A warm hello to every reader. This blog is the last of my seven-day agoraphobia challenge, so I want to finish by reflecting on what I have learned.
Firstly, most people are very kind. Many were ready to exchange a smile, make contact, chat, or point the way, something for which I am profoundly grateful.
Secondly, the effort of repeatedly facing individual fears during a long period away from home is very draining. I was amazed by how my mind would simply shut down after significant experiences, though it was oddly comforting to reach a point where I didn’t have enough energy even to be afraid.
Thirdly, there is absolutely no substitute for honesty. For example, texting my son in advance, to tell him how anxious I was about sitting in the back of his car between two child seats enabled me to sleep, instead of worrying obsessively all night. It also made it much easier to speak openly of my fears next day, and, in the end, to cope well with the journey as planned, in both directions.
Lastly, I realised more intensely than ever before, the power of really attentive listening. The manager of my mother’s care home listened without interrupting, understood, and believed me when I talked about my childhood. She didn’t try to interpret it, or to talk about her own experiences or opinions. Our whole conversation only lasted about ten minutes, yet the effect was cathartic, shocking and profound.
All in all, it’s been a hard, tiring, productive and helpful week. Here then, for those who value such things, is the last prayer of the trip, though my usual daily blog will continue tomorrow, for anyone who wishes to stay in touch. I’m also planning a series of personal pieces on the experience and consequences of child emotional abuse, a subject which is still so often overlooked.
Thank you to all who have followed my experiences over the last week, to those who have sent “likes”, comments, texts, and emails. Special thanks to the lovely friend who looked up my trains and followed the journey in real time, so that if I got stuck or distressed, I could ring her for advice, and she would know where I was. Thanks also to the two branches of my family who housed and fed me so well, and to my dear husband, who had a very dull week at home alone with a sprained ankle and two unsettled cats, somewhat put out by my disappearance!
Thank you for my agoraphobia
Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).
Here on Earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33, NLT).
In all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 9:28; NIV).
Although this may sound puzzling and perverse,
I want to thank you
For my lifelong agoraphobia –
For all the years of tense anticipation,
The yearning for avoidance,
And the overwhelming need to get away;
For the physical and mental shock of panic,
The sense of failure, helplessness,
For the endless, sad concealment, lies, excuses,
From all of which
I have so much to learn;
For the task of facing fear and dread repeatedly;
The triumph of success
In something new;
For the long, slow process of emotional healing,
As I learn to face and manage
All my fears.