Saturday, May 11, 2013

My name is Jessica, and I am agoraphobic.

So, the title of this post is not 100% true, however... I am beginning to wonder if it is becoming true.  This October will be my 4 year anniversary of staying home.  When I was 5 months pregnant with Abbie, I was laid off from my job.  I started drawing unemployment, and while applying for jobs... learned that no one wants to hire someone who is 6 months pregnant!  I decided to use my time to prepare for the baby's arrival.  Before I was laid off, I fully expected to return to work after Abbie was born.  Now that I was home, I wasn't really sure what the plan was.  It wasn't until the first time Abbie and I met, that my decision was made!  I knew at that moment, that I was willing to make any sacrifice necessary for me to be able to stay home with her.  Being a one income family, with a newborn, and A LOT of debt, meant that I stayed home A LOT.  I had several girl friends local that also had small children, and we did play dates.  However, there was no trips to the zoo or children's museum that weren't planned and saved for!  I became attached to my home.  I took pride in it.  When we relocated to Richmond, I was torn.  I felt like my house was a new prison, but it was also my safe zone.  In an unfamiliar city, I was scared, lost, and preferred to stay home.  Not long after our move, we learned we would be expecting a new baby.  The pregnancy brought nausea, fatigue, and emotional stressors that were in addition to the stress of being in a new place.  More than ever, I didn't want to leave my house.  When I did leave it was usually for a 10am play date or group meeting, and I was home safe and sound by noon.  Abbie's nap time dictated most of my days anyways, so it all worked out for the best!  Brady arrived and the chaos of a newborn continued to tie me to my house.  Traveling to Greensboro to visit friends and family had all but ceased, and going out was very minimal.  

It wasn't until yesterday that I began reflecting all of this, and realizing that it has actually led to the development of a phobia.  Agoraphobia is a real thing, and I am not trying to make light of it or offend anyone by misusing the term.  My confession today is that I do not like to leave my house at night.  I do not like driving at night, I do not like being alone at night, I do not like to be away from my safe zone without the safety of daylight.  When I go somewhere at night, it is always with a group of people, and I never drive.  We drove home from a baby shower last weekend after dark, and I was terrified.  Afraid that I would run off the road on one of those windy back streets and no one would find myself & my children.  Last night my phobia exploded and reached it's peak.  Needing to get groceries BAD, I decided that our schedules would only allow me to do my shopping at 10pm when Derik arrived home.  I headed to WalMart, and parked in front of the grocery entrance.  I did my shopping and was in line by 1045 (yes, I power shop when I am shopping for groceries).  For some unknown reason WalMart thought it would be a funny joke to close all registers except for 1.  All 50 people shopping that evening were in line at one register.  After waiting for a LONG time to pay, I headed to my car.  WalMart had locked the grocery entrance doors and turned off all of the lights.  The parking lot was dark on that side of the store.  My panic kicked in, and I dug my keys out before leaving the well lit doorway I was standing in.  I headed to my parking place that felt like it was a mile away.  When I opened the door to load the groceries in, I realized the interior overhead light was out... great.  Now it is REALLY dark.  I chucked my groceries in, and I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.  All I could think was GET IN THE CAR, AND LOCK THE FREAKING DOORS.  A man walking from the BACK of the parking lot came into sight from the shadows.  He was walking directly toward me, and I stood frozen.  Afraid that he was coming to ensure my face to face with Jesus, I began a little prayer that Derik & the kids would know how much I loved them, and they wouldn't hold onto the injustice of my untimely murder for the rest of their lives.  The man walked past me and headed into WalMart, and I finally heard myself take a breath.  I then realized I wasn't alone in the parking lot.  Most of the people behind me in line had also parked in front of the grocery entrance, and were filing out of the store and into my dark hole.  I threw the cart into a return, jumped in the car, locked the doors, and headed back to my safe zone.  All I wanted was to be back at home.  Safely locked into my house with my alarm set, and resting in my cozy bed.  When I woke up this morning Derik asked me if I was feeling better, after my rough shopping experience  and I said yes.  Then my brain began to realize that what happened in that parking lot isn't completely normal.  Being aware of your surroundings is one thing, but the fear that had gripped me is not.  I realized that I want to be home all of the time.  I prefer not to leave.  I always offer to host events with friends, ask for play dates to be at my house, and will sometimes make excuses so I don't have to leave.  When I leave it is in the morning, and I am usually with a group.  The fear is paralyzing me, and I don't really know how to get past it.  I don't think I am writing this post to get advice, as much as I am just hoping this admission allows me to cope with it better.  I am truly afraid of the dark.  A dark room, a dark house, a dark yard... simple things, all terrify me.  As a 28 year old woman, it is humiliating to admit I am afraid of the dark, but I am.  I can only pray that I do not pass this fear onto Abbie & Brady.  I think a lot of my anxiety issues of spun off of this original fear, and it has definitely led to my mild agoraphobia 

If you have been affected by this fear, I apologize.  I fear that people think I don't want to come to their house, or go places with them.  That is not the case.  I do want to be social, and I love all of my friends... I am just afraid to leave my house.  I hope that you all can accept me for this, and be patient with me as I learn to cope with it.  Realizing that I have the issue is my first step, and now I have admitted it.  If someone else is dealing with something like this... I feel your pain.  My house is no longer just a happy place, it is my safe zone, my bunker, my panic room.

STEP 1... I am going to get the mail.  It is 1015, and it is pitch dark.  I will turn on the porch light, but I will still be afraid.  Maybe this is the start to getting over something that sounds so crazy.

 - Jessica