I’m spiraling the entire drive home.
What’s usually my favorite way to think through things- a quiet drive by myself- feels like a tiny, rolling prison. The music is too loud. The road is too bumpy. There’s traffic when there shouldn’t be any. I’m fidgety and agitated. I talk to myself out loud, try to reason through my triggers and my responses to them, but I am tired of being reasonable with me.
I roll the windows down. I roll the windows up. I tap on the steering wheel absentmindedly and then more aggressively until I realize I’ve hurt my hand. I sing along to the radio. I drive in silence. I talk out loud. I feel like I’m going to vibrate out of my skin.
Somewhere around Delaware I feel caged and feral. I can only inhale in big, desperate gulps. My hands have gone clammy and won’t stop trembling. I feel like I could scream or cry or both.
I pull over somewhere safe and fling myself out of the car like it’s on fire. I pace in anxious circles, trying to breathe, trying to think, trying to try. After awhile my heart rate slows and and my hands return to their normal temperature. My breathing is more bouncy than turbulent. My thoughts aren’t racing and I can stand to be in my skin with them again.
I can feel the tension in every nut and bolt and nook and cranny of my body. The pressure of trying to hold myself together. Of saying enough but making sure to say nothing. Of trying to shrink to avoid critique. Of constantly anticipating the abrupt shift of calamity in an effort to stem its tide.
I climb back in the car, my nerves humming dully, but quieter than before.
The drive home is suffocating, aching, quiet. I burrow into the cocoon of the car and pretend it has transported me somewhere else, someone else.
I drag myself through my front door feeling weak and relieved. I could sleep for a week. I know I won’t sleep at all.
I knew it would come.