I've spent a little bit of my adult life struggling to leave the house on my own. I think I am getting over that phase now. I'm not sure how it happened. It kind of crept up on me. Agoraphobic is a word that feels too strong for what I experienced as I was happy to leave the house with someone. If I'm honest I think it was a lot to do with losing my confidence along with my residual hearing. I didn't think I was interacting too badly with people in shops, cafes, banks etc until I suddenly had children old enough to point it out. That's probably when I started feeling like I was making a fool of myself every time I went out.
Difficult areas are things like questions in shops, eg. Would you like a bag, would you like cashback, can I have your postcode please? I usually say no thank you to everything just to be on the safe side but obviously that doesn't work with the latter question, which I have said no thank you to before now. It would be nice to join in with polite chit chat once in a while. I'm sure cashiers think I am rude when I don't. Then there is the dark side and believe me I've experienced it all. People who have rammed pushchairs or trolleys into my heels because they think I have deliberately ignored their 'excuse me' (one such incident cut my heel and bled all over the shop).
I've been happy at home. I always have some knitting or crochet on the go. It's been easy to hide this problem. M gets the odd day off and I usually request that we go out and explore, citing my desire to get to know Lincolnshire better as a reason.
I can't remember what the turning point was but there was a moment when I thought that I needed to cure myself. I think it might have been last February when my Nan died. I did a lot of reflecting. The first step was to confide in someone, and I did. The next step was to celebrate any occasion that I made it out of the house, and I did. I still tell myself that this would be easier if I lived in Sussex and I could take myself off to all the places I knew and loved as a child. Castles, parks, towns, the coast, friends etc etc. That's probably just a deferral technique. Another is 'driving'. I have chronic neck ache when I drive for more than half an hour; which brings me to the real subject of this post and something that took place yesterday...
M had a day off and I said I would like to go out. Some of the country lanes round here are not well gritted so we didn't want to go far in the car. I said I would rather go to an art gallery than go shopping but we looked up current exhibitions and nothing appealed. M loves to deal in surprises so we headed off in the car. I thought we were heading out to Woodhall Spa where there is a nice patch of woodland to walk through but no, we turned off and drove into the station car park, where M announced that we were going to get on the first train to leave the station and end up wherever that one was going.
You may think this is odd but this is my idea of fun. I love spontaneity! We paid less than a tenner each and ended up on a one coach train to Peterborough of all places. It took an hour and twenty minutes. M was quiet with his Times crossword and coffee and I gazed out of the window and marvelled at the snow covered fields and the amazing tell tale signs of wildlife. There were tracks everywhere. Fox, birds, rabbits, deer. I learnt to recognise these as a child by making my own nature diaries. I was so pleased to see enormous hares, rabbits, pheasant, partridges, a fox and what I can only assume was an owl. It was quite big with a huge head but I only got a fleeting glance. The snow was like seeing bacteria under an ultra violet light or whatever it is they do to reveal where it has all spread. It was like that with the tracks in the snow. Not only that but there was a beautiful little graveyard which must be hundreds of years old, and some amazing derelict mills which would be incredible restored into some kind of useful building again.
We were booked on a specific train to come back so we didn't have a lot of time in the city itself. Just enough time to have lunch in a little cafe that we knew of, browse a few book shops and pick up some small pattern books from John Lewis. We got take away tea and coffee for the journey back (and another crossword for M) and I settled down by the window again to watch the world go by.
Then it struck me that I could actually do that on my own sometime. Previously I thought all trains from here to Peterborough went on to London and having been on those many times know they are overcrowded and incredibly fast. This was a much quieter service. Suddenly the world seems a more accessible place... and the best bit? The ticket collector didn't ask if I wanted a bag or cashback!