Copyright is held by the author.
SETTLING INTO my seat at the theatre, I noticed the middle-aged man to my left was sprawled in his seat, with his crossed leg invading my space, and his right arm hogging the armrest. “You’re sitting in seat 11,” he said.
With a tight smile, which I hoped conveyed my annoyance, I replied, “Yes, I know.”
He did not move, except to accidentally kick my purse. No apology. Clueless man. At my husband’s suggestion, I moved the kicked purse to my other side.
I was hoping that woman would not sit in seat 11. I wanted a vacant seat next to me. My wife tried to get an aisle seat for me, to no avail. Now I’m getting antsy. Luckily, the performance is just a little over an hour.
Claustrophobia, I thought I was done with you. Now this irrational fear is back again. Almost 10 years with no issues.
Six months ago, my older brother killed himself. He used the shotgun our dad had given him for his 16th birthday. Ironic. My brother had the last word, so to speak. He had often been beaten by our dad, and then locked in a closet. I would run out of the house in horror, often throwing up in our yard. It did not help, and probably made it worse that I was the favoured son. Just thinking of my brother in the small, dark closet . . .
Now, the anxiety was creeping back into my everyday life.
Closets had always been a problem for me. Years ago, in our first home, I convinced my wife to have sliding closet doors. Slowly, I started to notice a vague feeling of anxiety in other situations. When I was put in an exam room at the doctor’s office, and the assistant closed the door, I started to perspire profusely. I opened the door a bit and felt such relief. Once at our guys’ monthly poker night, I started having heart palpitations and shortness of breath. The walls were closing in on me. I excused myself to get “some air.” Walking out of my buddy’s man cave, I knew something had to change. The man cave — I had played poker and watched football games in that room too many times to count.
So began my sessions with Dr. Hogan, a psychiatrist who had been recommended by my wife’s good friend. I was reluctant, but open to getting help. By the end of the first session, I had poured out my childhood to him. To my dismay, I was sobbing. He prescribed something to help deal with my anxiety, and suggested regular visits. We met once a week for almost a year. It was a mutual decision to taper off and then discontinue therapy. I had navigated my childhood with Dr. Hogan, met my fears head on, and with his help realized the guilt I harboured for being spared my father’s abuse. Dr. Hogan “left the door open” for me to contact him if I ran into difficulty.
The theatre lights are dimming, the play begins, and I do not know if I can stay here.