I went out today. No where special, but needed to get food and other supplies. I mentioned before the hardest part for me is just walking out the door, so today is an achievement for me. Driving to the store is another achievement. This could sound as if I am making progress or this could sound pitiful. A grown woman who walks out her front door and drives is something that is done all the time. But for me, I am not looking at is a big step, really not even an achievement, but I will count it as one. I know I have only walked out the door, drove and shopped. I have a long way to go still.
It is not that I have not shopped recently. It is that I have restricted how much I shop. I plan each evening to go out the next day. Yet when the next day rolls around, when I awaken, sometimes I am looking forward to going out, other times I think I will push myself. Most days, after showering, watching a little news on TV, I start thinking that maybe I do not need to go out. I get up to put makeup on. Sometimes, I change my mind several times and either end up with makeup on or end up not putting any on. As each minute passes I think of reasons why I do not need to go out. I think of how anything planned for today can wait until tomorrow. The thought of walking out the door becomes more daunting with each minute. Most of the time I end up not going out. It is later at night that I start to regret the decision. Now most stores, if not all are closed. So I cannot go out even if I wanted to. Have I changed my mind about going out because I know I cannot go anywhere? Or is it that I am starting to feel guilty for not having gone out earlier? I do not have an answer or even an idea of which it might be. What I do know is if I put makeup on, I must glance in the mirror to wash my face. That is when I feel guilt for not going out. This is leading me to start sleeping in make up so as not to have to glance in the mirror. The makeup can come off tomorrow just as I can go out tomorrow, I think to myself. This attitude has to change. If I have an appointment to go somewhere, though I still have hesitation, I go. I do not put it off. My need to go out is important. If I stay in the house I will end up agoraphobic. Walking out onto the porch or down the driveway does not count. They are still safe places.
So I have gone out. While in the car, I have to take an eight lane highway for a few miles to the next exit. I actually can take side roads, but the highway is quicker, yet provides no easy escape should I start to panic. If I am to return to a normal life, I must take the highway, not side roads. I must learn I cannot escape life. I do not want to escape life, I want to start living it again. As I am on the entrance ramp, I floor the car, going very fast, it is required to merge with the traffic. But today that sudden surge of power feels satisfying. I want it to continue, that is until I get on the highway, then I wait anxiously for my exit. I enter the first store, mirrors everywhere. I cannot escape the mirrors. I go directly for what I came for and leave. I drive to the next store, once again, mirrors everywhere. I wonder to myself why do the stores have so many mirrors. Then it dawns on me that they are able to see a shoplifter in the mirrors. So while I may not like the mirrors, the store needs them to avoid theft.
In the grocery store I realize I forgot a shopping list. I always shop with a list. The list is in the order of the store, if something is at the top of my list but at the end of the store I will forget it. I need my list to help me concentrate, not to panic. I also need it as the minute I enter a store I forget what I went in for. I guess this is part of the controlling side of myself. When I shop without a list, it always seems to take so much longer and when I arrive home I always realize I forgot something. It is important I get all I need as I do not know when I will shop again. So, I am in the store with no idea what I need. I start to look but many shelves are bare as the new sales start on Wednesday here. I see where things were that I might have wanted. I think about going to another grocery store when done at this one. I quickly change my mind.
I go to the self checkout as I realize I have only put 3 items in my cart. I scan them, pay for them. Walk to my car. I sit for a minute contemplating going to another store as I know I have not purchased whatever it is I need. I decide, it can wait until tomorrow. I drive home, put the three items away. I sit down to watch TV and realize that I do not need to go out tomorrow. It will wait till the next day. What started out as a step in the right direction, has turned into just another step to nowhere. Though I achieved little I will still count this as an achievement. Today, even if I did not get what I was going for, I did leave the house and go to the store. Though it feels like a step to nowhere and I know it is not a step in the right direction, it is at the very least a step. That is how we learn to walk, one step after another. If I do not go out tomorrow I will try not to be so hard on myself. If I do, it will be another step. With each step I am making a start. One day it will be the step to the present, being normal, whole again. At least that is what I want the mirror to reflect after I am able to take all these steps. But for now, I will have to settle for one unproductive step.