Don’t say “I told you so”

I knew the town would be packed out yesterday. People thinking “ooh, must go shopping” and trying to avoid Saturday. We needed some bits and pieces, and although Mr D said, “I’ll go by myself if you want” I decided to go with him, because hell – you never know what you might need in M&S’s food hall…
We got there fairly early, and the town itself was busy but I could deal with it. As we walked from the car park, I made a note of saying to Mr D “look after me” which is my code for saying ‘I don’t know if I’ll manage very well, and I need to know you’re really switched on to my anxiety’. I know he already is, I guess it’s just my way of being Absolutely Sure. We made our way along the high street, chatting about rubbish, and I was fine.
In M&S, the food hall is at the back of the store. It was busy when we went in, but still do-able. My focus was on getting a small trolley – it makes me feel safer somehow, and I don’t go supermarket shopping without one. As we went further into the food hall, my focus became fuzzier – what did I want? Where was it? Things that I thought I knew started to get lost in a fog of “OHMYGOD where the FUCK did all these PEOPLE come from???” It was half past nine, and the queues for the checkout traversed up the aisles towards the back of the store. And people WEREN’T MOVING FOR ANYTHING. We needed breadbuns, which meant a marathon fight through five rows of people like that. Yelling “EXCUSE ME PLEASE!” fell on deaf ears. The anxiety grew. I turned to Mr D. “Sod this,” I said, “just dump the trolley and let’s get out of here.”
Mr D insisted on taking the trolley back to the proper place, which (in my mind) seemed to take even longer. “I need to get out, please – just leave it there” I begged, as he stood waiting for people to move so he could put the trolley back in the line with the other ones. The world was swirling. “I NEED TO GET OUT! bollocks – I’ll meet you outside.”
The journey to the front of the store is a bit of a blur. I remember people walking towards me – so many people – please just MOVE. At the doors now. Two sets, and in my panic I try to get out of the one that’s locked. I hit it with my fist, retreat and try again. Suddenly, cold air. I hit some railings, and sit down, head in hands, foetal. The panic washes over me, and I feel sick. I can’t breathe – my chest hurts. Now Mr D is here, talking to me, telling me it’s okay.
I sit like that for a while, until my breathing starts returning to normal. I feel numb, aware only of his voice – and the fact that my backside is cold from sitting on the icy concrete. I get up and my legs feel like jelly. I’ve been crying, and my glasses are fogged up. My chest still hurts, and I feel utterly spent.
This morning (Saturday), Mr D has gone back to M&S for opening time. And this time, he’s gone by himself.

4 thoughts on “Don’t say “I told you so”

  1. Mary says:

    Sending Mr D on his own sounds like a good idea. After all, goal-setting should involve things that will stretch you, but still be within the “achievable” range – if it takes it out of you to climb the stairs then it is not yet time to climb Mt Everest, if you get what I mean. Well done for having the confidence to be prepared to make the attempt though. That’s one achievement in itself.
    Plus, I said it before and I’ll say it again, shopping or attempting to shop in the few days before Christmas leaves most people frazzled to say the least. It’s once a year that the shops are this utterly manic and at that sort of frequency, it counts as Exceptional Circumstances.

  2. dominocat says:

    Thanks, hon.. I’m cross with myself – but only because I pushed myself too far, not because I panicked, and I’m counting that as a success (in a round about way!) My ‘therapy’ has always been to push myself just outside my comfort zone – this episode was pushing me waaay beyond it… I guess it proves once and for all that I need to do this in baby steps.

  3. Gina says:

    I don’t think you should be too hard on yourself, I think you did the right thing by going, and I think you’ll do the right thing again in those circumstances in the future.
    I think you can count it as a success and as you say yourself learn from it, plus it’s always a comparison now isn’t it?

  4. Roxy says:

    I agree with Gina. You felt you could do it even though it turned out to be too much for you, you know now how far to push yourself. As has been mentioned by Mary Christmas shopping is hellish for people who don’t suffer panic attacks so the fact that you went is a good thing

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