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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Breathe in, breathe out

Bear with me while I remind myself to observe basic bodily functions. I forget the simplest things when I'm in the throes of nerves.

Oh, enough already, Erica. Yeah, I can hear people thinking that. What's with you and your freaking nervousness? You've done these parties for years and years. You have friends there. You know you'll have fun. You'll get incredible spankings and lots of hugs and all the attention your little inner narcissist could possibly want. What's with you?

Well, here's the deal. Part of it is all the standard insecurities and worries and anxieties we've discussed ad nauseam (and yes, it's nauseam, not nauseum). But another part of it is a result of my own wiring.

Most of you know this, I think -- along with depression, I also have mild OCD. Some people hear that term and instantly think of compulsive hand-washing and checking lights and jiggling doorknobs over and over to make sure they're locked, but those aren't necessarily the manifestations. The evidence of my OCD is in my need for routine and predictability. For some, unexpected occurrences are exciting. For others, they are mildly annoying. For me, they can be panic-inducing.

I derive tremendous comfort from familiarity and daily routines. Each day has its own particular basic order, with some variation but not a whole lot. I know what I'm going to eat, when I'm going to the gym, when I'm doing certain chores, what I'm going to buy each week at the market. J and I talk on the phone at the same time every evening. On Fridays, I know I'm going to pack up my bag and go to his house, and when I get there, we'll go to dinner. You get the picture. For some, this type of life would be excruciating. For me, it's essential to my well being. One of the reasons why J gets me so completely is that he has a bit of this himself; he has his own rituals. For example, when we get up, we must make the bed before doing anything else. If I help him with laundry and I hang or fold things, he'll end up redoing what I've done because I didn't do it just so.

Of course, life is rarely predictable. The unexpected happens at any given moment. And if you have any sort of life at all, you sometimes have plans that disrupt your routines. I love love love the party weekends. But let's face it -- they take my normal Friday-Monday and throw them in a blender. Nothing is the same -- my schedule, my location, my food, my sleep, my amount of interactions with others, what I wear, blah blah blah. It's kind of like being catapulted into another life for a few days.

Bottom line -- even when it's for something fun, something I love with all my heart, it's still anxiety-inducing because it's different. Couple that with the other normal party anxieties, and it's a wonder that I have any kind of sanity left. Yes, folks, I am a loony toon.

So when these nerves hit, my mind works overtime and I start my horrible-izing about all the disasters that could keep us from getting there, or prevent us from having fun once we get there. There will be a terrible accident on the highway that will keep us stranded for hours and hours. One of us will get sick or hurt. There will be a family emergency. Actually, these things have happened. One year, we did get stuck in a SigAlert on the 15. Another time, J had a bad bike accident and shattered his collarbone one week before the party. I've gotten raging colds right before the party. And yet, we always made it.

How freaking STUPID is all this?? I'm laughing at myself as I sit here picking at the cuticle on my thumb. Look up "basket case" on Wikipedia and there's my picture.

So what do I do? I remind myself to breathe. I put one foot in front of the other, do what I need to do each day, check things off my list. I write about it and invite the blogosphere to laugh with me over how nucking futs I am. And I show up where I'm supposed to show up. The rest is out of my hands.

I'll shut up now. I haven't drawn a breath for the past five minutes and my fingertips are turning blue.


  1. Yikes! You'll be fine!

    Simply breathing in, saying silently to oneself "I am relaxed...," and then breathing out while silently continuing "...and at peace," a few times can help reduce anxiety to a surprising degree, at least temporarily. Stopping worry is a tricky thing to do; uncomplicated meditation and a sense of humor both go a long way, I believe, and you've already got the good humor covered.

  2. Hello my Erica i know what you mean by when you say that you are nervous, i am like that everyday of my life,try to be calm i know its hard. everything will be ok for you,but for me thats another story.wishing you and J a safe trip to the SL party.Love you big hugs from your naughty girl Jade xoxo

  3. Lorraine -- someone once suggested that when the negative thoughts bombard me, I counteract them by thinking, "Thank you for sharing. Now fuck off." :-)

    Jade -- thanks. I will do my best.

  4. It is not stupid to think as you do. There is no simple answer, but the shortest answer I can give is to think to keep things in perspective. You will get through things and continue forward. If there are problems, you will deal with them. Just keep moving foward (figuratively, ro literally, if you're walking.) In time, things will be calmer.

    If that doesn't work, deep breaths can help. Do them over and over again. In fact, more deep breathing on a regular basis is beneficial.

    If that still doesn't work, I would prescribe a spanking. I believe there can be physical benefits from that. I don't know if that will solve the problem, but you'll feel better.

  5. Sorry for the dyslexic moment back there. I didn't even catch it in my quick proofreading.

    If I only knew where I could find a good proofreader...

    Yes, I know it is spelled "or" (I even retyped it wrong again. I had to correct it when proofreading this.)

  6. hhmmmmm......

    since there is no way anticipate what will happen, and you have to go with the flow, roll with the punches then make a little "normal" time.

    if the hotel has a pool, jaccuzi, sauna....block out a specific time each day and use them....alone or with friends. you can try and schedule meals and stick to it.

    anyway i'm sure you'll have fun

    best of luck,


  7. Paul -- fortunately, I am a most excellent proofreader, so I was able to figure out that "ro" meant "or." :-) Thank you. As for the latter of your suggestions, I will be taking that prescription multiple times starting Friday.

  8. ddon -- my personal "normal" time is nap time. I will make sure to take one whenever necessary.

  9. I understand the comfort in routine. Part of me loves throwing my chances in the wind but only when they work out in my favor.

    Like today and why I am still sitting in North Carolina instead of landing in Vegas in an hour.


    Luckily I am able to fly out tomorrow morning and still be there for the fun. Grumpiness disappears with every time zone... right?

  10. Kat -- Oh dear. Well, I don't think you're missing a thing today. Lots of people arriving tomorrow, though!

  11. I am not even sending a hug, just a quiet moment where I say I know what you mean.
    I would much rather a self aware slightly bonkers person who has a sense of humour than a humourless, sane, clueless one.

    I will breathe with you for a moment and then watch with a little jealousy as you pootle your way into the party.

  12. I am a major fan of routines for everyday tasks, chores, etc. so I totally get your need for that too. You are aware of what stresses you out and you still manage to rise above it to make sure you get you spanking fun and other excitement in life. Good for you for knowing what you need and fighting against your occasional negative thoughts.

  13. Deep breaths. I'm in a state of high anxiety myself. I'm flying out of an airport in a different province (it was 1/2 the price), but I have anxiety driving so I am terrified about that.

    My obsessively checking the flight status today of the same flights I'll be on TOMORROW resulted in me discovering the first flight was 3 1/2 hours late and in fact the Vegas flight left before the first flight did (with pretty much zero alternative options). Now I'm paranoid that this will happen tomorrow (instead of thinking, thank goodness I wasn't travelling today, aren't I lucky!)

    I had a nightmare last night that my car got stolen (which did happen a year ago) and so I wasn't able to get to the airport!

    On the plus side, my Calgary to Vegas ticket was upgraded (for really cheap) to Executive Class so I'll be flying in style! That should be a positive omen.

    I currently have so many things I'm obsessing over that the actual party is the least of my concern. I'm sure I'll need a vacation by the time this is all over!

  14. Poppy -- thank you; I do need my quiet moments. How does one pootle, by the way?

    Kelly -- occasional, huh? You ARE kind. :-)

    Iggy -- we'll both make it, somehow! Hot damn, Executive Class!

  15. But in the end you'll be so giddy, jumping around from conversation to conversation on your tippie-toes like you do when you're excited, a big grin on your face and a warm glow on your bottom. That's the Erica I know from the parties...

  16. And that was Erica this past weekend, thank goodness. Well, except on Sunday night when I was utter toast. :-)