It’s Impossible to Hide In Your House When You’ve Got Friends

You Gotta Have Friends LIGHTERFriends manage to talk you into doing things, going places, and tasting life outside your comfort zone.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it againFriends can help your agoraphobia get better.  Not the ones who shake their head and tell you you’re being dramatic, just get out of the house.  Not the ones who laugh and say, “You’re a agor…ah…a WTF?”  Not the ones who try to talk you out of the house, or guilt you into stepping outside.  Those people you will eventually learn are not your friends; they’re simply people that you know.

The friends that I’m talking about are those that love you for who you are.  And if that means you don’t get out much (for whatever reason) well, that’s okay, and they’ll sit in the house with you and be perfectly fine with it.  At my most phobic, when I was terrified of so many things, a rather large space station called “Skylab” (yes, a whole space station!) was poised to re-enter our atmosphere and come crashing back to earth.

I was certain it would fall on my head.

Actually, fall directly on my head.  Nobody else would be injured, I was sure, except for me.  And boy, that did nothing to get me to budge from my couch.  The logic escaped me that perhaps if I left the house and moved around a lot, that maybe I could avoid this 169,000 pound massive missile from the skies.  No, my idea of saving myself was to become a sitting duck on my sofa in West Hollywood.

The truth was I was just too terrified to move.

So what did my friends do?  We had a party to celebrate Skylab’s return.  Well, actually, I threw the party because I was the only one with a blender at the time and we were having frozen daiquiris.  But the point is:  my friends came to keep me company.  There I was sitting on my couch, so terrified that Skylab had my name on it, and my friends came over to join me on that couch.  In my mind, they were risking their lives just to be there with me.

And that’s not all.

They showed up – all of my friends – wearing construction hard hats, an Army helmet, and my dear friend John even put a large bullseye and a magnet on top of his baseball hat just to defy fate.  Or maybe to save me from a direct hit.  I was so busy laughing and enjoying our “impromptu” party that I completely forgot about Skylab.  All that dread and terror my imagination had been feasting on simply was forgotten that evening.

My friends got me through the night.

Thanks to my friends (and 9 other things that helped me go from agoraphobic to recovering agoraphobic) I now get out of my house.  I still need help with driving – I don’t do freeways.  So if there are freeways involved, my hubbie is the one behind the wheel.  And that’s how I will be getting to Ventura this Saturday for a book signing and personal appearance at Bank of Books at 748 E. Main Street. It’s an hour away from my house so I’m calling it a road trip.  Yes I’m a little bit nervous – it’s definitely out of my comfort zone.  But I’m certain I can do it.

My friend Wayne talked me into it and he’ll be there.

And thankfully, no space stations are scheduled to fall this weekend.

(If you live in or around Ventura, please come by and keep me company.  It always helps to be around friends.  Not sure I can bring any frozen daiquiris…Will cookies do?)

NEW AAGTH Cover_ebook

35 thoughts on “It’s Impossible to Hide In Your House When You’ve Got Friends

  1. Hi Darlene…that was awesome. I was afraid of the “Jupiter Effect” and so much more. LOL. I do not do freeways either…especially not in Southern California. Here in Montana there is no traffic, but there is also no one watching if your car breaks down, etc. I “get” you. ;o). Have a wonderful time in Ventura. Wish I was there…

      • I believe it! I’m actually coming to Los Angeles on June 27th and driving with my sister (since I do not drive freeways) to Santa Maria and northward. Any chance of meeting for lunch?

      • Oooh, that’s tempting. We’re going to be starting what I fondly call “wedding week” that weekend, and the 28th is my birthday so I don’t know what my husband has planned for me. Let’s talk as we get closer to that date.

  2. Looking forward to your appearance. While Mary was taking care of my mother she discovered that there is a way to get from Santa Barbara to Ventura without using the freeway. It’s windey/curvey and takes a lot longer and it can be done but I’ll bet your chauffeur would opt for the freeway. After you’re finished the first one’s on me.

      • It comes from the borax mining in Death Valley. If a mule team broke down they handed off their set of bells to the next team that crossed their path thus alerting the bosses that they needed help. A successful trip was indicated when a team arrived at their destination “with bells on.” See you Saturday with bells on!

  3. congrats on the book signing!! if you could make it to all those softball tournaments, you’ll make it to Ventura!!!

  4. I always thought that if I stood in the same place long enough, based on the law of averages, a huge bag of money would eventually fall from the sky and land on my head. Guess that’s why I never bothered buying a lottery ticket. Standing in one place so long does make me a bit antsy.

  5. I totally agree with you but what if you don’t have friends BECAUSE you are phobic (social phobia)? Being in such a position I have a plethora of things to keep me busy. It doesn’t achieve the same result but at least it keeps me from driving myself totally nuts (which, I agree would be a short trip ).

    It’s a delicate and difficult job finding out what works for yourself. The solution doesn’t have to be perfect. I think we spend much too much time looking for that elusive perfection anyway. Didn’t someone once say there is no such thing as perfection? I actually don’t have the time to be running around fields with a net searching for perfection. Most of the time I’m okay with ‘ordinary’……….whatever it takews to get through the day.

    Kudos on the book signing! It’s great to get the word out about agoraphobia. I’m still amazed by the number of people who don’t have a clue what it is…….but as stated, I don’t get to meet that many people. Hell – it great that you can even get there and do it. Good luck! Hope you have a sell-out.

    • I understand the difficulties of social phobia, and yes, unfortunately it can also be present along with agoraphobia. That makes it 1000 times more difficult because without having people out there in the world to connect with, why leave the house at all? Nowadays, it’s just so easy to stay home: You can have groceries delivered; you can shop for just about all of your material needs online – clothing, eyeglasses, shoes, books, medications, etc. etc. The 21st century makes it so easy to go through life as an agoraphobic. So why sweat it? Why even try to go beyond our own front doors? Figure out the answer to those two questions and you’ll find a way to move past your agoraphobia. There are very different and unique answers for every person – every agoraphobic is special and unique, and each of us have our reasons for wanting to get back into the world. Or maybe we don’t. Maybe some of us are perfectly content to be shut away, and to stay within our own sphere. If we are content, then why care about it? The truth is that people, by nature, are pack animals. We are not content in feeling so isolated that we are not part of some kind of community. This is why humans evolved to create cultures. So the dilemma here is twofold: 1) We need to admit to ourselves that we miss connecting with people, and that we need to feel a part of some kind of community – no matter how small, or how specific, 2) We need to find a way to connect with people. That last point is made more difficult when we have social phobias. It means we have to try harder than most people to find a way to reach out for connection, and it also means we need help. Admitting we need help is terrifying. I’ve been there. But I have to admit that it was only after I admitted to myself that I wasn’t ever going to get out of my house unless I sought help that I started on a road of recovery. For me, that road led to counseling, and counseling meant leaving my house. Literally. I had to travel forty-five minutes through Los Angeles traffic in a taxi. I white knuckled it every time I had to take this trip. And in the beginning it was twice a week. I literally thought I was going to die. But I didn’t die. And every time I took that trip, I got stronger, and I started to find a way – my way – of functioning again, slowly, in the world. In many ways, that was an important first step – literally, away from my house. But everyone is unique and different and I would never dictate to any agoraphobic that there is only one way to get better. What I will say, and I believe this with all my heart, is that the more we can talk about this insidious sickness – with other people who are going through it, or who have gone through it, the less isolated we will feel as human beings. And losing that sense of isolation is crucial in our recovery.

      Thanks so much for your comment, and for wishing me luck at the book signing. I always look forward to talking to you, Deana. I appreciate the connection – it’s why I blog. It’s why I write.

      • I can’t express enough how much I appreciate your taking the time for the lengthy response. I’ll write back tomorrow.

      • Your words are all true. Having been phobic for 50 some odd years I understand this. Sometimes though, life throws you curves and there is no way around them. I don’t enjoy being stuck in the house (ok – well maybe sometimes :-), but without transportation, no money for taxis and a back that is so painful it won’t allow mw to walk to a bus, getting out anywhere is just about impossible. I have always pushed myswelf to my limits and beyond but that doesn’t always work.

        Still, I’m luckier than many phobics in that I have enough things to keep me busy so that I can deal with the crap in my life.

      • Yep, I understand what you’re saying about getting those curves being thrown at you. It gets exhausting sometimes having to deal with those. And when you add physical pain on top of the phobias, it just gets overwhelming. It takes a great amount of courage, and hopefully (if you can manage it) a survivor’s sense of humor. We do what we can to just keep going. There are times when we might not get very far, when treading water is the only thing we can manage. And that’s okay too. The best thing an agoraphobic can do (that all human beings can do) is to be kind to themselves. Whether heading out into the world, or just treading water and waiting for life to calm down. Give yourself whatever you need: comfort and love, patience, and acceptance. If you can just get through the day, that will bring you another day. And with the promise of another day also comes the possibility for getting better.

  6. I remember those great theme party’s in your house back in the day. Besides helping you, they were my whole social life when I was going through a rough patch in time also. So thank you for being a friend when I needed it also. Love you…….Cookie

  7. Loved the party you described and was delighted to know that I am not the only one who has a fleeting vision of hiding in the broom cupboard when I hear that a comet, or space debris is hurtling earthwards.

    • We are kindred spirits, Yasseen. And I wager that we aren’t the only ones who are uncomfortable at the thought of tons of metal hurtling down from space. I highly recommend a party, however, over hiding in a broom cupboard. It’s more fun.

      • Hey, great good luck with your book signing tomorrow! May there be long queues waiting for you at Ventura. Sorry I can’t be there. Too far away.

  8. A belated congrats on the signing!! I’m actually afraid of traveling to the West Coast because I’m terrified of earthquakes. But, should that ever change, I’ll bring both cake AND cookies!!! 🙂

    • I’m sorry you’re afraid of earthquakes. I was born and raised here so I don’t think about them much. Until we have one. And then, as long as I’m not in a high rise, I just hunker down and know that the shaking will eventually end. I’m more nervous about attending events like book signings – even with cake AND cookies.

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