Are you feeling good?
I am feeling good because I did a good thing today. Which is good, because before the good thing, I was feeling very ungood about myself.
It began this morning as I sat in a room with Gwyneth and our couples therapist and was once again reminded of my mentalness which continues to get in the way of everything I really want.
After the session I decided to attend to my emotional needs in the best way I know how, which is to EAT MY FEELINGS. On arrival at my coffee shop of choice, I first had to attend to a more pressing need. The toilet door was locked. So I waited. I tried the door again. I waited. There were no sounds of life. I approached the counter:
Me: I’m sure I’m being daft, but could the toilet door be locked from the outside somehow?
V cool, young barista: Yeah, it is. You need a code.
Me: Ah! Right! (Gawping at her expectantly)
Barista: You a customer?
Me: Well, I will be once I’ve been to the loo…
Back at the toilet door, there are no visible numbers on the keypad thingy. Now my face is hot and my hands are sweaty. Why even is there a code? I am a tormented person who is already having a tormented morning where I have been repeatedly reminded of my torments whilst paying someone a good deal of money to repeatedly remind me of my torments and all I want to do now is pee yet even this is riddled with torment and anxiety because I live in a shitty suburb where the toilets in cafs have to be kept locked so people don’t shoot-up drugs in there leaving those of us who just need to pee in a state of near-collapse over a keypad.
It occurs to me that there are only five vertical buttons. Perhaps they are 1-5, top to bottom?
But once inside the cubicle it is unclear how to lock the door. The distance from the loo to the door is too great for me to hold it. I yank everything that looks like a lock. I set off the hand-dryer. I am now as hot as a menopausal woman, which I also am.
Wait! The extreme noise of the hand-dryer will surely alert any potential user that the cubicle is occupied!
Relief. Until the hand-dryer stops just as I reach peak-flow. It is too far away for me to re-start it. I glance to my right where a full-length mirror is thoughtfully placed, so that I can enjoy the self-esteem-boosting image of myself on the loo, an image which will be shared with my fellow patrons any second now when someone bursts in…
The enormous pastry and accompanying cortado give me indigestion. I have half an hour to kill before my next anxiety-related appointment, so I stagger into a lovely shop and buy something lovely for my lovely friend who is poorly and has far more reason for torment than I.
With plenty of time to spare, I arrive at my GP’s practice feeling ready for this next appointment where I will be discussing the anxiety levels of my youngest child.
Receptionist: Your appointment was half an hour ago.
Me: What? No! No it definitely wasn’t. I wrote it down – here –
My appointment was half an hour ago. I have waited a month for this appointment. Inexplicably I begin to weep. Even more inexplicably, this doctor’s receptionist is completely LOVELY and KIND and before I know it she’s sorted everything and I am sitting opposite a doctor.
I explain everything about youngest to the doctor in a calm and coherent manner, which is to say I become tearful, shaky and make a series of entirely non-sensical statements.
Him: Ok, so the problem with anxiety is that it can be catching, so your son will be picking up on your anxiety. The best thing you can do is to stay calm.
Me: Oh fucking BRILLIANT. Thank you SO much for that doc. You know what, telling an anxious mother, who battles everyday with her anxiety and whose biggest anxiety is that her anxiety is affecting her kids, telling her that her anxiety IS ACTUALLY AFFECTING HER KIDS is likely to make her feel a teeny bit the OPPOSITE of CALM.
What I actually say is: I know.
The more I speak, the more anxious he looks, thus proving his theory that anxiety is infectious. Clever doc. Clever dick. But then he says, and it is so lovely of him to say it, that my boy sounds like a fine young fella, with a family who obviously care about him very much. He says they can help.
Relieved, I walk with a new purpose back to the car where I open the bag with the gift I bought earlier and there, nestled at the bottom of the bag, is a twenty pound note. A twenty pound note that most definitely isn’t mine.
What is this? I ask myself. This is what they call a windfall, I reply. Oooh, like the universe is paying me back for my morning of torment? I ask. Exactly, I reply, it is a gift from the God of Too Much Torment. So I deserve this? I ask. Oh you do, I reply, plus you need to buy wine immediately.
But it isn’t my money. And both my selves know this. Should I go back to the shop?
I wonder if I’ve been secretly filmed as part of a moral experiment for Panorama which must happen all the time. I will finally be famous, but only for being an amoral arsehole. I head back to the shop.
En route I consider all that I could buy with that twenty. Maybe that brooch there in that shop window? Oooh, a bit of take-away lunch? But I know the brooch would pierce my treacherous skin, the lunch would poison my greedy guts.
I give it back. Happily…
The shop-owner tells me that I am absolutely, definitely an extremely decent and GOOD person. My return of this money makes him smile and feel good, which in turn makes me smile and feel good.
As I walk back to the car I think: anxiety may be catching, but so is goodness. And I’ve caught a heavy dose of it today with the receptionist and the doctor and even at counselling where Gwyneth never fails to make me laugh at some point and where our hug on the street afterwards is becoming a treat I look forward to every week.
I do hope you catch a bit of goodness today…