Last night didn’t go as planned… (life with anxiety)

Last night didn’t go as planned. Part of me feels like I should just get used to it and acknowledge that this sort of thing is my new ‘normal,’ but I have a rebellious streak that won’t quite allow me to acquiesce – at least that much hasn’t changed.

The Plan
I’d seen the Facebook announcement a week or two in advance. One of my favorite local bands would be playing a small local bar I’ve always enjoyed seeing them play. Awesome. I put it on my calendar. I was excited about getting to see the band again since I really haven’t been able to conquer my anxiety enough to see them in quite some time. Last month, I’d had tickets for a venue practically in my back yard, and at the last minute, I couldn’t force myself to go. I told myself after a long day of work that I just wanted to stay home and relax. This time would be different, though, I thought; my husband was going to go with me, and it was Saturday night, not a Friday night after work.

What Went Down
About two hours to show time, the usual feelings of doubt and dread that present themselves before almost every social engagement I attend these days set in. Did I really want to go? No one would notice if I just didn’t show up. What if so-and-so is there? I don’t really want to talk to x; x makes me feel uncomfortable. The feeling of being squeezed, the heart that feels like it’s flip-flopping in my chest, the litany of negative thoughts…

But No, I thought, I’m not going to let my anxiety control me this time. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now; I’ve planned on this all week. I’m fucking going, and that’s all there is to it.

As we got ready to leave, my husband asked, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, of course; I’m fine.” Even with the one person I trust the most, I have difficulty explaining. If I tell him what I’m feeling; he’ll give me an easy way out and say we don’t have to go if I’m not feeling up to it. I am going to suck it up and go. It will be fun damn it!

We park the car and walk to the bar. The entrance is crowded. Fuck. The band is setting up in the corner of the front room. We manage to squeeze past the 20-somethings crowded around the bar and into the back room where there are actually some tables left. We can’t see the band from here, but maybe we’ll be able to hear them play anyway. It’ll be fine.

A group at another table in the back room gets a little larger as more friend join them. They become louder. The bar has its usual music playing in the background. The football game is on the TV. It’s loud.

A seat opens up in a different section of the bar, and we decide to move hoping to be able to hear the band better when they start playing. We can see the front room – it’s packed with people. There’s no way to even get to the bar if we did want drinks AND the only way out is through that crowd.

I don’t like this; it’s too loud!

             It’s a bar, bars are loud places, you know that. Once the band starts, you’ll be fine.

There are too many people. I feel confined. 

              You’re ridiculous; you know it’s always crowded here. You used to LIKE that about this place. It made it feel cozy.

The band is playing their first song and people are getting louder. I can’t focus on the music. I can’t even see the band from here.

               Just stay for a few songs; maybe it will clear out a bit.

At this point, I feel physically uncomfortable. Husband asks me if I want a drink. No. He offers to wade through the crowd to get it. No. Another group of people starts talking and laughing loudly nearby. I say, “Why do people have to scream and be so loud?” Husband can’t hear me. I pull out my phone to message him even though he’s sitting across the table from me. He finds this ridiculous, but I can’t have a conversation with him without yelling, and I can’t hear him when he talks either. He refuses to read the message.

What the hell is wrong with him?! He knows I can’t hear well and he keeps asking me to repeat myself, but he won’t fucking text with me? Why can’t he understand that it’s easier for me to talk with him that way than outIloud, especially when it comes to being anxious and struggling emotionally? I can’t do this. 

Overwhelmed, frustrated, and feeling like my heart is going to explode, I grab my jacket with a sigh. “Let’s go.”

I make my husband go in front of me to make our way through the crowd again. I can’t even handle trying to ask drunk people to politely move aside.I don’t know these people. I just want out! We eventually make it to the door. I glance at the band…I hope they don’t see me leaving.

Once out into the cold night air, I begin to cry. This is not how I wanted tonight to go. I’m angry and disappointed with myself. Why can’t I just have fun? I used to do this all the time! What is wrong with me? My husband asks if I want to go somewhere else. No, let’s just go home. My heart continues to thump like a rabbit trying to escape my chest cavity – I can hear the throb in my ears. It makes me a bit light-headed. Deep breaths. It’s okay to cry. Get it over with. 

In the silence of the car driving home, my heart begins to slow, and the tears begin to dry.

I woke up this morning and knew I wanted to write about this. I don’t share because I want people to understand ME. I share because I know there are so many others out there who have similar experiences. We are not alone. If I can help just one person to feel just a little less alone, I will have succeeded in my purpose. If reading this helps one friend or family member of someone who lives with anxiety to understand just a tiny bit more of what their loved one experiences, I will have succeeded in my purpose. We are not alone.