A few months ago I interviewed for an amazing job that seemed out of reach. Friends were encouraging, though, and their gentle nudges were just enough to get me to pursue the position. When the interview came, I felt REAL bad. There had been a stomach bug going around my office, and I blamed my bad feelings on that. My nerves were nearly unbearable, and as I sat in the small meeting room with six people carefully observing my responses to their list of questions, I thought I was going to lose it. I felt flushed, light headed. panicky, and extremely nauseous - I even interrupted the interview to tell them that I might have to run into the hall to barf, but hoped that it wouldn't cause them to think less of me.
While at first I thought it WAS a bug, I started having the same experience in other settings. Both of the following interviews were the same horrific event, but somehow I got the job (whoop!). Then, I found myself having these "episodes" with growing regularity - on the bus, in meetings, at church, out at dinner with friends.
It was horrible.
I was scared and angry with myself for being so... wrong. All I wanted to do was stay home or go out with Mike. The two-day board meeting with over 100 people for work was torture, and I began to dread all of the meetings - large and small - that were happening on a regular basis. I stopped taking the bus and walked to work, instead. I stayed home from church, and avoided gatherings. When I thought about the coming months and years I envisioned friendlessness, being a drag on my husband, and having children [someday] that would either a) be neurotic like me, or b) significantly resent my issues.
Finally, I made an appointment with my old therapist. We talked through some things, and she gave me exercises to do. Nothing crazy or groundbreaking, but just enough for the fear to stop growing.
This week I pride myself on making some returns to normalcy:
*I had a meeting with a donor, over lunch. A meeting! Over lunch! It was actually enjoyable.
*I spent all day at church with Mike while he preached, and was mentally/emotionally present.
*Yesterday's dentist appointment started off panicky, but I wrangled that beast and got my teeth sparkly.
It feels good. I am proud. Most importantly, my hope is growing in place of weedy fear.