I have finally resurfaced from what has felt like an epic hangover.
Of course, the fact that we went out to dinner on Saturday night and didn't get home until after midnight certainly hasn't helped.
It was a gorgeous little French restaurant with a gorgeous little French waiter. For a moment there, I was in my element.
But a small moment of unease earlier in the day revisited me later that night.
And so it is with anxiety. A tiny seed planted, quietly awaiting its terrible bloom.
I chatted amiably with Bren's work colleagues. Kids, family, Christmas. A perfectly lovely conversation that I suddenly felt myself slipping away from. As though my chair were being pulled backwards, the distance between the people sitting opposite me slowly grew. I was being sucked into a bubble, the sounds around me becoming a dull hum.
I continued to nod and smile as the swirling panic sucked me down.
I excused myself to use the bathroom and cursed myself for wearing such ridiculously high heels as I attempted to rush down the narrow staircase to the Ladies. The charming and intimate space of the restaurant now seemed small and claustrophobic.
"Please be free, please be free," I chanted in my head, the fight or flight response of panic churning my stomach into liquid.
Audibly, I sighed as I locked myself within the tiny space of the vacant toilet. I sat and attempted to steady my breathing.
Outside, the click clack of heels on the tiled floor alerted me to the presence of another waiting for me to finish up.
The walls of the tiny cubicle appeared to breathe in, trapping me. I couldn't move.
A wave of nausea rose inside me, fuelled by the escalating panic.
She would have to wait. Or use the Men's.
I couldn't move.
I concentrated on what was real. The wallpaper. A golden brown with black felt cutouts of dogs. Every conceivable breed. And, wait, anatomically correct dogs? Yes, that was definitely not a tail.
Breathe, Angie. Just keep breathing.
How long have I been in here?
"Is this a toilet, too?"
And then the click clack of heels again. Thank God. She's using the Men's.
Another moment or two. More breathing.
And then the click clack of heels once more, blessedly retreating.
Finally, I emerged. No audience. Thank you, God.
I made my way back up the stairs and immediately grabbed my bag, indicating to Bren that we needed to leave.
He is well versed in this. Knows my face all too well. I didn't need to say a word.
I blamed my pregnant state on our sudden departure. Thank you, little baby.
And then, the bite of the fresh evening air was upon my face. And then, my heels were off and with a bare foot, I felt the cool of the accelerator pedal and depressed it.
I pointed the car towards home. I was in control.
And only then, did I really start to breathe again.
It's taken a couple of days to shake off. Anxiety lays me low, exhausts me and undermines my every thought.
Until I push the fucker down again.
I always push the fucker down.
But hang in there with me. I'm still pushing.