I see myself as calm, in control. I don’t flap.
And then I have to go to an airport, train station, bus garage and I go all to pieces.
Perhaps it’s a residue from my holiday planning incompetence.
We travelled back from Scotland a few days ago. Fight at 7pm. 2-3 hour car drive to Glasgow airport. Left at just before 2pm. All went smoothly until Loch Lomond and the traffic snarled.
I felt the panic coming. I became indecisive, fractious. The satnav said turn off the main road but the alternate route looked significantly longer. Views were expressed but I just gripped the seat and urged the driver to go faster, even if only to close the gap to the next hold up. We made check in with 10 minutes to spare. The family all laughed while I practised breathing and tried not to hate everyone and everything. In the end the flight was delayed by 30 minutes….
When I worked full time as a lawyer, I had no difficulty sleeping, however stressful things became. Others complained of sleepless nights, chemically induced slumbers, a foreswearing of caffeine after lunch. But I just got on with it.
And then I hit 50 and gradually I woke earlier. Still I fell asleep in moments but I’d come to at 5am, 4am. And in the half sleep when I knew I was in bed and who I was but I was still really asleep, I was utterly completely panicked. A disaster awaited me. I tossed, turned and was in turmoil. The only way to break free was to get up, have a pee and go back to bed, wide awake but clear headed. There was always a solution: some problems weren’t problems at all. I’d go back to bed and take time falling asleep but it would come. I knew, next morning, I’d feel just a little bit washed out.
Now, when I’m no longer tied to meeting schedules and deadlines and closings and more meetings, I sleep fine. The habit of a trip to the bathroom remains but that may be part of the shrivelling, sagging saga that comes with age.
Now my nerves are confined to transport hubs and…
When I set up my first book, all formatted and ready and all I had to do was press ‘publish’ I froze. I felt sick, I shook. I stared at that little button. It seemed like a nuclear option. I waited until help arrived. Then my finger was guided to the button and ‘boom’. Nothing exploded, if you ignore my heart.
I’ve now done the publishing bit twice. Was it easier second time? Nope, it was dreadful. I did it. I did it alone. I played it cool, made it sound like a mere bagatelle. But my heart raced, I sweated like a liquid salt mine and my stomach… we don’t need to hear from my stomach.
I’m pleased it’s out there, my second book. I’m very happy with it. But I’m also still so nervous. A bit like sending my children to school. Someone else is now in charge able to influence them, to say they know them better than I do. How will they be received? What will people think of the job I’ve done with them? No longer are they mine, if ever they were. Just the same as with my books.
Will this get easier? You know, I hope not. Pressing publish was exhausting but after, when I’d had a cup of calming tea it felt so GOOD. My children have turned out ok, despite what I did. And I’ve done my best by my books and characters. I think I can be quite proud of them all, but, hey they are what they are. I’ve let them go and worrying will do me no good now. And the occasional praise makes it all worth the effort.