(For the previous 17 days I have been wearing nothing but sunglasses. With the sunglasses eye contact and social situations were easier. Today I went back to normal glasses and this is that story.)
I just got back from Schunucks (a local grocery chain) and my heart is still beating fast. I am breathing fast and feel 100% drained of energy. I feel nothing short of abysmal. Did something bad happen? Well, depends on how you define bad.
Today is another day I am going without the sunglasses and I went to the grocery store to get my morning carrots and some soda. Because of the soda I was getting I needed a cart so I got one and instantly from the cart corral I felt different.
I had to pass three other shoppers to get my cart and I was looking down. One person said hello, but because I wasn't looking at them I don't know if this was directed at me. The onslaught of anxiety filled instances was just beginning.
From the corral I slowly walked to the carrots but I took another path because I wanted some Seneca Foods Apple Chips (my favorite snack! I have 7 bags stockpiled in my desk, but I'm not in the office today) but could not find any at this location. As I came to that conclusion a worker walked past the intersection and I made the mistake of making brief eye contact. He then said something, but my mind was analyzing the eye contact so I didn't hear him.
A second or two later I was still caught up thinking about what the man said that I did not see the other worker following behind the original one. I came within a few inches of pushing my cart right into him. He too said something, but by this point in time my mind was not receiving any external input. I was scared and had to much to process.
Quickly I got my soda, put into the cart, and walked with a brisk pace to the checkout. It was decision time. I normally use the self checkout, but the machines always yell at me to put the soda in the bag, and I had three 12 packs. Because of this I went with the traditional method of checkout.
As I wheeled the cart into the lane the worker lady was standing in the checkout aisle. She looked at me and instantly said, "You're going to have to go back!" What?! I froze. What did I do wrong? I looked at the checkout light and it was on so why was I being yelled at?
Every possible emotion related to fear was experienced. Tenths of a second seemed to go by at a pace a snail would find slow. Truly, I wanted to be anywhere but there. I didn't know what was going on or why I was in trouble, or if I was in trouble at all.
Because I was not looking at the person I only had the words and tone to go by. As a few seconds passed the lady who told me I was going to need to turn around asked another worker, "Hey, is it Pepsi or Dr. Pepper that has a buy 3 get 1 free coupon? Sir, if it is Pepsi you can turn around to get another."
I was confused. I heard the words but they didn't make sense. I was so scared and frightened that nothing was really being understood.
She finally got behind the counter and I, hesitantly, put the soda and carrots on the checkout counter. I did this slowly because I still was trying to think of what I had done wrong. My only thoughts as my knees went weak with anxiety was that I want to be home. The soda rolled down the conveyor belt slowly, and instead of just checking out and being done with it the lady asked the other worker what deals Pepsi had going on. The man looked through the coupons and found one. He gave it to the lady and she said, "Sir, you can go get a bag of Tostitos with this buy 3 get 1 bag of chips free coupon."
I was still dazed and I looked over my shoulder to see where the chips may be. "Aisle 2" I thought to myself, but that was a good 10 second walk. I was paralyzed with fear and did not want to walk. I think the man offered to go get them, but my only want and need was to leave that place of fear. I had to leave, needed to leave, and finally I was able to.
What can be learned from this? I feel all this was triggered by the initial eye contact issues at the cart corral. If there is a stumbling block in any social situation I do the events following that are always harder. I then go into a subconscious state processing and if something happens in this phase the hole gets deeper. By the time I got to the checkout counter I was frazzled. I think if I could have looked at her face when she said that, "I would have to go back" I may have realized it wasn't an actual crisis as I took it.
What I have learned from this is I can't wait to be behind the sunglasses again. The event today that I described as always happened to me, but I don't think with that many events in such a short time span. Can the sunglasses perhaps minimize these? I think so, and again, I can't wait to go back!