It’s been a few days since this happened, but it’s been eating me alive, so maybe if I share the story, it will stop.
It was the hubby’s birthday on Sunday. He’s normally the one who does the grocery shopping. We needed things from the store but he didn’t feel like going. So Boo and I volunteered to go for him.
The store was busier than normal with people milling around everywhere, which can sometimes wreak havoc with my anxiety and panic attacks. But today, I vowed to keep all of that in check. Boo and I quickly got everything we needed and made for a checkout line. All of them were long, so I just chose one at random. There was an older woman (late 60s maybe?) that only had 3 items who had gotten in line behind me. When the line moved, I absolutely insisted she go ahead of me, as I had a cart full of things. She was very appreciative. When we were finally being rung up, the poor cashier looked like she was exhausted and needed a break. She kept making small mistakes and was getting frustrated with herself. I told her to not be so hard on herself and to take her time, even though my own anxiety was rapidly mounting, and gave her an encouraging smile. She smiled at me gratefully.
Boo and I walked out to the car. I had her go ahead and get in so I wouldn’t have to worry about her getting hit by a car or something. (Side note: Yes, I know Boo is 12 now and she can watch where she’s going in a parking lot. I will always worry about that no matter how old she is.) I loaded up the trunk with the groceries and noticed the cart return guy had a load of carts to take inside. I walked over to him to offer him my cart and that’s when it happened. There were two kids (I say kids, but they were anywhere from 17 to 21), driving a blue two door too fast through the crosswalk area in front of the store. I guess they thought I was being a killjoy, standing there with my cart. The passenger leaned out the window and yelled at me, and I quote, “Get out of the way , you fat fucking bitch! We’re gonna kill you!”.
The next few seconds were a blur for me, as the anxiety and panic flooded my system. I have PTSD as well, so I was struggling with my “fight or flight” response. My gut reaction was to fight: to jump in my car, follow them and inflict bodily harm. I jumped in the car, had it in reverse and was just about to pursue them when Boo started telling me about all the different kinds of hot chocolate Starbucks makes (she had bought one while I was waiting in the checkout line). The sound of her sweet voice brought me back down to earth. I frantically tried to keep myself from having the worst adrenaline-induced panic attack of the century, as well as calm my fighting instincts, so I just told her that I needed a few minutes of silence. Without questioning anything, she stopped talking and grabbed hold of my hand, giving it a gentle squeeze of acknowledgement.
When we got to Baskin Robbins, I told her what had happened, and explained to her how panic attacks come out of nowhere sometimes. I also told her how hard it was to deal with the “fight or flight” response and how if she hadn’t been with me, I probably would have done something stupid. So, we bought the hubby an ice cream cake for his birthday and went back home before anything else life threatening could happen. And I was, once again, saved by the Boo.