Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Solo at the Grocery Store.

I just returned home from a solo trip to the grocery store.

I have an anxiety disorder, so this is a stressful proposition for me, but I've learned that if I just do it and take it slow it's worth it, so I fought off the anxiety sans medicine and I went. I even remembered the environmentally friendly canvas bags.

Because of the pain I've been experiencing in my back, today was a really hard day. I am pretty certain I only made it to the store because I had a back massage from my husband, a mug of green tea, and a bath before I ventured out. These are all things I highly recommend when it comes to holistic medicine - but this is all beside the point.

When I arrived, there was the whole - where in the world should I park, debate.

I am one of those people who always parks in the same general location. I have a lot of fears about not being able to find my car and wandering around the parking lot aimlessly for hours with everyone staring at me. I understand that this is somewhat paranoid, but it's how it is with me, and I know this, so I've found ways to cope. In this same way I order the same things from the menu at certain restaurants, etc. I parked in the general vicinity of my favorite spots, on the side of the store - which is an unpopular but relatively close location, and also close to the cart stall so that I would be able to return my cart with ease and know exactly where it should go. If you think that this is foolishness, you probably don't have any issues with anxiety - and this is a positive thing.

I decided when I got into the store that I was going to make this a positive experience no matter what and that I was going to try and savor the experience instead of freaking out about it.

I started with going to get something for myself, because it would be a decision I could make and feel good about, and that could empower me to keep on keeping on without losing my mind.

There were tons of staff persons in the store today - putting back tons of return items. It was sort of sad to see those carts full of returns being restocked: gifts no one wanted. What a shame. I hope the people who returned them got something nice with the money back.

I avoided them pretty expertly as I maneuvered my cart through the narrow aisles.

My purchase for myself was body wash. This is a simple thing, but we are extremely low on cash at all times, so I consider this a luxury item. After some debate, I chose the store brand of the ultra moisturizing body wash stuff and then moved on.

I stopped off at the magazine section and picked up a holistic health magazine to see if they had any ideas about naturalistic and cheap pain management - not normally things that go together, but a girl can dream, right? - and kept moving on.

I wasn't sure I could face the grocery section yet, so I went back to the arts and crafts, remembering that we still owed our daughter a few things for Christmas. I picked up some bathtub crayons and some big washable regular crayons and then just checked everything out. Aisles like that calm me down. They make me think about pens and big blank sheets of paper that can be filled with whatever I can think of, and this makes me happy. I imagined that if I had some extra money, I would buy some cardstock and scrap booking supplies and make cards for all of my friends.

After this therapeutic exercise, I made my way to the grocery section.

It wasn't all that bad.

When I got to my first stop (dairy), I noticed an elderly gentleman in one of those store-provided scooters asking a young stock-boy to hand him some butter. The man was really friendly, and the stock-boy was really nice back, and it sort of had that "restoring my faith in humanity" effect on the entire rest of the trip. I found a lot in the store to smile about.

There was this older woman with her granddaughter who was definitely breaking the shopping cart speed limit and just about ran me over, along with another woman. Instead of both of us getting angry about it and telling the woman off or flipping her the bird, we just looked at each other and smiled and ended up in a fit of laughter that had the old woman confused along with everyone else in the store aisle. A shared experience can open a whole new world of joy.

I took great pleasure in my choices at the store today.

I made sure to buy the least expensive items when possible and the most environmental items when thinking about cleaning and the healthiest of juices. I really read all of the labels and checked all of the prices and compared and weighed and measured and bought what was in season. I tried to be thrifty and shop quality at the same time.

All of it honestly made me feel good about myself.

The best part of the trip was the check-out line.

I refused to be in a hurry today. I just finished 29 Gifts in 29 Days by Cami Walker, and I learned a little something. I wanted to savor each moment and drink in the humanity around me for the positives rather than the negatives for once. It wasn't hard in the check-out line.

My clerk was an elderly Jamaican gentleman who was singing hymns in a beautiful Caribbean voice that seemed to jingle and flow at once while he scanned my items. He brought the heavy bags around for me so I didn't have to hurt my back lifting them myself and he scanned some items in the cart so I didn't have to put them on the conveyor. It was the best check-out experience of my life.

I include this because it really did work on my perspective. This morning I was so angry about my pain and my anxiety and my failures and my jealously of others and my bitterness. I wrote about it elsewhere and tried to do better, but often only found myself in tears of frustration and snapping at my children when they only wanted me to read them a book or play with them. Thank God for the grocery store and little perspective changers. May they be abundant in your life today and always.

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Hey Miss -
I'm back reading all of your blogs that I missed over Christmas when I was back in PA with the family, and while I don't usually comment on blogs (because I feel crazy anxiety when people comment on mine!) I felt like I had to let you know you're not alone in your feelings.

This particular entry made my heart really happy, because I saw you doing all the things that I have to do to get through a particularly 'scary' shopping trip or trip out in public. I'm horribly socially anxious. Trips to Target in the Bronx make me breathe hard and shake - its always so crowded and scary! - but I do my little ritualistic things so that I feel better. I look in the dog and cat aisle, and wish that I could buy a new bed for my pup. I look at music and movies... things that calm me.

I don't even want to talk about Whole Foods here in Manhattan... my goodness... it's wretched. The lines are so long, and people are so mean and rude. Yuck.

I'm glad to see that you've figured out a way to keep on keeping on without meds! And I plan on using some of your techniques to feel less stressed in big social situations. Thanks for that.

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