I live in a prison of my own design. At least, that’s what my therapist says. She’s right, though. My apartment is my prison. It’s small, only three rooms – but still an upgrade from the 400 sq ft studio we previously rented. My previous prison. You see, my prison moves with me. No matter how far away I move, my prison follows. The color of the walls may change, the shape of the room and the view changes, but I’m still a prisoner.
Sitting here typing this, I wonder how this happened. How did I come to be this way? It didn’t happen suddenly, or directly after trauma like other people I’ve read about. It kind of snuck up on me. This is what I said to my therapist recently. She thought it made sense – but I don’t. Why would my home become my prison when that was where the trauma of the past all happened? Maybe it’s a refuge from the world. I mean, my home has greatly improved from when the trauma of the past occurred. Not physically, but the occupants – the behavior inside the walls.
Despite the improvements, I don’t want to be a prisoner. I want to be able to go shopping alone, or walk my dog, or even drive to my doctors appointments. Driving was one of the very first things to go. I have barely driven at all for nearly four years. My husband and I are working on me driving again, but I’m scared. Scared to drive on busy roads. Scared to change lanes. Scared to merge. It’s a mess. I’m a mess.
My best friend quoted one of her friends (that I have not met) to me recently. Apparently the friend said, “I would rather die than live with this anxiety”. Her anxiety is so bad, and she has missed enough work, that she’s at risk of losing her job. I understand the sentiment. My anxiety keeps me from leaving the house alone. It keeps me from buying anything – whether online or in-store. It keeps me from making friends, or keeping the ones I do make. My anxiety keeps me alone, in prison. A prison of my own design.
I want out of this prison.
How do I tear down these walls I’ve built? How do I learn how to live again? With therapy I’ve started taking occasional short walks, alone. Going outside in the yard for a few minutes at a time. Even getting the mail. A year ago these things would have seemed impossible. Hard-fought changes are coming, gradually.
The question is, am I too scared to live? I don’t know how to live anymore.
Do any of you struggle with leaving the house? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.