There’s an intelligent forcefield waiting for me at the threshold of my front door, it casts a repelling magnetisation from the world, pressurising self-containment inside the prison of my home. The fear used to be invisible, unseen forces: men wearing black who followed me with their operational eyelines, radio tower signals, judgement from the world for a terrible crime I had forgotten committing and the imminent looming arrest. A sense of unease I could never explain to anyone because even if I had a single person to talk to about it, I knew they would never understand. So I retreated silently into the prison of my own minds making, terrified and alone.
At its worst the fear crept spider-like inside the front door, stalking down the corridor until it settled into the scratching walls, behind the mirrors, breathing down the raised hairs on the back of my neck. I was imprisoned inside my bed and the fear we all have as children when we’re in the darkness between the light switch and our beds seeped out into every part of my life. I ran from my bed to the bathroom, to make food, to the maladaptive coping mechanisms that would allow me to fall backwards into the black depths of my fear, praying it would just swallow me whole, once and for all. I lived these horrors day in day out for five years, through the times my peers were completing high school, fighting with their parents over inane trivialities, fretting over the newest Macbook.
When I was eighteen I slowly began healing, it took almost ten long years but I was finally able to go to the grocery store and stake my claim in the space I took up, I could mostly hold the paranoia of strangers judgement and move around in the world despite it, I could set myself monthly challenges to push my limits with exposure. I wasn’t successful and grinding like the motivational speakers of Youtube but I had worked day in day out facing unimaginable terror and traumas, teaching myself basic skills and experiences I missed out on that almost everyone else takes for granted. I crafted a foundation of healing, brick by brick with my bare hands and the guidance of an exceptional therapist. I felt I had finally reached square one, a previously unimaginable milestone.
Then in March 2020 a global pandemic reared its ugly head and for a time a strange sense of relief washed over me. I finally had a face to put on the fear waiting for me at the threshold of my front door, suddenly everyone shared a glimpse into the fifteen long years of terror I faced leaving my home and coming in close proximity to strangers. The world ground to a halt and I no longer had to face my exposure sessions, I no longer had to push myself to sit through the panic attacks waiting patiently for me in the undercarriage of my car. I felt safe, contained, able to be in community with others for the first time. In a single blink I could finally access events, socialising, mutual aid all from the comfort of my home. Thrust into equal footing with the rest of the world for the first time in my life.
It’s August now, the weeks and months have dragged on and suddenly leaving the house holds more weight again, I’m starting to wear out the carpet as I pace back and forth trying to work up the nerve to approach that front door threshold. I plot ways to sneak past the repelling magnetisation of the world pressuring me inside my hermetically sealed agoraphobic prison. The threshold is currently leading the scoreboard.
I am trapped here beneath these dark yet familiar incessant waves of panic. I can’t guess how or even if the world will recover from this pandemic, I just hope that if or when that happens, this terror hasn’t crumbled me away completely.