I have read lots of books. I’ve been reading for 30 years so I can only imagine how many books I’ve read over that amount of time. I couldn’t even guess and I’ve tried. It’s the only constant I’ve ever had in my life. People come and go, houses and towns come and go, whatever. But I’ve always had books. There are many things in my life and in this world that I will never understand but at the top of the list are people that don’t like to read. I. Do. Not. Get. That. What the frack (is that supposed to be ck) is my point???
I just finished reading Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir). I’ve also been reading her blog, Twitter, and Facebook for a few months so I’m familiar with her writing. I have never before so connected and related to a book in the way that I have Jenny’s book. Considering that she has a generalized anxiety disorder and owns several taxidermied “pets”, some people might raise an eyebrow at me for that sentence. But it’s very true nonetheless.
I don’t have a generalized anxiety disorder but I do have social anxiety and an overwhelming fear of making mistakes. That probably has a technical term but I don't know what it is. I was also what was termed as “painfully shy” as a child and thanks to Jenny’s book and my therapist, I’ve realized that I’ve had this anxiety for as long as I can remember. I always say that I hate people but actually, I just hate being in social situations. I never know what to say and the few times that the Mister and I go to parties, I sit on some stranger’s couch and watch the clock until I can go home again. My anxiety isn’t as bad as Jenny’s as she would hide in the bathroom at cocktail parties until etiquette would allow her to go home. My anxiety isn’t debilitating (not completely), just frustrating, embarrassing, and personally painful (although my therapist says I’m one slippery step away from agoraphobia and she’s amazed that I don’t have panic attacks.) When I go shopping, for example, standing in line waiting to pay is torture. By the time I get home, I have a migraine, my hands and feet are swollen, and I can feel that my blood pressure is too high. I feel this way every time I’m around people, even friends and family that I’ve known all my life. It’s why I sit with an accent pillow in my lap or my arms crossed across my stomach if there’s no available pillow. If I’m out in public, I hold my purse (thank goodness for large bags!!) in front of me. Eventually, if I’m around someone long enough, I can relax back to normal but it usually takes longer than a normal social encounter takes. It sucks. Maybe, if you know me, you're thinking that I'm making all this up. But I do my best to avoid socializing and make excuses all the time. Besides, after almost 35 years of being like this, I can hide it sometimes. I can wear a "normal" facade when the occasion calls for it. I’m attempting to work through my plethora of issues with psychotherapy, holding off on meds as a last resort. My new mantra has become, “We’re all humans. We all make mistakes.” I’m not kidding. I say this to myself several times a day. I’m hoping that one day I’ll believe that it actually applies to me.
Jenny’s book has also made me feel normal about how hard Hannah’s loss has been to the Mister, kids, and me. She lost her dog too and said in her book how she still has a hard time writing about it. It’s been almost a year since Hannah passed and I still can’t talk about it. I’m having a hard time not crying as I type this. If I talk about her out loud, I have to think about something else while I do so or I’ll break down. Until today, I felt like I was overreacting or something was just wrong with me. She was just a dog after all. But now I know I’m not the only one who has mourned the loss of a pet so deeply because I too, “loved that damn dog.”
Another chapter was about how she gets lost easily. That is so me!!! I get lost all the freaking time. In the mall, when I go into a store and then come back out, I have no idea which direction I was walking in before I went into the store. When I drive somewhere, pull in and park, when I leave again, I get confused as to which direction I need to turn leaving the parking lot. GPS WAS MADE FOR ME! Except for the fact that our new GPS is a freaking Mexican. And I’m not being racist. She pronounces Los Angeles, Los Ahnhalace. That’s the phonetic spelling. She also says, “8 West 5 South” for 805 south. She’s freaking confusing and sometimes no help at all. That crazy biatch is going to get me lost in the barrio one day, I just know it. (The barrio, for those of you not in the know, is a low-income neighborhood in San Diego where they have bars on the doors and windows. As a white lady, I don’t want to get lost there.) My lack of a sense of direction makes it so that I never want to go anywhere. I don’t like driving with people in the car because I’m afraid of how judgy they’ll be when I get all turned around. This goes back to my “afraid of making mistakes in front of people disorder”. It makes me feel like a child. A sense of direction isn’t just something that you can make yourself learn either. It wouldn’t be called “sense” if it were. And you will never understand where I’m coming from if you have a developed sense of direction just like I will never understand what it’s like to have one. It’s the same way in which a man will never understand the pain of being in labor and giving birth and a woman will never understand how much it hurts being kicked in the balls. (Sorry for the word “balls”.)
I don’t want you to think that this book was all dead animals and panic attacks. There were parts that I laughed at so hard that my family looked at me like I had lost my mind and then I had to read those parts aloud so that they could laugh with me. I would like to tell everyone to read this book but I can’t think of any men that I know that could possibly or would appreciate all the vagina talk. One of Jenny’s favorite words is the “f word” and I also know quite a few people that wouldn’t appreciate that either. (The Youngest child is reading this over my shoulder and criticizing my choice of font. Really?!?!?)
Anyway, I know quite a few of my blogger friends who have this book on their “to be read list”. DON’T PUT IT OFF!! Read it now! You won’t be sorry. Pay special attention to the chapter titled, “Making Friends with Girls”. It’s about Jenny and her blogger friends. It speaks to me too as I’m sure it will you as well.
Thanks for sticking with me to the end of this post. I know it was really long and rambly.
And one last thing…the next time you go to a party and see a girl sitting on the couch by herself, don’t think that she’s too snooty to socialize with everyone. Maybe she’s just too painfully anxious to talk to people. Social anxiety does not equal snobby. Go read this book!