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Reaching My Point of Panic

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People who don’t know me all that well think I’m pretty calm about most things. People who do know me well know that my anxiety can spike rather quickly, even though I may appear to be (somewhat) serene. It takes a lot for me to lose my inner and outer composure, but that’s exactly where I was several days ago.

You know, for many years of my life I, like many of you, knew nothing of e-mail and cell phones and would have strongly resisted the idea that anyone could find me and interrupt my life at any time they chose to do so. In fact, if there had been anyone from Sweden in my family, which there was not, I could have imagined an ancestral relationship to Greta Garbo, because I, like Garbo, simply “vanted” to be left alone.

While I love my friends and enjoy socializing, I don’t function real well with persistent interruption. This is especially true when I’m concentrating on something I like or need to do. I prize my time alone to think and plan and do all the little everyday things that make me happy. I do not have a need for constant company (I am an only child, after all).

Given all of the above, it’s ironic that what made me feel like I was in the midst of a calamity was that we moved. In that process, for a few days, we had no telephone (the old number was disconnected days before I wished that to happen), no properly working television, uncertain computer connection, and, because I was still learning about the plugs in our new home, more often than not, I would try to charge my cell phone on a “dead” plug, which meant, of course, a dead cell phone.

All of this has been, mostly, straightened out, but, let me tell you, I was anxious, with a pounding heart and nausea for days until I had the opportunity to let  people know how to get a hold of me. It was all so out of character!

How did I allow myself to feel so out of control over a situation that I knew would, eventually, be corrected? Well, one thing I do know about human nature (especially women [yes, our brains are wired differently]) is that we are all about connection. That’s why solitary confinement is such a successful punishment. — most of us cannot stand long-term isolation.

Of course I saw and spoke to many people during that time of severed (cable) connections; nonetheless, I worried that someone (I’m not sure who) would think I had disappeared off the face of the earth and would write me off as gone forever. Hey, I never claimed to be without my twitches and quirks!

I have only, over the course of my life, met one person who enjoyed the process of moving. He was a boss of mine many years ago, and, when I think about it now, I’ll bet that the larger part of the stress of moving was not laid on his shoulders. I thought he was crazy. I still do. I can remember this man’s face lighting up as he described the joy of all those boxes around him. Really!! I don’t know about his boxes, but mine start out being organized, with related items going into the same box and it’s all downhill from there . By the time we are beyond half way into the process, I just want to fill the cursed things. The whole process is disorienting and uncomfortable as far as I’m concerned. Rooms to Go may be a good idea; boxes to go simply stinks.

“Home” is a really significant place. The more that we can manage to make our dwelling feel like it’s ours, the more comfortable and safe we feel. I know that over the years, when I have chosen a home, my choice has rested on how that particular space spoke to me. When we lived in Boston, we were in a wonderful old building with two units per floor that went from the front of the building to the back. My condo had a big curve in the hallway wall and there was something about that curve that just felt like “me”. I can’t say why, but I was always happy living there.

I saw a documentary about Joan Rivers recently in which she showed the film crew her co-op in New York. The place was extremely formal and just screamed “don’t touch” to me. For her, however, that’s what a home should be. It’s always a good idea to add touches that say to you, “Yes, this place looks like I’m the one who lives here.”

As my sense of dislocation subsides, I find that everything seems a little bit easier. Life is good as long as I know where my own space is on the planet. We all have needs that must be satisfied for us to feel all right. If you don’t know what those needs are, try really hard to define them. Once you do, and make sure that they’re met, your enjoyment of and satisfaction with this life you have will grow exponentially.

“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find mysel

Maya Angelou

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