After holding back my 100lb dog, so he wouldn’t claw the houseguests trying to meet them, I was inspired to write this story/inner monologue on a snippet of time in the life of agoraphobia.
My dog, Sir Charles Barkley the yellow Labrador Retriever, is an obnoxiously strong, quite large rascal with bad manners. I love him to pieces. We got him to replace Nike, my deceased service dog, four years ago, when Sir Charles was a little puppy with massive paws and goofy ears.
He has spent his happy life either hanging out with me in my room or running in circles, top speed around the swimming pool, ever since we moved to Texas. He and I are extremely close; Charlie, as I usually call him, is my best buddy.
My parents were hosting a cul-de-sac families wonton party, a custom in my mixed-race household that has become a tradition with people everywhere we’ve lived. It’s always a hit.
Naturally, I was absolutely dreading tonight. However, I had an especially wonderful day, and was somehow able to completely throw the thought out of my head about the party all day.
Unfortunately for me, I had to let my dog out. I had been reading when this time would eventually come.
I asked Charlie, “You sure you need to go out?” He cocked his head, the goofy way he away does at the sound of a question sentence.
“I know, I know.” I continued as I stood up to take him to the back door. I walked a couple of steps outside after I released the hound, and turned to walk inside to type something up for my website; however, I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to be typing. “Oh well,” I told myself.
Anywho. I opened the back door and walked inside; just as the door clicked shut, I noticed the first guest had come inside with wine—they were jolly, loud, and friendly sounding. We truly do have the best cul-de-sac.
Since it was just me and the family home until that point, I wasn’t wearing a bra, and was in a thin purple spaghetti strap with extremely short yoga shorts PJ bottoms! I had to sneak in through the living room and around the corner of the kitchen, through the pool room and down the hall, and sprinted into my room to change. I put on a bra, and a nice blouse, jeans, and even some mascara.
I have rarely worn any makeup for nearly a decade, but I could hear my Grandma’s voice in my head when she, as always, tries to convince me to wear makeup, saying, “just put on some mascara and you’ll feel so much better.” Usually, I resist the urge to obey my Grandma in that regard, but being the expert-level procrastinator that I am, I ever so carefully applied mascara.
Each time another neighbor rang doorbell, my heart jumped out of my chest in an irrational panic.
Finally, it was time. I had to bite the bullet, and go out to greet the neighbors. At this point, there are around 10 people in the kitchen, all boisterous and laughing as I braved the walk towards them. On my way across the house—another three people arrived! What the flip was I walking in to?
I took a deep breath, and I walked up to welcome the first the people in my pathway heading in the direction of everyone else—the next-door neighbor, 70-year-old hardcore Republican cowboy-type, the classic Southern middle-class housewife in her 60s who greeted us when we arrived here, and another man, whom I didn’t recognize, in his late-50s/early-60s with a short peppered beard.
Surprising myself, per usual, I walked up to the smiling faces with unbelievably convincing false bravado; I extended my hand and first introduced myself to the neighbor whom I guiltily have been actively avoiding for 6 months (like an asshole) because I knew he’d enjoy talking to me. Ugh, I seriously detest being so agoraphobic—I wish I could just socialize with ease like I used to! “Okay,” I told myself, “I’ve got this.” [Deep breath]
Overanalyzing myself in a way that no one but me could, I chatted with him, thinking while we talked about how I was speaking too loudly, laughing too maniacally Kamala-like, and doing what I do best—talking 100 miles a minute while saying entirely too much in my responses to their questions.
As another neighbor proceeded to begin addressing me, Charlie saved the day by being a complete mannerless jackass—jumping on the back door.
I took that as my ticket out of that meet-and-greet. Or so I assumed.
I strolled over to the back door, and struggled with getting my hyperhyped dog to sit so I can allow him in. Like an inconsiderate turd nugget, he repeatedly lunged at the ajar door, tugging at his collar, which I was gripping firmly; bracing myself to remain in control of my giant doggo.
Before I could even get him settled down, I suddenly realized that my newly befriended neighbors had formed a semi-circle around me at the back door. I stared into Sir Charles Barkley’s eyes, wishing he could read my thoughts, “now of all times, Charlie? Why you gotta do me like that!?”
The old cowboy next door, Grady, bent down to Charlie’s level and told him to settle with an outreached hand and calm, yet firm voice.
Naturally, to make me look like a total clown, he settled right quick for Grady. Also intrinsically, I began talking too much and too fast; my lovely new neighbors flashing [likely] genuine smiles of encouragement in my direction, but being from Cali, I was overwhelmed with the desire to take it as them being overly kind, therefore suspiciously fake.
I couldn’t help but over-explain why my dog currently isn’t allowed to roam the house freely: because he’d hurt my 16-year-old, 6-pound [soaking wet] cat, Annie, simply trying to play with her because he loves her and gets super overexcited—all while preventing him from jolting these kind, new [old] crowd of people whom I already had postponed meeting as long as possible.
To my gratitude, they finally began to disperse, leaving me with Lynn, Grady’s precious wife who is living with inoperable brain tumors, with the sweetest, most gentle heart and an adorable juvenile giggle. Unsurprisingly, I panicked inside about having an extra and completely unavoidable social interaction.
Right away, I noticed that Charlie was immediately soothed by Lynn’s mere presence. It is always a truly beautiful thoment in life to watch the instant bond, and almost a mental connection, between an animal and a human.
I stayed and conversed with Lynn for a while, going back to over-explaining myself like I had been, but by this time, I got to the point of being mostly over-giggly and super talkative.
After what seemed like an eternity, I finally manage to escape back to the sanctuary of my bedroom without much more conversation, and a charming, yet brief hello to passersby. I waited until I was through the pool room before I unleashed the hound. Sir Charles rapidly bolted down my hallway, his grumbly stomach ever-so motivating him to take the opportunity to make a break for it—straight for the food bowl.
Whew! I escaped!
My first thought to myself was, “I am so not going back out there for dinner. Holy guacamole.”
As pathetic as it sounds when reflecting, I actually texted my mother to ask if she could send my kids in later to bring me some wontons and whatever other Chinese foods dad made to go with them. Even more pathetic is that I am, in fact, super proud of myself for going out there and talking to people like a real human. Ugh, why am I so lame? Im a grown-ass woman! Gah! [Sigh].
As I crept into the hall to see if there was any clear path to fill up my water, I noticed I could hear a young-sounding woman tellming my daughter Mary that she believes she briefly glimpsed me as I was walking through earlier.
“Well, there you have it,” I said to myself, “I did my part as a grown woman who was charming and delightful. Success. I adulted.”
But hey, on the bright side, I have some sincerely awesome, friendly neighbors! How lucky are we? They are totally our kind of people too. Hopefully, that’ll be the last time I see them for a while. Going back to evading encounters and giving the neighborly wave if my timing is poor. But I liked them. [smile]
Thank you for reading this. As an agoraphobic, I thought maybe if someone had an agoraphobic in their life, maybe I could help you understand the irrational fear that plagues so many people, especially following the trauma of COVID-19 tyranny.
I can only imagine COVID lockdowns either enabled agoraphobics to blissfully isolate on-demand or for normies as a result of the effects of isolation. I feel for these people. It is difficult to accept rationalizations of irrational behaviors, but it’s not your/their fault you’re like this and they’re like them.
We can work on coping methods and other behavioral modifications, but it takes time. Usually, counseling is involved and even necessary once they link a trauma that triggered the agoraphobia. These changes didn’t evolve overnight and they don’t repair overnight.
Maybe you know someone who isn’t necessarily bad at being social when thrust into social scenarios, but still cancels and avoids actually going to the social event or never interested in going to stores. Someone who actively avoids seeing people they love spending time with. Someone who comes off as irrationally irrational.
It might be hard to believe, but we do exist, and it is a miserable aspect of a beautiful life that could be more wonderful if I could just be normal again. Again, thanks for reading.
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This is a civil war between Communism and America. There is no more Democrat vs Republican right now. America needs to be united in the party of Patriots who believe in our constitution and the inherent right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
The radical Left has thrown their hail Mary, and we need to get our heads in the game and intercept that pass before it’s too late. Whether or not you believe Orange Man Bad, The Republicans who followed President Donald J Trump are the only hope for remaining a constitutional republic.
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