Friday, September 14, 2012

the things that terrify

I keep doing these things that terrify me. Maybe I have PTSD of the heart. Or maybe it's that, despite the fear, I keep trying. But it means I constantly fight to untangle the knots inside.

Have you ever had a true panic attack? I don't mean feeling scared, I mean an honest-to-goodness experience where fear soaks your entire body and you feel you must fight for your life. I have once. I plunged, unprepared, into the ocean with a scuba tank on my back.

Know what happens when you dive into the water with giant steel weight attached to your body? You sink. Immediately.

There is no thinking following the sensation of being dragged under. You just fight. You fight not to die, because that's what it feels like.

I clawed mightily towards the surface and when I reached it, I grabbed onto a float, ripped the regulator out of my mouth and gasped for air, then climbed weakly onto the boat and that was it. It wasn't until later that I even realized what happened -- my BCD hadn't been inflated -- but the next time I climbed into the water to snorkel a few days later I was uneasy and had to remind myself, "You just FEEL uncomfortable, nothing is actually wrong."

I found myself saying the same thing last night on my date, the 3rd date with The Cyclist (the guy who is thinner than me that I mentioned earlier).

The date was great, rapport awesome. He makes me giggle.

He leaned forward to kiss me last time I'd seen him and paused. "Wait, what's your last name?"

I said, "You were going to kiss me and you don't even know my last name?" I laughed. "I guess you didn't google my number yet."

I knotted up inside, just like I almost always do. But nothing was actually wrong. I'm just terrified of being hurt. Last thing I wanted was to reveal this though -- that's CRAZY GURRL!! territory and I hate crazy. So I didn't say anything. And then something in me realized he was scared too. Not too scared to try though. And so we stood facing eachother in the dark and tentatively reached out.

I tried to tell him things. "Asplenia," he said, cutting me off. "that's your business."

Later, when sleep finally overtook me, I dreamt I was standing with the Dark-Haired Boy. He hugged me tight, lifted my face and asked of me one thing: "Be kind."

I don't know how to be kind when there can be no certainty. But nothing is certain. We are wandering souls, connecting to discover and explore. This is a temporary place, this space between loneliness and love. By its definition, something temporary implies it is discarded when no longer needed. But that doesn't have to mean it lost value, right? As long as we all treat each other with care?

This is the thing I struggle with most, that knots me inside.


  1. the last panic attack that overtook me also happened when I was learning to scuba.
    the thing the instructor told me to help me over it is the same thing that's gotten me through every other one - Don't forget to breathe.

    Happy that you are meeting guys you like, that are worth your attention and are hopefully worthy of yours.

    As long as you remember to breathe, you can keep your head and sort out what you want.

    Rock on, Asplenia!

    1. Aww, thx EG! Have you learned to enjoy scuba diving since? You've conquered this? I still have some discomfort in water. It doesn't keep me from going in it, but it takes a little patience.

    2. Yes. and I love it.
      I get really tense when I first submerge, but then I remember to breathe and it's all better.

      And completely worth it!

    3. I just realized I asked THIS of the guy who hurled himself off a bridge attached to a rubber band. Pssht. You definitely have the mind over matter thing down!

  2. To be honest, as I was reading your account of your panic attack/anxiety, and I myself realized that my heartrate stepped up about 20 beats per minute more than just before I started...

    Adrenaline, the fight or flight response that follows, it has its place in our evolutionary history to preserve us. Our bodies do not always know or understand what experiences exactly trigger it. Some times like a runny nose, our body goes a little overboard in trying to protect us. Like a protective big brother that overreacts to anyone that might even think to hurt his little sister. The reaction is not founded on real information, but the possibility, the threat, the worst case scenario.
    The nose will clear, the big brother [i hope] will relax, if he accepts his little sister can handle herself, and/or he becomes okay with the person she has chosen.

    It'll resolve itself with time, heart, mind and a little spleen giving it's 2 cents...

    1. Ha! So true. So so true.

      I have heard somewhere that it takes about 19 minutes for the body to process a surge of adrenaline (if you are fighting/fleeing, that is -- it takes longer to flush if not channelled). So I try to remember this now.