Have you ever considered what bears and grocery stores have in common? I have. It’s fear. Bears and grocery stores have fear in common.
Some people are afraid of bears. I’m not. I have a healthy respect for them, and I know proper procedures to prevent bear encounters and protocol should I ever encounter one anyway (though I’m sure all of that knowledge would elude me at such a time). But I do not fear them. Not exactly. I mean, I was wary enough to avoid cooking when I stayed in Shoshone National Forest, or in GNP or Yellowstone, places like that. I was afraid to cook, but that was mostly because I was afraid of myself – of not being cautious enough or missing spots during cleaning. I was afraid I’d fuck it up. I didn’t actually go to sleep in fear. I happily climbed into my tent and into my sleeping bag, falling asleep nearly instantly after long days of hiking.
I’m not afraid of bears.
Some people are afraid of grocery stores. I’m gonna go ahead and assume you’ve figured out how I know. I am afraid of grocery stores. But I believe it’s less about being in public (which is a whole separate issue for me) and more about whom I may encounter there. I don’t live in a huge metropolitan area, which makes the chances rather high for running into people whom I’d rather not run into. Even so, it’s happened a disproportionate amount of times. Sometimes I’ve been so shaken up that I’ve left the store without making my purchases. I believe there was only once that I had a buggy full of groceries, and I left in a panic. But I’ve seen people I’d rather not with high frequency. My anxiety and fear ratcheted up to the point where I’d drive to the grocery (after allowing myself to run out of pretty much everything), then sit in the car in the parking lot for several minutes to an hour before finally driving away without ever getting out of the car.
I’m afraid of grocery stores.
This fear has caused me to spend more money than I can really afford (considering other shit I desperately need to take care of) and damage my health with fast food. There’s no risk I’ll run into anyone when I just go through a drive-thru and go home. But it’s not a healthy way to live, not for mind or body.
I went to the grocery store today. It sounds so simple, it’s nothing more than an inconvenience. Rightfully so. It’s pretty irrational to be petrified of grocery shopping. But I am. I have been. I went today, and I didn’t make a quick run, either. I started in produce and made my way around the store, selecting my purchases. I’ll need to go again tomorrow, as I didn’t take a list today (it was more about pushing through my fear and getting started with the basics). I got nearly everything I need. But I need a few more things. Perhaps I’ll make crawfish étouffée tomorrow.
I had a big day for me, really. I got up early (on a Saturday – what the fuck is the world coming to (I like to sleep until 3 PM or Sunday)), got dressed (that’s important to do before going out in public, or so I’ve been told), grabbed a bottle of water and hit the park. My foot still hasn’t healed (what the fuck, man), but I walked a trail anyway. Along a lake. It was so fucking humid, but it was lovely. It was lovely. The birds and the flowers and the water and the occasional breeze. Left there and went to a café (sort of), got a fruity iced tea thingy and a croissant. Then I went straight to the grocery store. I only sat in the car for about fifteen minutes (trust me, that’s good for me). When I got home, I didn’t stop. There has been zero bed or moping or bed moping today. Mowed the yard, fixed the new gravel that’s on the driveway, babied some suffering plants, and now I’m doing laundry. I need a shower so badly, but I wanna make sure most of the sweating is behind me before I do!
I kept a promise today. Promises are sacred to me. You don’t fuck with a promise unless you didn’t have a choice (and you pretty much always have a choice, so you better have a fucking good reason). I promised to work on myself today, push past the fear and do it. And I did. And I felt (feel) fantastic and optimistic afterward. I know optimism is a feeling like any other – it comes and goes with the days and moods. But for now, I’m enjoying it. And when it begins to fade again, I’ll have to push past the fear again. Today was one day. This is one weekend. I need to make it two. And keep going.
Because if I don’t – I’ll get to Oregon or Washington and nothing will have changed. I will go to work as I do here. I will drive straight home as I do here. And I will cry and mope and wish for adventure. And I will hold myself back. If I can’t push through it here, what makes me think I will there? I don’t want to move to the PNW just to continue the lifestyle I have now. What’s the fucking point of that? If I’m to live, I need to start living.
What else am I afraid of?
I’m not afraid of spiders – not majorly so. I have a massive fear of venomous ones. But little jumping spiders? They’re fucking adorable. The wolf spider I found in my garden made me scream like a little girl and literally run away. That was pretty funny. But I didn’t kill it. I let it be…and used gloves when I got back to it.
I was afraid of pubs. I pushed through it, and I’m okay there now. Not exactly comfortable, but okay.
I’m afraid of my nosebleeds. What do they mean? Dunno. But that’s the kind of thing I’m afraid of.
I’m afraid of my neighbors. Not in any dangerous sense, but in the sense that they’re there. Watching me. Judging me. Talking about me. Hell, I should just say I’m afraid of people and have done.
I’m afraid of attachment. I crave it, and yet I fear it. Because allowing yourself to be completely vulnerable exposes your soft underbelly. And some people like to stab those, repeatedly.
I’m afraid of the government, and all of its agents, because of the power we’ve given over to it.
I’m afraid of the threat of tornadoes. Always was, irrationally so. But now that one has hit my house, the fear is greater.
I’m afraid of heights, but not to a crippling extent. Not enough to hinder me from walking cliff trails in the mountains.
I’m afraid I’ll die alone. Nothing I can really do about it aside from keeping myself open to possibilities and otherwise keep on keepin’ on.
I’m afraid of missing out. Of never discovering meaning or purpose. Perhaps there isn’t one. And if there isn’t, then I’m afraid I’ll never be content with that answer. Again. Just gotta keep on keepin’ on, and keep myself open to new ideas and possibilities.
I’m afraid of suffering. I’m afraid of cancer and heart disease. Too much of it in my family, and it scares me. I need to live more healthfully and mindfully.
I’m afraid of my bad memory and what it may mean for my old age, should I make it there. Yet another thing I need to work on improving.
I’m afraid of touching crickets. When I’d go fishing, I could never bait my own hook. I could never get a fish off of a hook, either. I couldn’t touch the cricket. I’d try and try and try, then squeal and back away. Yes. I’m such a girl in some ways. In more ways than I let on here sometimes, I think. And you know what I mean. Soft. Emotional. Sensitive. Gentle. Nervous. Bashful. Afraid to touch bugs, but don’t want to see them dead. Those aren’t purely feminine traits, but fucks sake why am I trying to explain this. Anyway. Yeah. I’m more of a “girl” than I let on.
Hm. I think that’s enough for now. I’m actually in a calm, gentle, smiley mood. So don’t let all this fear talk fool you. I’m looking inward and taking inventory as I am wont to do. Today I don’t find it depressing. Today it’s like cleaning out the cobwebs and taking stock.
Now to see what tomorrow holds.