Sunday, September 24, 2017

Trip Trigger, Spatial Befuddlement, List of Shame

I know you’re supposed to keep information about out-of-town trips on the down-low on social media, etc. for fear that one your of friends/readers will find out where you live and rob you blind while you’re gone, but I’ve decided it’s safe enough for me to flout that rule. Firstly, Mr. Typist and Buddy will be holding down the fort while I’m gone, and you do not want to tangle with that lethal combo, and secondly, perhaps I am naively trusting, but somehow I can’t imagine that any readers of the Good Typist would come skulking around in a black cap with a giant loot bag, scheming to swipe our silver candle sticks under the cover of darkness. (Good luck finding silver candle sticks in the Typist household anyway.)

So here goes: I’m going on a trip! To Ireland! With my sister, the Good Librarian! I’ve waited my entire life for this, and I’m so excited I just want to cry thinking about it. I can’t believe it’s actually happening. I am a burned-out mess of a human who has had the spirit sucked out of me by the emotional ravages of the last few years, and I need this. I really, really need it. So, it’s a happy thing. Definitely a happy thing. But of course, because I am me, I can’t just breezily throw a few pairs of flip-flops into a carry-on Rick Steves-style and jet off with nary a care. There are none of those free-and-easy doin’s for this Typist. Even with this glad event, my brain insists upon latching onto Things That Could Go Terribly Wrong, and churning those dreadful waters until I whip myself into an actual, for-reals panic attack, which finally happened yesterday. And I mean a crying, heart slamming, shaking, light-headed, have-to-sit-down-and catch-my-breath panic attack. I was fine one minute, just putting away the condiments, then the next minute, boom. It hit. I haven’t had an official attack like that in a long time. I usually go through my days with a steady level of low-grade anxiety coursing through my veins. I’m used to it. In fact, it’s my primary energy source. But I don’t generally get slammed with full-on panic attacks.

When I talked it through with the Mr., I realized that I have been harboring a deep fear of getting lost in the airports. I’ve never been scared of flying, I’m not scared of being in a country I’ve never been to, and I’m not scared of getting mugged or losing my passport. All of that seems completely manageable. The thing that has me in knots is the thought of trying to navigate my way through an unfamiliar airport on a timeline. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re correct—this is a completely irrational fear for a number of reasons, all of which I already know, because more rational people than I have given me those reasons. However, this is one of those cases where rationality is not making headway with my fear.

All of my life, I have had serious deficiencies in the area of spatial processing. I’m only now beginning to understand how badly it’s handicapped me, and how it’s fed and fueled my natural anxious tendencies. Here is a (very) partial list of things that it has made it difficult to impossible for me:

·         Driving (not the physical act, but the finding-my-way-around/directional part)
·      Passing the kinesiology section of my massage therapy exam (that was a long time ago, but still.)
·         Minecraft
·         Having a career as an interior designer
·         Knowing right from left (I am not kidding.)
·         Comprehending directions that include “the north side of the street” or, “the south side of the street.” How the heck am I supposed to know what “side” North is? We’ve already established that I’m hardly a human compass.
·         Reading blueprints and diagrams
·         Sewing
·         Putting together anything from Ikea
·         Passing math and geometry (I never really did.)
·         Reading a map

In fact, just typing these out is giving me nervous prickles. As Mr. Typist said, it’s a cruel god who drops a human being into 3-D universe and gives them no spatial skill with which to navigate. Mine is a life spent compensating for these deficiencies, and this upcoming trip has triggered a flood of memories of being lost in O’Hare, missing appointments because I can’t find my way, avoiding events because they’re in an unfamiliar location, and a whole plethora of similar mini-traumas that finally manifested in my little bout of PTSD-driven panic. It’s deeply frustrating and I have a lot of shame about it, but there is it. I’ve survived this long, and others have much worse afflictions, so I’m not looking for sympathy or to paint myself as a victim. It’s just a major bugaboo I wish I didn’t have to contend with.

That having been said, Mr. Typist found interactive maps of the airports online, and I feel much better now. Not that I think for a second I could actually read those maps well enough to help myself, but just the intellectual understanding that it’s not all chaos, but that there is indeed, a plan and a layout and documentation of such, calms me. That, and Ms. Librarian is a sharp as a tack and I’m sure I can lean on her if I get disoriented. So it’s all good. We’re going to Ireland, baby!

--Kristen McHenry

1 comment:

Nancy Harris said...

Hi Kristen, Traveling today is stressful, but you will be fine. In the airports are plenty of signs with adequate directions and plenty of restrooms! Have a wonderful trip with Laura. You both deserve a "sister" vacation!