Anxiety Storm

| Feb 20, 2017
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Tonight was a rough night. It was bad enough that it made me break into a hard cry. Work is definitely an anxiety trigger for me. I realize this. My retail job puts me right in the middle of hordes of people. That is very hard on a person who fights anxiety. Today it was like hell with the lid off for the first half. I looked down the main aisle at one point and I had to look away. It was just overwhelming. There were just people everywhere. I had to pretend they weren’t there. 

I was feeling okay until about 9:30 p.m. on this 4 to 12 shift. I was doing my usual fixing up of the market shelves. I talked to a lady that needed help and we got onto the subject of me living here in California. I said “It’s very beautiful, the weather is perfect for me with the zero humidity and sun. But. . .” I continued, “The people and the distance from any family or familiarity is a problem.” 

She said I should try to just keep going and make it a better year. As I went back to my work, I thought about what she said and I started to get sad. I started to think about everything . . . I started to cascade. The bad thoughts washed over me and I could feel the fear and sadness climbing up my back like an insidious, black ivy. I started to take shorter, more anxious breaths. My eyes started to glisten with tears. I felt an involuntary response gripping my body that needed to be released. 

I started my walk back to the restroom, my work sanctuary. It’s the only place I can go to get away from the eyes and the questions of people. I enter the one person restroom that is located in the back room. I closed the door and for a moment, I pause, thinking maybe it won’t come, the tears. But then, the skies darken, and the storm begins. 

I usually crouch down at the sink because I can’t stand anymore when the storm of tears hits. So many things pop into my head during the storm. The quiet, muffled sobs get stronger as I start to feel extreme sadness and fear. “I can’t do this.” I usually say as the sobs get angrier and darker cutting right into my heart. I feel eternally lonely and so far away from love or care. I feel lost, infinitesimal in the universe as I curl myself into a tense, crouching ball.

As the feelings flood into my brain, I clutch my chest and my hands turn to balled fists. I feel my transition necklace on my skin and feel a tiny comfort as I weather the storm. I know it’s doing me good to let it out, but it hurts and it makes me sink into very dark depths of despair. These depths were previously unknown to me before I moved here. The sadness, loneliness and fear cut through me like 3 guillotines, chopping me to bits. It was a long, rough storm tonight. Of course, it was the night I decided to put on eyeliner for a change. In time, as all storms do, it started to pass. For the moment . . . it had passed. It had been a while since the last one. I guess it was time. 

I had just written about 5 or 6 paragraphs on my phone continuing this article. My phone decided that it did not want to save those paragraphs. I nearly smashed my phone into a million Samsung bits. It would have looked like the cover of The Clash album, London Calling, me smashing the shit out of my phone on the concrete floor of the parking lot. I am sick of this phone, but I thought the better of it. New phones cost money.  

The gist of those paragraphs was that I still feel like a stranger in a strange land, even some 2 years and 3 months later. The beauty is just incredible. The weather is nearly exactly to my liking, no humidity, blue skies and sun for 2/3 of the year or more, never really drops below 45 or 50 at the lowest. But, there’s just something missing for me. It feels hollow . . . empty. I just can’t help feeling like I’m just not in the right place. 

I was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. That will always be my hometown until I die. When one is from Pittsburgh, there is a deep intimate love that is associated with it. My Mom doesn’t agree. She loves Florida. But, now that I’ve left it after 41 years, would I like it if I moved back? Have I seen too much? I’ve traveled to so many places since then. I thought the Bay Area would fit me like a glove. It doesn’t. It was a pipe dream. The thought of living here was much better than the actual place. I am not rich enough, liberal enough, foreigner-friendly enough, tech enough, callous enough or workaholic enough. I’m like Rudolph in the Land of Misfit Toys. Why can’t I fit in?

Getting back to tonight, it was a pretty typical of a day of the struggle here. I tried to calm down on my last break after “The Storm,” but the Hispanic contingent had taken over the break-room, blasting some cheesy telenovela or whatever it is. I went to the cafe out front and another Hispanic guy was blasting mariachi music from his phone. Ugh, there’s no escape. I just wanted to decompress in a quiet place. It didn’t happen. Earlier in the evening, the restroom was occupied, so I went into the dairy cooler and just stood in the alcoves of the milk crates. It was almost peaceful. I just wanted to wedge myself deeper and deeper into those alcoves. 

I’m home now. It’s 3:08 a.m. I got off work at 12 a.m. Of course I wasted probably 35 to 40 minutes typing those paragraphs I lost. My phone survived though. I still really want to go London Calling on it. I think it would feel good to smash it to bits. My ex-wife used to break stuff. She said it made her feel better. I understand her more and more each day and year that goes by in my womanhood. I miss her, but apparently, she doesn’t miss me. I’m still blocked on Facebook. 

I guess it’s time to call it a day. It wasn’t the best. Writing about it helps though. I’m feeling calm and anxiety free right now. Usually, this time is my most calm. At least I’ve got my nights. Tomorrow, it starts all over, and barring a miracle, the anxiety will rise. Hopefully no more storms come. Hopefully there will be calm after the storm. Medication helps, but it just covers up the real problem. I really, truly, believe that being here is the problem. 

I think I have come to a decision. I will wait to see if I can get a GRS surgery date from Dr. Marcie Bowers here in the Bay Area. I failed to do so with MediCal in 2015. I’m going to try again with my work insurance. If that falls through again, I will be leaving this place. What’s the point of staying? You heard it here first folks! This California Experiment will end. It’s killing me softly . . . maybe not so softly. Stay tuned.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

I am a transwoman originally from Pittsburgh, PA. I have been living full time for 5 years. I work in retail but am an artist/Graphic Designer and aspiring writer. I tend to address the controversial in my writing. I would love to change the world one article at a time. I moved to The San Francisco Bay Area to start over, again. But recently moved back to the East Coast. The adventure continues...

Comments (2)

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  1. Sophie Lynne Sophie Lynne says:

    Huggses Amanda! <3

  2. Ellen1 Ellen1 says:

    A beautiful story Amanda. I understand your angst at the world. Unfortunately for me I still have to work as a male to earn a living. I hope to retire in 3-4 years and then complete my journey.
    I am 66yo and will only get to live my desired life for a few years, after having to put it off for almost a lifetime. You are very fortunate that you still have a long life ahead. Embrace the fact that you are so much better off than so many others. Keep your chin up and be proud of who you are.

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