Immersion Therapy: (HWY) 101

Anyone who is a little bit broken can tell you that phobias have a way of bolstering themselves. Something scary crops up in your day and rather than confronting whatever it is, you kick up your feet like a frightened cottontail and bolt for the nearest briar patch. Once there, your jerkface brain REWARDS you with a big ole dose of feel-better fuzzies for having run away. Trigger. Run. Reward. Trigger. Run. Reward. Over and over until you’ve programmed yourself to feel that flight is always the better option, even when every rational ounce of you knows that it isn’t.

Take travel, for instance. Most wouldn’t consider travel as something to fear, but I’ve hippity-hopped from it nonetheless. Every year we plan a vacation – and every year I find a lame, totally invented, perfectly valid reason why we shouldn’t take it. 

 “Gosh, winter’s a terrible time for travel, isn’t it? Can’t we wait until summer?”

“But look at all these baby chicks I just brought home! You don’t want to leave them here alone, do you? Of course you don’t – because they would die and you’re not a heartless monster.”

“Vacationing in the heat of the summer, are you mad?”

My husband is either sweet enough or fond enough of chickens that these (not to belabor the point) perfectly valid reasons sway him more often than not, and our idea of venturing into the world at large is tabled for another year.

Reward.

Only… every rational ounce of me knows that it isn’t.

It’s gone on long enough that the excuses are no longer necessary. We still go through the motions, but we both know that the AvPD itinerary of NEVER GOING ANYWHERE EVER is going to win out in the end. And the longer this continues, the harder it is to fight. 

Year by year, my world shrinks. From a town… to a house… to a handful of rooms in which I feel safe. This poses a problem. You know, beyond the miserable isolation part. I couldn’t stop writing if I tried and, as you’ve probably heard it said, you can’t write about a world you’ve never experienced. 

Long story short…

I’m writing this from a hotel room on the coast. 

It’s been a hard few days on the road (Highway 101, to be specific) but my darling husband and his ever-faithful GSD are here too, having both given more than their fair share of emotional support through panic attacks, motion sickness, and at least one attempt (not intentional) to get us so thoroughly lost that we couldn’t continue. We’ve argued and I’ve hyperventilated. We’ve been sunburned, waylaid, and invaded by ants after an unlucky roadside bathroom break. 

We’ve also found sea glass and played cat and mouse with the waves. 

The world is full of experiences, it turns out. Some of them change you for the better, make you stronger. Some of them send you crabwalking away from an anthill mid-stream, swatting at your extremities like they’re on fire WHICH OF COURSE THEY ARE BECAUSE THEY’RE BEING BITTEN BY A BILLION ANTS. 

But you know what? 

It gave me something to write about, didn’t it? 

And I’m hoping that this will widen the boundaries of my briar patch. A little more hopeful than I was yesterday, in fact. Probably more an indication of delirium than of mental and emotional growth, huh?

Maybe it’s all this salty sea air.

Fortune Reads: Time heals all wounds. Keep your chin up.