I sat alone in the Costco Food Court and stuffed down a hot dog with a Diet Coke chaser. As I stared blankly at the abyss of people and cars, I heard a familiar voice and looked up at my dear friend, her face shadowed with concern. She looked at me as if I sat at a bar with fifteen empty shot glasses in front of me.
You see, this friend found my situation unusual. She knew that I did not eat hot dogs or drink Diet coke, nor did I get out much alone; I usually had my boys in tow.
On this December day, I left my family at home to shop for Christmas groceries. As I drove to Costco, I noticed my shaking hands and I felt a gritty feeling in my gut. Even though I was out alone (a rare treat in those days), instead of peace, I felt consumed by anxiety and depleted; up to my ears in holiday merrymaking and people pleasing.
My sweet friend asked me if I was doing okay. I lied and said I was fine, just taking some time for myself (doesn’t everyone choose the Costco Food Court for “me time”?)
Oh, how I wish I would have opened up to my girlfriend that day. She would have listened to my tale. She would have told me to stop and take time for self-care. She would have hugged me and encouraged me to rest.
My date with a hot dog and Diet Coke was a way to self-sooth and abate stress. I did not see that my choice that day was a red flag revealing how unattuned I was to my mental state. The shaky hands and uneasy stomach were also signs I should have paid attention to.Continue Reading