thief of time

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Phobias

One of the things that I've always known about myself is that I’m quite claustrophobic. When I was younger it used to take the traditional form—an extreme dislike of being hemmed in physically, either by people or by places. I discovered the dislike of small spaces when I was playing hide and seek and sometimes found a place that was too small for comfort.

Fortunately, I’ve never suffered from it in an extreme form, unlike some people that can’t get into lifts. If I find myself getting a bit tense because I can’t move (like in the Easter Show exhibits), I can usually calm myself down.

Lately, I’ve discovered my claustrophobia has shown itself in rather strange ways.

I come from a very small town and moved to Sydney when l married, which is something I'd never imagined doing. By that, I mean move to any city, let alone Sydney.

Most of the time, it isn't too bad, as we live in an older suburb where things were laid out with a fair bit of space.

Occasionally, though, it's a bit overwhelming. I look up to the hills around me and see them totally lined with houses and feel really hemmed in.

It can also hit me when I go into the City shopping and become aware that I'm surrounded by thousands and thousands of people that I don't know and will never know.

There are times when you enjoy the freedom of being in a place where not everyone knows you and your family for generations. Other times, it isn’t a nice feeling at all. Of course, this may just mean I’m becoming agoraphobic in my old age. Still feels like claustrophobia though, and being hemmed in and trapped.

Another weird thing I’ve noticed is that I can’t wear tight rubber gloves. I have a hand that fits a medium quite well and I can put up with a medium, though I always buy large for myself. The few occasions that I have to wear a small and try to pull them off, it’s as though I’m a child again trying to escape from someone or something that’s grabbed me. Can you get claustrophobia of the hands?

As you get older, aren’t you supposed to become more mature and balanced? Of course, that only happens with the really fine wines, doesn’t it? I must be turning into vinegar.

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