yesterday, i went to my first NFL football game. the american kind. donated tickets from C’s school led us higher and higher to seats in a sea of red and white. the stadium pulsated with noise and movement and the driving force of competition. it was exhilarating.
but my heart was not racing from the excitement. it was racing because i could see no way out.
the mammoth roof of steel and glass that could retract at the push of a button, felt like a loaded weapon to be watched. all i could see were thousands of people between me and outside. my mind started to feed me jagged imaginings. it took me through tumbling down steep cement stairs, that panicked pressing forward of bodies that can take feet off ground. turnstiles we had shuffled through became impossibly small for a retreat and my hands tightened on my bag, anticipating the imagined collapse.
i have been claustrophobic for a lifetime.
willingly following my always toward adventures dad into deeper down caves and more….i would shove fear deep down into my pockets, denying my mind’s invitation.
i came up with excuses to avoid games with hiding. had to see the light coming through the door of my bedroom at night. waited for the next, less crowded elevator.
i remember nearly pushing R hard to get her out of my way after a rescue climb into a tower of primary colored tubes . it shook me. that i would hurt her to free me.
that fear’s insistence was louder than mother love. i never went in again.
recently i brushed up against the kind of claustrophobia that leads to suicide. that sometimes a child’s, sometimes a grown up pressing in.
fear and hopeless meet up with what smells and tastes like failure. and they close the door to truth.
you only see one exit from this imagined collapse. desperation invites. answering leaves no thought of hurting, only escape.
it shook me.
“do not fear, for i am with you;
do not anxiously look about you, for i am your god.
i will strengthen you, surely i will help you,
surely i will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
isaiah 41.10 (NASB)