Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Taking Leave

I took a half day personal leave this afternoon.

I'd gone outside around lunchtime to run an errand and, when I hit the parking lot, I forced myself to stop - stop talking to myself, stop walking, stop stewing - and just breathe in, letting myself recognize how gorgeous the day was. And then I made a spur-of-the-moment decision.

I turned around, went back up to my boss's office and told her I was leaving for the day...to do what, I wasn't quite sure beyond a little retail therapy. All I knew was that this weather on this day was too good to ignore. I needed to be outside in it.

Now, I'm not a big shopper, especially when it comes to clothes shopping. Frankly, I kinda hate shopping for myself. I don't mind shopping with and/or for other people so much. Just...I hate doing it for myself and tend to do the dash in/grab necessities/dash out method. Usually to my detriment as this also means I rarely try things on. But it had boiled down to a flat out necessity. Really. I couldn't keep on with my current meager wardrobe a moment longer. Not when I'd blown out the last pair of leggings I owned on Saturday and the last pair of yoga pants I own got eaten by the Divatologist's patio furniture. I knew, even though I didn't want to spend the money, I was going to have to do it. The turmoil my closet was causing me was a voice I could silence in an hour.

Anyway, yeah. So I left my office for the day - no direction or plan.

As I drove out of the lot, I headed down south a ways, intending on heading to The Mall. But the voices in my head were chattering at me, telling me shopping today - new moon day - was a bad idea because I wouldn't find anything that I would like/would fit/would be affordable. They got so loud, the voices, and they were chiming in with a whole choir of other voices I'd been listening to for several days, and the cacophony became so overwhelming, I pulled off onto a side street into a residential area.

I stopped.

I sat.

I breathed.

I mighta screwed up my face tight and squeezed out a few tears.

And then I got out of my car and started walking.

*squick* *squick* *squick* *squick*

That's the sound my shoes make. Any of you who know me day-to-day will understand what I'm talking about. I focused on the sound of my shoes, how the sun felt, what the air tasted like as I sucked it in and blew it out. Pretty soon, the voices began to subside, pushed to the rear of the anxiety bus as the bus pushed, swayed, and squicked its way down the unfamiliar streets littered with the same house side by side by side.

Is that why people like the suburbs? Because it's anonymous? Indistinguishable from every other house/person/life? A safe place to hide?

Eventually, I began to let the voices re-surface, one by one. I needed to figure out what they were each saying. Maybe if I understood the words, I'd understand what was at the root of my angsty problem. For days, those voices had been whispering, chattering, rising in unison, until I couldn't tell what was what...what was mine...what wasn't.

For over an hour, I walked. I listened...carefully. I unraveled. I acknowledged. I, at turns, nodded or shook my head - sorting through the pile, keeping and discarding as appropriate.

Vulnerable, yes. Afraid, yes. Embarrassed, yes. Hurt? No. That one's not mine. Nor were most of the other voices. Sure, the past experience filters had all been applied liberally, the layers upon layers of tangled webs I've woven over the years were there. But, when I cut to the chase, there was very little I needed to own, acknowledge, and then just stop it.

When I got back to my car - once I found my car - I felt better. I felt...strong. I felt like myself. Yes, I still felt vulnerable, uncertain, embarrassed. But I wasn't afraid anymore. It's not like I'm being gained upon by a Clown Klatsch, after all. There's nothing whatsoever to be afraid of! No matter what, I've got Lex, I've got Vinny, I've got a job I love, I've got a life I love. I have stability, intelligence, a sense of humor, and abilities - creative and otherwise - no one can take from me.

A life well-lived isn't without risk. I know this lesson better than most. So what the hell is there to be afraid of? Nothing, I can assure you.

I came here to chew bubble gum and kick some ass and I'm all outta gum.

Subsequently, I went shopping. And I found a HELL of a sale - 40% off the entire store which meant I got to treat myself to a new, fantabulously hot, plunge bra.

And I came home...with new clothes and the new moon rose and I am just fine.

Yes. Finally.

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