Ever wondered why that person sat next to you on that empty bus? Yes, me too. It’s one of my pet hates. I’m pretty sure it’s one of yours. Space invasion. Why do they do it? Are they predators? I would surmise so, in some way. Do they have a need to control you? Yes, unfortunately, I think so. Are they sad? Yes. Are we being horrible by thinking they’re sad? Perhaps. Do they just want company? Yes. Are they lonely? Yes, no…I don’t know. All these questions are making me loco.
In a recent post, I talked about agoraphobia, briefly, and how I managed to get out on my own after three years of, well…not getting out on my own. I once did a seven year stint, but that’s another story, for another time.
I now go out for approximately two hours, all on my own, on weekend afternoons, to my local town centre…and I’m loving it! After the self imposed prison, there is freedom! And it’s sweet, so sweet.
I’m blessed enough to live less than two minutes walk away from a beach. I love the sea, so it should be easy. I’ve been keeping it up for about two months now, every Saturday, but something happened a couple of Saturday’s ago that almost stopped me getting back in the saddle.
My agoraphobia never felt like a waste, until lately. I’m starting to think, I’m almost fifty and I’ve let it rule me with an iron rod, all these years. I don’t want to carry that particular monkey on my back anymore. I’m sick and tired of it. I’m cheesed off, browned off, fed up.
For me, it’s a hereditary thing, both my parents suffer from it, particularly my dad, but he’d rather die than admit it. I’ve just outed him. Sorry dad. He’ll never read this anyway and I’m not saying anything bad about him and what I’m saying is the truth. Perhaps he never thought it was a problem. When I was sixteen, I knew I had a problem and I got the courage to talk to my dad about it after my mum had gone to bed. It was a nice, relaxed, cosy atmosphere, just us two, late at night, both reading. When I revealed my fears, he told me that I was just trying to make myself seem ‘special’.
After that, I never spoke about it again, until now. If this is ‘special’, I don’t want it.
I could have done without ‘special’ for my whole life.
Of course, when I met my husband, it all rubbed off on him and contaminated him. He had to deal with the fall out, which was considerable. I realise now that my father had to deal with his own agoraphobia and just couldn’t admit it, to himself, or to anyone else. And he certainly couldn’t admit that I had it too. He probably never will, and that’s okay. If he’s happy with that, then that’s fine. In fact, he has said that he’s very happy with hardly ever going out, but I’m not happy with it anymore. I don’t want to be crippled by it anymore. So, in my eyes, it’s not happening. Agoraphobia? What’s that? It’s not something in my experience. It’s something other people have. If you don’t admit it, it doesn’t exist. Right? Well, it does…but…now it’s a conscious effort. It’s psychological warfare. And I’m kitted out.
I was out at the beach recently, one innocuous Saturday afternoon, writing miscellaneous stuff and enjoying my freedom after several years and perhaps feeling a bit raw and vulnerable, but dealing with it, and there were plenty of empty seats, for miles around, yet, a couple came to sit on my bench.
I thought, okay, it’s a free country. You’ve got the WHOLE beach (with very many empty benches) and yet, you come and sit by me. But it didn’t end there. I was writing at the time, in my little pad, just writing crap, for comfort, and minding my own business and this very weird…don’t mean to be judgemental, but these guys were weird, or at least acting weird…there was an undertone that I didn’t like. Things like this just don’t happen on a sunny Saturday afternoon here. It was odd. Perverts are quite low on the ground here. Sweeping statement, I know, I can’t say that for sure but the Fylde coast (apart from tourists) has a good amount of retired or semi retired people, or at least people who are healthily interested in their own lives and their dogs. There’s a lot of dog lovers here. It’s a great place to have a dog, but people here are still interested in other people…to a point…perhaps not beyond that point. It’s a bit like Florida. Another sweeping statement.
Well, anyway, this guy was wearing a band type t-shirt, I don’t know, I didn’t pay too much attention, but he was the same age as me, roundabout, perhaps a bit older, and obviously thought himself as a ‘Peter Pan’, and the blonde woman with him, well, she had sunglasses on, so I couldn’t see her eyes. Ah, cowardly lion territory. That’s not playing the game, man.
After about a minute, of the man grinning, smiling and staring fixedly at me and throwing a few little comments in her direction, alarm bells began to ring. The lady in the couple positioned herself bodily, adjacent to me, and was staring, like I was an animal in a zoo.
Both of them were staring, unashamedly and fixedly, and I thought, what is your problem? Shall I sell you some tickets maybe? I continued writing and I admit, I was a bit impish in the end, because I decided to write, look at them and then write…to make them paranoid, like I was writing about them. Well, it would work for me. Then I thought, you know what, I’m getting a really sleazy vibe from you guys. I should stop trying to be clever. This is back firing. I’m outta here. The goods are not for sale. This stall is closed. Go swing somewhere else.
So I got up and walked on. Years ago, I would have thought, I don’t have the right to walk on, to walk away, or, I don’t have a right to stand my ground, or some such idiotic thinking. My instincts are starting to serve me well. I have at least gained some sense of self preservation after all these years. It felt so good to walk away. (I’m sure they were nice people really. Perhaps, it’s my problem for being so sensitive and paranoid)!
So I walked down the pier, found a very pleasing alternative position and never looked back. I spent a beautiful hour writing by the sea. However, I have become a bit paranoid since then and a bit apprehensive. Being in a more isolated part of the beach is a double edged sword. It may be nice to be alone but it can also make you vulnerable to predators. I have started to snarl at people when they come too close. Elvis lip. Maybe I snarl too much. How awful that I’ve become so defensive. But defensiveness can be the best form of attack.
Before that couple approached me, I remember thinking, how awful that we have become so unapproachable, through fear. I don’t know about you, but I am becoming less tolerable of predators as I get older. I’m relieved that I can call them out quicker, that I’m better at nipping it in the bud. That’s priceless, because they used to walk all over me.
The thing is, whatever happens, remember , there are people and forces who will try to STOP you progressing in your life journey. Isn’t it strange that they turn up at the most inopportune moments, when you are getting somewhere? You will find that they turn up at your most vulnerable moment.
Don’t let the bastards grind you down.