Crowded Beach

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

There’s no doubt about it in my mind.  Well, maybe a little.  No, maybe a lot.  I am undecided.  I go back and forth; and it’s making me seasick, right here on dry land. Anyhow, here is my premise: for me as an agoraphobic, summer is the scariest season of the year.  Now for the facts as I make them up:

Seasons Change and So Do I

Snow

Winter is over.  It ended at 2:30 last Thursday, when I got a note from the National Weather Bureau that told me I was allowed to put away my snow shovel. Even though I still wasn’t convinced, I put away my shovel and started to cry.

It’s not that I love winter so much – it’s not that I will miss the frostbite and the slipping on the ice – it’s that I know what lies ahead. You see around here, winters last a long, long time; so long that we skip right over spring and go straight into summer.  And that’s what worries me – no, that’s what SCARES me.  I am NOT ready for summer.  Summer is the toughest season of all for people like me, and here’s why.

The Pooch Pouch                        

parka

First off, I will have to change my wardrobe.  I can no longer hide my pooch pouch underneath my parka.  Layers upon layers of clothing will be stripped off, and I don’t like that one bit.  Clothing is a way to hide from people. Now I can’t hide and that makes me vulnerable.  People might actually look at me and see my body.That is something that’s practically unbearable.  I already miss my hoodie.  It was nice and warm and cozy; and I could duck my head into it and cover up whenever I wanted.  It was like carrying a house around with me, a security blanket that I could wear.  And now it’s gone, hanging way in the back of my closet. 

Body Image

scale

I had been planning to lose weight over the winter, just like everyone else.  And, just like everyone else, I didn’t. Now what?  They didn’t invent a magic pill that would help a person drop 20 pounds in a week. Does this mean that I will have to accept my body for whatever shape it’s in, as long as I am healthy?  That’s what everyone says – and it’s a great theory – but does it work?  You tell me.  All I know is, the last time I stepped on a scale, the arrow pointed to: “one person at a time, please.”

Is anyone happy with the way they look?  I bet even Angelina Jolie complains to Brad Pitt, “Oh, I just hate myself! My cheek bones are too perfect!” And he fires back, “Big deal, look at me.  My abs are too rock-hard!” Will this madness never end?  Probably not; not as long as I keep blogging.

Revealing Yourself                      

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yes, summer is here, and that means it is time to reveal yourself to the world. The weather turns hot, and you have to open your windows.  That means that people can see you.  How can anyone hide when people can look right into your house and see what you are doing?

It’s creepy, if you ask me.  So now I have to find an interior room with no windows and stay in there until it cools off enough to pull down the shades.

Crazy Neighbors

And get a load of this: if your neighbors can see into your house, you can see into theirs, too!  Who knows what kind of weird stuff is going on in there?

At least in the winter, nobody could see it.  But now they can.  In the summer, the world is an open book.  There is no place to hide.

Going Out                              

Lady Beach

Going out of the house is the worst! It’s risky and dangerous and embarrassing; but sooner or later someone is going to try and drag you out.

You make excuses like: it’s too hot, and they tell you to put on shorts.  Then you realize that if you do, people we see your legs.  That will never do, so you make up a lie like: it’s still to hot.  And that is when they suggest going to the beach to “cool off.”

Going to the beach does NOT cool me off.  The sun blazes down and bakes me to a crispy caramel color.  My body temperature rises and I sweat, which confuses me into thinking I am having a panic attack.  And then I have a real one because I have convinced myself it’s inevitable.  Then some 50-foot tall woman emerges from the water and starts eating sunbathers for lunch (okay that part was a nightmare I had, but it doesn’t make it any less scary.)

All or Nothing

Old Fashioned Beach

The beach is total panic time.  I stick out like a sore thumb, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

If I try to dress conservatively in order to calm my nerves, people stare.  Straw hats are out of fashion, and now I feel like Gomez Addams.  I stick my toes into the water and try to do a little soft shoe for levity, but it splashes everyone and a bully comes over and pushes me into the seaweed.

Revealing

If I try to fit in more by dressing in a modern way, that also fails. I inevitably select the wrong style of bathing suit, drawing more stares for revealing way too much.

I wind up spending the day sitting in my beach chair, towels and blankets wrapped around me for protection. And in the way, I have yet again managed to build a house around me.  I have once again found a way to be separate from everyone else. And I don’t dare get up or else I will attract the laughter of everyone else, even the dolphins.

Pangs

Dolphins

Tired and hungry, my fears subside, simply because I no longer have the strength to feed them.  Luckily, I then discover a huge bag of Fritos in my lunch basket and I am saved.

I quickly eat them, drink a half gallon of iced tea, and slip off into a well-deserved nap, out of sheer exhaustion. Five hours later, I am safe at home after a draining day.

Summer is a tough time for someone with agoraphobia.  If you know someone like me, have some sympathy, show some kindness, and offer a hug – then again, a wave from across the street is equally good (just don’t say anything about how they look!)

SMILE!

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About Joe

Freelance designer and writer whose goal is to help others by writing about my experiences with fear and anxiety (agoraphobia), health struggles (cancer) and my wonderfully-happy life as a husband and stay-at-home dad. I want to empower everyone to have a happy life.

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