Something I Wish I Had Done Differently

Stop Signs Mean Stop

Stop Sign-State Property

This happened 20 years ago and I am still mad at myself. I was driving to work at Boston College and stopped at a stop sign, like the cautious driver I am. (My son thinks I drive like a grandma.) I was ready to go when I was rear-ended by a sports car. I was upset, It was obviously his fault however, here was the red-faced blustery aggressive man who started yelling at ME. “This is your fault you know” and then he proceeded to pull out his reluctant 9 year old son from the car and said “he’s my witness.” I didn’t fight back, I didn’t yell, curse or call the police I was in total shock. He kept yelling and I kept cowering; it couldn’t be my fault I knew that but he kept screaming loudly. I wish I had called 911 and made the man stay there but while I told him I was calling, he said he would leave. I was a cowardly wimp, a mashed potato, a limp piece of asparagus. In short, I was a wuss. I hated myself for that years later.My husband and I both called this angry, nasty guy but we got nowhere. Months later, I was rear-ended again and I jumped out of my car and yelled at this lady, taking all my aggravation from the past, on her. Sorry, lady. I guess I was just practicing. To the guy who rear-ended me all those years ago, you are an ass and a bully and a horrible parent to try and involve an innocent little boy. Shame on you.

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Saint Patrick’s Day 2011

Green Carnation

Image via Wikipedia

It’s March 17, 2011 and it’s St. Patrick’s Day;  top o’ the morning to you!  Enjoy the bright sunshine outside lass and lassie. Since I was a wee child myself, I would hunt for a green sweater and become Irish for just this special day. When I worked at Boston College, many moons ago, my boss would bring in a box of green carnations for all us wee lassies to wear. This happened every single year, a tradition we all looked forward to. Every year on St. Patrick’s Day while we sipped our early morning coffee, we would look up and around for the inimitable Leo O’ Sullivan to come in. His twinkling eyes, always dancing the Irish jig would smile at each one of us as he proudly brought in his big white box of spray painted green carnations that he held under his arm. There was a flower for every one of his “Irish employees.” There is not a single St. Patrick’s Day that goes by that I don’t remember him, elf-like and impish.

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Fibro Frights And Fatal Fantasies

 

anxiety

Image by FlickrJunkie via Flickr

 

I messed up and didn’t realize that the PFAM’s ( Patients For A Moment) blog carnival deadline was by midnight tonight. The subject was fear. I’m wondering if deep inside I just didn’t feel up to writing, competing, finishing or if I was dissassocating myself from the project. I was going to talk about the web of anxiety and how it feels when it starts to swell in my stomach. It always starts in my stomach beginning with a slight twinge, quickly advancing to panic and anxiety. My arms and legs feel tingly and somehow not connected to my body, I am alternately hot and cold or both together.

The first time that queasy sensation started was the summer before my freshmen year at college.  I was eating dinner with my family in a fancy Italian restaurant in Queens, NY.  I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t speak, it was the first time I had ever felt anxious and I remember calling it “cold dread.” How could I explain this new, horrible feeling when I had never experienced it before? How do you name something you do not know?

Those fearful sensations in my body became like a close cousin to me. We lived as if we were conjoined; I could not separate reality from frightful fantasies. It was something that I have learned to live with and deal with.  I started with a tiny germ of truth and blew it up out of proportion. There was no stopping my obsessive worrying, nothing helped: warm milk, hot baths, reading a book, distraction.  I remember a time when I was sitting in the trolley in Boston and thought what I had whispered to my friend was overheard by someone else and I became overwhelmed and frightened. What if? What if? It became a wakeful nightmare for me.  I did a lot of catastrophizing back then and even now, once in a while, it still tries to creep into my brain. I need to forcefully push it away, as if an intruder was about to enter and I had to slam the door hard, with brute force.  Sometimes that is enough, sometimes it isn’t.

My cousin’s stomach ache could be pancreatic cancer,  my sister’s low throaty voice could mean she was manic, my narrow-angled glaucoma could make me blind in a second.  I worked with a hot-headed, explosive employee that I thought, for sure, would bring a gun to a grievance meeting and shoot us all. I remember strategically seating myself closest to the door, just in case. I lived in a world of tragedy, of horrendous outcomes, death, madness, cancer, stroke, coma, terrorist attacks, murder, mayhem and more. “Health and welfare” is what I worry about as I tried to succinctly wrap it up like an adorned Christmas present, perfect silver wrapping with a tight red bow.

The truth of the matter is that now we DO live in a fearful world and something COULD happen.  Fear perpetuates fear and even while  I am writing this down I feel the first fingers of anxiety like a gray mouse with darting eyes. I take deep cleansing breathes. I ask myself questions: “what are the odds of that happening?” The media doesn’t help: “Don’t go to public places when you are traveling in Europe” What? Of course we would go to public  places if we were in Europe. Is too much information just too much?  I refuse to watch the news on TV before I go to sleep.  The only thing we can do is try to push the worry aside and live as normally as we can; even if it takes enormous strength and effort. Carpe Diem as they said at Boston College where I worked: Seize The Day, as best as you can.