I have become so very reclusive in the months since Clara died. I have struggled with overcoming anxiety for as long as I can remember, but now it’s a combination of anxiety and depression and fear-of-sobbing-in-public that makes home a safer place to stay. I’m not complaining. I like being at home. I’m comfortable at home. I have things to do that keep me busy at home. I can control my surroundings, at home.
Well this weekend, I left my comfortably safe home and ventured out into the world. I would not have, but my best friend Lee needed me to help her shop for clothes. She’s starting a new job today – the first time she’s worked outside of the home in six years – and she needed “business casual” outfits. She asked, I said “sure” – then promptly began hoping she would go on without me, or maybe her husband would want to go instead – not because I didn’t want to support my friend, but because I am that fucking terrified of being out in the big wide world.
However, I love my best friend, so when she came to pick me up, I put on my brave face and went. And, much to my surprise, I had a really great day.
At the first shop, I spotted a pretty lace tunic and figured I’d just try it on to occupy myself whilst Lee was trying on clothes. By the time we made it to the dressing rooms, my left arm was loaded down with various shirts and pants and a jacket or two. To my further surprise, everything fit (everything fit!) and I even had to ask the saleslady to grab a smaller size on two of the shirts (a smaller size! that never happens!). I reminded myself that David has been after me to buy some new clothes – pants without a ripped waistband, shirts that don’t have holes and craft-project-stains on them – and I decided that I would spend a little of our carefully saved money on just a few basics.
At the mall, I told myself that it is important to have panties that do not have more holes than fabric, and I splurged on new ones with pretty colors and patterns. Ten pairs of new panties – how decadent! After we’d done our shopping, we headed to a local Mexican restaurant, where we ate chicken burritos and queso dip, and occupied a table for much longer than anyone else, just talking and laughing and enjoying our day of freedom.
I didn’t worry about my kids at all, which is hugely uncommon for me. Addah was at her best friend’s house for the night, and David and Lakin were out enjoying the day together with ice cream and window shopping. Clara was on my mind and woven throughout our conversation all day, but I didn’t cry, and I didn’t have a panic attack. I smiled at strangers. I am not often very good at overcoming anxiety, but I did manage it on this day.
I came home with two new pairs of pants, four shirts, a jacket, a pile of new panties, and a smile on my face. Happy to be home, oh yes, but happy that I’d managed to temporarily quiet my demons and enjoy the day, even more so.