To say that I have only the barest grip on my emotions is kind of an understatement. Most days I keep my life plugging along by sheer force of will, my sanity held together by the slimmest of threads and a little duct tape.
As much as I love the holidays, the season that should be al bright and jolly is often when the duct tape starts to peel and the thread gets stetched to its limit. There is more pressure at my office this time of year (I won’t bore you with the blah-blah-blah work stuff) and there is always the internal pressure I feel to make the holidays this beautiful, magical experience.
Now, when you have an anxiety disorder it doesn’t take an earthquake to upset your apple cart. Last year, it was a beloved Christmas ornament smashed into a million pieces.
After spending the weekend decorating the house with my husband, finding a creative way to use leftover turkey, conquering a mountain of laundry, doing some office duties from home and terrorizing my cat with an ugly Christmas sweater, an afternoon of fun was in order.
So my husband and I, after braving the chaos that was the holiday decoration aisles at Lowes, headed for the movies today. We wanted to see “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” a psychological thriller that I’d heard good things about, at our favorite old theater here in Small City.
We got our usual bag of popcorn and a ginormous Diet Coke, and headed up the flight of stairs to our theater. The popcorn was filled above capacity, and I held on to the bag with a death grip as I dragged my gimpy knee up each step. We entered the small theater, and my husband chose to go up one more flight in the darkened room for the best seats.
I made it to the second step before I stumbled and spilled half the bag all over the floor.
Aaaaaaand that’s when the panic attack set in.
Now, in reality, who gives a shit about half a bag of popcorn, really? Not me. Certainly not my husband.
But, just like that shattered ornament, that bag of overflowing movie popcorn felt like a metaphor for all the things I can barely hold onto in my life. It was filled beyond it’s limit, and I was too clumsy to keep it from falling apart.
That’s what haunts me. That’s what causes the shortness of breath, the urge to run and hide, the negative thoughts that all collide into a panic attack — the overwhelming feeling of failure because I can’t make it all work out.
I am my own worst enemy, but my husband is greatest fan. He sat with me in the lobby until I calmed down, telling me that we could do whatever I wanted: go home, go back inside, pick another movie, whatever. He gave me the space to breathe and let me talk myself down from the agitation.
We finally went to the movie, my heart still racing and my hands still numb, and I hoped the film would take my mind off what happened.
DAMN!!! DO NOT see this movie if you feel anxious. Sweet Baby Jeebus, that movie is FUCKING INTENSE. And, it has a “Sopranos”-like ending that made half the theater go, “DO WHAT???” No shit. Great film, but not relaxing.
Moral of the story: Popcorn should not be a metaphor for your life, you gotta let the panic run it’s course, and “Martha Marcy May Marlene”, while a fine piece of filmmaking, is NOT a feel-good flick.