However, as our relationship deteriorated, I became very nervous about having people over. Keeping up the facade of a happy marriage was exhausting. He would sometimes fly off the handle at the slightest comment I made or would ignore my family members. One time we went to the food store to buy appetizers for a party. He loaded up the cart with a literal armful of different cheeses. I made an innocuous comment about whether we needed so many cheese options. He left the cart, and me, at the store and canceled the party. Needless to say, I was never very eager to have company over.

Most recently, my exboyfriend lived with me. We dated for nine years and he lived with me in my house for the last five years. He was not outright rude to anyone, but he was often detached when my family would come over- constantly looking at his phone or disappearing for an hour. Over the years, his depression and alcoholism had a very negative impact on our social life. I never could predict when he was going to stay in bed for an entire weekend or when he would drink to excess or when he would be normal and friendly. I did not realize at the time that I was hiding his issues from people, “covering” for him with excuses about him being tired from work, etc. I never wanted to plan anything at the house because I did not know which version of him would be attending.

Now that I have lived alone for the past year, I relish my quiet, calm house. Often when I am at a party with a lot of people and chaos, I get overwhelmed. When I am at a friend’s house who has children, I feel relieved to come back home to just my two cats. I don’t think that I was comfortable in many of my past living situations, so I am very protective and territorial of my “safe space”.

I am quite social and I do love spending time with my friends, but I prefer to do it at their homes or a restaurant. I have so much appreciation for consistency and predictability and security and tranquility when it comes to my home. I did not have those things for the majority of my life and they have become things I will not ever jeopardize again…not for all the cheese in the world!

Need vs. Want

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I have always had a hard time putting my own needs first and I am also too much of a people pleaser.  When my exboyfriend left a little over a week ago to stay with his parents, I was so devastated to say goodbye, but I have to admit that I felt a little relief.  Relief that the ordeal in the hospital was over and relief that I no longer had to live with an alcoholic.  Once he was gone, I thought that I would be able to start dealing with everything that happened- the endless hours in the hospital, fearing he would die, learning about another woman, adjusting to living alone again.  Yet, once he was gone, I continued talking and texting with him.  Part of it was that I missed him.  Even though things were not good with us for a while and his alcoholism had taken over, I still truly loved him and we were together for almost nine years.  But the other part of it was that I felt a sense of responsibility for him and I was invested in his health and his recovery process.  Looking back on it, I probably should have cut off or limited our communication when he left.  I realize now that all I was doing was continuing to dwell in the trauma of what happened.  As long as I focused on him, I did not have to address my own feelings of sadness and anger and loneliness. I assumed as long as he was 750 miles away, it was “safe” to continue talking to him.

He just told me a couple of days ago that he is already coming back this week and rented an apartment about two miles from my house.  I am anxious about this for so many different reasons.  Obviously, I feel like he made this decision with me in mind.  I have not given him any false hope that we will be together again.  In fact, I have expressed my concerns that he hasn’t done anything related to recovery since he left the hospital and it is too soon for him to come back and to live alone.  I am nervous and paranoid that I am going to run into him every time I leave my house.  That is not a comfortable feeling for someone who suffers from anxiety.

I thought about it overnight and called him back and told him that we need to stop communicating.  He needs to focus on himself and I need to start focusing on myself and dealing with everything that happened.  The key word is “need”.  I keep trying to make him understand that this is what I truly NEED.  Of course I WANT to support him and help him and be there for him and even spend time with him…but I know if that happens, I will get sucked back into his problems and continue to enable him.  He basically told me that he understands what I am telling him, but that he doesn’t know if he can not speak to me or have me be a part of his life.  I realized I have to be much more firm and told him that if he does not give me the space I NEED, that I will end up resenting him.  The more he tries to force and push himself into my life, the more I feel scared and anxious. He just does not seem to be accepting the fact that our relationship is over.  It is not what I wanted…I never wanted ANY of this.  But I know, without a doubt, that I have to put myself first and that I am not ready to forgive him for the way he hurt me and affected our relationship.  I cannot revolve my life around his recovery journey.  Our relationship has been about him for so long.  I just need space and time to figure things out for myself and work through everything that happened.  I just wish I didn’t have to do that with him living down the street.

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My codependency

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Throughout the entire month my boyfriend was in ICU, I focused pretty much all of my energy, time and attention on him and his recovery.  Now that he is at his parent’s house, I am realizing that it was easier for me to do that than to look at myself in the mirror and reflect on my own behavior.  I feel like such a cliche…the daughter of an alcoholic who ends up dating an alcoholic.  As a child, I felt like I had no control over my father and his drinking problem, yet there was always that part of me that felt like if I was “good” or did not give him a reason, he would stop.  I knew deep down it was not my fault, but I consistently found myself playing the role of peacekeeper in my family and I was always the only one to try to placate him, hoping it would calm him down or avoid an altercation.  I did not feel during my relationship with my boyfriend that I was enabling him, but I have started to realize that I was definitely codependent.  Below I listed the top ten signs of codependency and they literally describe me to a T.  My boyfriend (I guess I should be writing ex-boyfriend, really) and I have been having a lot of heart-to-heart, honest conversations and he recently said something that really made me think.  He said that in some ways drinking was easy for him because he knew that I was responsible and would take care of everything.  It is really so true.  He knew that he could drink and pass out and I would feed the dog and let her out.  I catered to him so much, did so many things for him that my sister would joke that I was his secretary.  I know that was fulfilling some kind of void in my life, some desire to please other people, to feel needed and in control.  I constantly had expectations and was mostly always disappointed.  I would create scenarios in my head of us both getting off work and going to the mall and then out to dinner and then coming home and watching a movie.  And more often than not, he would be drunk or sleeping.  I would be upset and make excuses for him…he was stressed at work, his depression was kicking in, the dog was sick.

I knew deep down that he loved me- truly loved me.  I think he still does.  However, I felt unloved and unwanted and lonely a lot.  I was deprived of affection and of intimacy for so long.  I think that is why finding out he was unfaithful by texting another woman was so hurtful.  The attention and interest that I so desperately wanted from him for years he so easily bestowed on someone else.

It is really difficult to objectively look at our relationship since it just ended and the heartache is still so fresh.  He has a lot of work to do in order to get healthy and sober and I accept the fact that I cannot be responsible for him anymore.  It is time to focus on myself so I can become a stronger person.  I also know that I cannot hide behind him and his problems anymore as a way of avoiding my own.

TEN SIGNS OF CODEPENDENCY

From: https://www.recoveryconnection.com/top-ten-indicators-suffer-codependency/

  1. Feeling responsible for solving others’ problems. The codependent feels the need to solve another’s problems. They feel that the person in need cannot manage to make the right decisions or take the right actions to solve his or her own problem.
  2. Offering advice to others whether it is asked for or not. The codependent jumps at the opportunity to provide “much-needed” advice. 
  3. Expecting others to do what the codependent says.  Codependents often do not understand boundaries.
  4. The codependent feels used and underappreciated. The codependent will expend enormous amounts of energy to take charge of another’s life. This is all under the guise of sincerely wanting to help. When the help or advice is ignored or rejected, the codependent feels angry, abused, and unappreciated.
  5. Trying to please people so others will like or love the codependent. Codependents will go out of their way to please another person. They hope to receive love, approval or be accepted and liked. If the approval is not given, the codependent will feel victimized.
  6. Taking everything personally. Because there are little to no boundaries, any remark, comment or action is a reflection back upon the codependent. This makes the need to feel in control paramount.
  7. Feeling like a victim. Everything that happens either to the codependent or the loved one is a reflection on the codependent. Such people usually feel victimized and powerless and do not understand their role in creating their own reality.
  8. Using manipulation, shame, or guilt to control others’ behavior. Codependents will respond in a fashion that will force compliance by others. These tactics may be unconscious and it is important that the codependent feel in control.
  9. Lying to themselves and making excuses for others’ bad behavior. Because codependents do not deal directly with their feelings, they develop techniques to lie to themselves about others’ behaviors. Because they feel responsible for others’ behaviors, they will rationalize and blame others for their loved one’s poor behavior, seeking to maintain control.
  10. Fearing rejection and being unlovable. The codependent fears that if he or she is not successful at everything, or indeed expresses his/her feelings or needs, they will be rejected. In a codependent’s way of thinking, he or she will be unlovable. 

Loving and letting go

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Throughout this past month, I kept updating my opinion on what was the “hardest part”.  First it was when you were in the coma, then it was when I found those text messages, then it was all the medical complications, then it was the week you woke up and struggled with sedation, then it was the day I had to tell you I knew the truth and our relationship was over, then it was the days afterward when I did not hear from you or see you.  But now that it is “over”, I know without a doubt the past 24 hours were the hardest part.

I knew when you were discharged from the hospital you would be coming to the house, both to see the dog and to get your belongings I packed for you.  I was so anxious…I had no idea what was going to happen.  You could have literally picked everything up and left in ten minutes.  The minute you walked in the door, all my anxiety melted away.  You looked so feeble and weak, moving so slowly.  You hugged me and my face pressed against your neck, just like it did the other day, except this time it was your skin and not your central line I felt.  All I wanted was to be with you and take care of you.  I know those feelings were supposed to be “wrong”, but throughout this whole nightmare, I have followed my heart with no regrets.  I knew you needed me more than I needed to be angry with you.  I can say it is the first time in my life that I know I had to be and was completely selfless.  Nothing mattered more than you surviving and getting better.

You staying overnight just felt natural.  I thought it would be awkward, but it wasn’t.  Even though it was maybe not the smartest move in the world for us, it just felt right.  I think we held each other more in 24 hours than we did in the entire previous year.  We have both always wanted our space in bed when sleeping, but I don’t think there was a time the entire night that we didn’t touch each other.  It was not sexual at all, it was just so comforting.  I woke up before you and just stared at your face.  I wanted to memorize every single thing, to burn the image into my brain.  I have always loved your nose and the shape of your lips.  My favorite part of your face is under you eyes by the bridge of your nose.

My heart sank when your parents arrived an hour early- I felt robbed of 60 more minutes of being with you, of us being together.  That last hour was so rushed.  I made sure to take some time to take the dog into the other room alone so I could say goodbye to her.  Every time I walk into the house now, it feels so weird to not have her there by the door.  I kept thinking today I needed to run home to let her out and then would remember with a sinking heart that she was no longer there.  I don’t know how I managed to say goodbye to you without collapsing.  I had to lie on the bed after I came back inside the house.  Your car was still in front of the house.  My tears were silent so I could hear the exact moment you drove away.  It reminded me of when we were dating long distance and you would leave at the end of the weekend and I would feel my heart sink knowing I would not see you for a full week.  This was that times one million.

I am aware of the fact that I am mourning our relationship and focusing only on the things I will miss.  I will miss you so much.  I start to feel normal, forget for one split second, and then it is like a wave washes over me and I remember you are gone.  Really, really gone.  I realize right now that I am only thinking about the good parts of our relationship and the fact that you are a truly a good person with a very bad problem. I know that I am going to have to go through all the different emotions at some point.  I deserve to feel the anger about your betrayal.  There’s a part of me that is relieved that my life will not be affected every day by your drinking.  I wish I had a crystal ball to see into the future- to see if you are going to be sober, to find out if you will be a part of my life again.  However, I know with complete certainty that I love you, and yet I also know with equal confidence that I had to let you go.  For you and for me.

I haven’t even begun to process the trauma, the hurt, the heartbreak, the loss from this past month.  I tried to stay busy all day so I didn’t think about how every minute, you were another mile farther away.  We talked on the phone and at the end of the conversation you said “I love you” and I said “I love you, too”.  It did not feel like simply habit, although we always said that when we hung up the phone.  I know the love we have for each other is genuine and I am not going to deny my feelings for you because of the negative things that have happened.  I just know that love is not enough and some things are just not meant to be.  I am letting you go because this is a journey you have to take yourself and I need to carve a new path for myself, too.  I spend too much time wishing that none of this ever happened and torturing myself about what I could have done differently.  But deep down, I knew that my love would never be enough and that you have to learn to love yourself first.  And I have to start putting myself first and that begins with letting you go.

keep f**king going…

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I am here, my love.  I am sitting next to you as you lie motionless in your hospital bed.  Tomorrow will officially be two weeks that you have been in a medically induced coma on a breathing tube.  I keep thinking to myself, “but we were supposed to go to the mall and get dinner.”  You always hear about people’s lives changing overnight, you just never expect it to happen to you.  I am listening to the steady breathing coming from your lungs, but I know it is a machine doing the work for you.  I am wearing a plastic gown that has become a part of my daily wardrobe.  The sounds of the ICU has become just background noise.  The first few days I would jump every time an alarm went off.  Now, I can identify which IV drip is running low and I know medical terms that are 15 letters long (and can pronounce them).  I have a newfound respect for nurses, who have treated your body with such respect and have treated my broken heart with such kindness.

An hour ago, you opened your eyes, staring at nothing.  I tried to make eye contact, but you are so sedated, I doubt you are seeing anything.  I put on a latex glove and held your hand.  I asked you to squeeze it and you did.  But like a baby who smiles when they have gas, I wonder if it was just a reflex or if you could really feel me touching you.  I hate not being able to touch your skin without plastic between us.

I miss you so much, but you are right here.  I go through so many emotions every day, I feel like a crazy person sometimes.  When I am home, I feel guilty that I am not with you.  When I leave the hospital, I feel guilty to feel relief.  Why do I feel so much guilt? I didn’t do anything wrong.  I have always tried not to play the victim card when it came to my dad’s alcoholism, but I was a victim of it, just like I was a victim of yours.  I have to take responsibility, though, because I didn’t have a choice with my father.  I did have a choice when it came to you.  But, honestly, given another chance, I would still choose you.  You were worth the risk.  I saw all the good in you…so much good.  People always say they have no regrets and wouldn’t change things in their lives because they learned from mistakes.  I have regrets- I regret marrying my exhusband…I would have preferred to miss those hard lessons.  I will never regret you, though, my love.

I tried to pour my heart out to your mother.  I’m sure you can guess how that went.  One thing I tried to explain to her is that when all of this is over, she will still have you as her son.  When this is all over, I lose you.  I will have to start picking up the pieces and find a new life for myself.  I know it is the right thing to do, though.  We could not have continued living the way we were.  Well, I couldn’t.  I just would not be able to see you do this to yourself again.  Please don’t let this be in vain.  I wish I believed in god so I could pray for you to survive, to get better, to get sober, to be happy.  Other people who are religious are praying for you- that makes me grateful.  I have asked my Mama for help.  I talk to her and ask her to watch over you and to protect you.  She was the toughest woman I know, but she had the biggest heart.  She would say to you, “oh phooey- you wake up and get off those machines!”.

I wonder how long it will be before I stop loving you?  Maybe never.  Maybe it will just be a part of who I am.  Right now it is hard to be angry with you for your lies and your betrayal because you look so weak, so helpless.  But it’s not fair- I have a right to be angry with you.  It has to wait.  I feel like all I have been doing for the past two weeks is waiting (and you know I am not the most patient person).  But I need to see this through- for you and for myself.  Jess bought me a bangle bracelet as a gift that is just silver on the outside but on the inside it says, “keep fucking going…” And that is what I am going to do.

Meh.

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We had parent conferences at my high school last night.  Of the parents who came, there was a common reason as to why all of their children are failing my class: apathy.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of students who just don’t care about their grades.  Ten or fifteen years ago, if a student did not complete an assignment, there would be begging, pleading, tears, etc. for them to make it up.  Now, even in my honors classes, if a student gets a zero, they have little to no reaction.  They just accept it.  They do not seem to care.  Luckily, most of my students really do want to do well, but it is a recurring problem I have experienced and it is increasing each year.

I am experiencing a form of this in my own life right now when it comes to my relationship.  My therapist mentioned it a few weeks ago as an observation.  She said that I am in a “state of apathy” and I have thought about it a lot since then.  And I agree.  When I was getting divorced, I cried and cried and cried.  I cried until I literally could not cry anymore.  I was pure emotion and very little logic.  I lived in fear, uncertainty, sadness.

My boyfriend has been struggling with work, his alcoholism, his depression and it has been affecting our relationship and me more than I have really been willing to admit.  It is really hard to watch the person you love just self-destruct.  I feel helpless and oftentimes I feel like his caretaker, not his girlfriend.  I feel like because I don’t know what to do (even though deep down I know what I need to do), I have just gotten to a place where I feel like I don’t care.  He sleeps all day…whatever.  He drinks…I just leave the room and watch tv by myself.  I don’t cry, I don’t even really get mad anymore.  I just feel…nothing a lot of the time.  I don’t know if it is a self-defense mechanism to help me cope with it or if my feelings have truly changed.  Naively, like most other people, I keep  thinking (hoping, waiting) that things will get better.  But it has literally been years and I think I have sort of given up.

I don’t know what’s worse, being upset all the time or just putting a wall around my heart to not feel anything?

Summertime Blues

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Summer brings sunshine, pool days, lazy mornings…and anxiety.  I am grateful to have the downtime after a busy school year, but free time often triggers anxiety for me.  I am the type of person who thrives with structure and routine.  It is sometimes hard to pinpoint what exactly is making me anxious and why it gets worse at times.  Traveling causes the most anxiety for me and there are ample opportunities to go places over the summer.  Most of my family was off for the month of July, too, and so I was invited to participate in many activities.  I always feel the desire to go, but sometimes the anxiety is preventative.  I try not to let it “win”, but sometimes it does and it can put a damper on the summer and how I feel about myself.

This week, my family had plans to attend a festival about an hour away.  I decided not to go, but second guessed myself the whole time.  I wanted to go, but was uncomfortable about the drive and how I would feel.  About an hour after they left, I decided to go…to not let anxiety prevent me from living my life.  I bought a ticket, got dressed and jumped in my car before I could change my mind.  To be honest, I think I knew I might do this because driving myself places is one of the ways I can push myself- I do better on my own, when I am in complete control.  I decided not to tell my family I was coming, rather surprise them (I knew this would make my mom so happy because she has been worried about me).  I got on the highway and when I was about 20 minutes into the hour long drive, it began to torrentially rain and thunderstorm.  The venue I was going to was outdoors and so I was uncertain what to do.  I didn’t want to “give up” and go home, but I didn’t want to push myself to make the drive and then have to turn around and go home anyway.

After some hesitation, I decided to go home.  I was just too uncomfortable driving in bad weather when my anxiety was already bad.  The whole way back home, I beat myself up…I should have continued driving, I should have tried harder, I should have waited for the storm to pass.  When I pulled back in my driveway, I cried.  I felt like a failure.

It took some tears and some phone calls with friends and some time to reflect, but I was able to shift the experience in my mind and focus more on the attempt than the outcome.  I did not make it to the festival, but I genuinely tried to go.  And during the drive, I really felt okay and not terribly anxious.  Back at home, I was disappointed, but I knew I should also be proud of myself for trying.  I can’t really say that I would put this experience in the “win” column, but I know that it was better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all.

Check-in time

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I stayed in a hotel by myself last night.  I felt like such a big girl 😉  This doesn’t feel like a monumental accomplishment, however my anxiety has been pretty bad lately.  In fact, staying at the hotel was a way to ease my travel anxiety.  I attended a two day training about an hour and a half away from my house and I knew there would be traffic on the drive home. I decided to stay overnight in the area to help alleviate the concern of getting stuck in traffic.  I actually was not nervous about staying alone overnight, but I wanted to take a drive to a neighboring, popular town I have never visited.  By the end of the first day of training, which included leaving my house at 6 am, navigating to the location I was unfamiliar with, sitting through the lecture-style format training which was SO boring, finding the hotel and checking in, I was emotionally exhausted.  I admit I took Xanax throughout the day, which I normally try to avoid, but it did help a little.  I was disappointed but decided to nix the drive to the other town and went to a restaurant as close to the hotel as possible.  It is funny- I do not really have as much anxiety about doing things alone. My friend who also suffers from anxiety said she would never be able to stay alone in a hotel overnight and my boyfriend feels really uncomfortable eating in a restaurant by himself.  Those things don’t bother me that much.  After I ate, it was still pretty early and it was post-rush hour traffic and I spontaneously decided to take the drive to the town I wanted to visit and I did! I felt those tingles of anxiety as I drove, but I really tried to fight through it and I did!

It is so easy to look back on this little two day excursion and focus on the negatives and failures.  I felt anxious pretty much the whole time I was in the car.  As soon as I arrived at the training, I wanted to turn around and immediately go home.  I felt disappointed with myself for deciding not to visit the other town. When I did go to the other town, it was raining a bit and so I never parked and explored.  I took more Xanax than I normally would.  “I want to go home” flitted through my brain about 200 times throughout the first day of training.  It is hard not to focus so much on the weaknesses I have and the things I feel like I can’t do.

But I am going to try to focus on the things I did do- the successes.  They may seem minor to other people.  I am sure most people would not congratulate themselves for driving an extra 20 minutes out of their way or staying at a hotel by themselves.  I am not patting myself on the back, but I do feel like I am often way too hard on myself and I need to be a better friend to myself instead of falling into the habit of being my own worst enemy.  I didn’t fly across the country, but I did break out of my comfort zone, so I am going to chalk that up as a win.

Small victories

With my anxiety in high gear, it is easy to let my agoraphobia get out of control, too. Almost all of my anxiety is related to travel and lately my comfort area has been shrinking. I started getting really down on myself and then had to remember that I’ve been here through this before and with determination (and therapy and medication and hypnosis and support and TRYING) things did get better.  My boyfriend’s parents are staying with us while they are in town and I am happy to spend time with them because I enjoy their company. However, them being here means doing more things and going more places. One of those things was a party for my boyfriend’s grandfather’s 90th birthday, which was being held about an hour from my house. I immediately didn’t want to go because I felt like it was too far to drive. I even went as far as to get myself an “out”. But this morning I decided that by using that out, I was allowing myself to go down a slippery slope. If I don’t go to one thing, it becomes easier to not go to the next and so on and so on and my comfort area continues to get smaller. So, even though it probably wasn’t a big deal to anyone else, it felt like a teeny tiny victory to me. Any day I work through it and do something, that’s a day that anxiety didn’t win. And I really, really needed a win.

We are not cleared for take-off…

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Many people have a fear of flying…then there’s me.  I actually feel anxious when I see an airplane on television.  I have to close my eyes in order not to watch the flight attendant closing the plane door on the screen.  Strangely, I flew often as a child.  I have flown alone and I have flown internationally.  My fear did not start until I was in my 20s and I had a panic attack on the flight home from my honeymoon (I am now divorced and the irony is really not lost on anyone).  In the years that followed, I flew as seldom as possible and my anxiety grew to include any type of travel.  In recent years, with the help of time and therapy and a supportive boyfriend, I have worked hard on overcoming my fears.  I also was medically hypnotized two summers ago to help conquer my fear of flying, which actually did help a lot.

Regardless of how far I have come, the overwhelming panic still affects me every time I have to fly.  It settles in a few days or a week before and keeps me up at night.  I reason with myself in the dark, telling myself that I have successfully flown before and I know what to expect, even as the electricity of an anxiety attack courses through my body.  I shiver and sweat and try to work through it.  For me, the anticipation of flying is the worst part…that and not being able to control my environment.  I often said that I preferred driving because “I can stop and get out of the car if something happens, but I can’t get out of a plane”, to which my therapist asked, “and why would you have to get out of a plane?” (to which I’ve never had a good answer!)

So this time I felt prepared.  I had the tools from therapy and hypnotherapy and several successful flights to aid me.  I knew the anticipatory anxiety would be there and how to deal with it.  And I had Xanax, something I rarely take in my every day life, but that I use generously on travel days.  The flight was only an hour and a half and the plane was on time.  My boyfriend and I breezed through security and got settled on the plane, as I waited for the Xanax to help me fall asleep (I look ridiculous when I fly, wearing an eye mask and a hoodie pulled over my head).  The plane pushed back from the gate and took its place to taxi out to the runway.  Then we waited and waited…and waited.  Finally the pilot came on and said that all planes were grounded because of a power outage in Washington D.C. I felt myself get hot and the panic start to rise uncontrollably.  I turned to my boyfriend and told him I was going to freak out (poor guy!).  In my head, I could picture myself standing up and running towards the plane door, yelling for them to let me off the plane.  I took a couple more Xanax and then closed my eyes and focused on slowly breathing in and out, in and out, in and out…for three hours.  This was literally my WORST nightmare- being trapped on the plane with no way off and zero control.  It was horrible and terrible and traumatic and yet, I survived.  After three hours of sitting on the plane, we finally took off, so in total I was on the plane for almost five hours.  Even writing this now, two weeks later, I still remember how awful I felt and how scared I was.  If I think about it too much, I actually start to feel anxious about it, even while sitting in my own family room.  But just a short week later, after enjoying a wonderful vacation, I got back on the plane to fly home (thankfully with no issues!).  I am actually really grateful that it happened on the way to our vacation location and that the flight home was easy, because I don’t want to use that experience as an excuse to not fly next time.