If you follow me over at my twitter page (@beemieawards) you know I recently got home from a trip calling races at Gulfstream Park West in Miami, Florida. It really was the trip of a lifetime. I even did a vlog about it HERE . On the drive home I finally got some time to reflect on it. When I agreed to do the fill-in gig, I really approached it as simply an opportunity to do something I had once done but hadn’t in a few years.
In April of 2015 I left Louisiana and drove home to interview for the job at Emerald Downs. I didn’t get that job and didn’t want to go back to Louisiana, so for the first time in 10 years I was no longer working in racing. In those next couple of years I really struggled with my anxiety, agoraphobia, and all that stuff. I applied for a few announcing jobs but never really got a sniff. I think word was out that I was probably wasn’t someone you wanted to be the voice of your track. And they were right in thinking that. I was struggling to even go to the grocery store. Yet I was gonna call races? No shot.
Starting last Spring I really started to focus on being more active and trying to get back out and see and do things. I started making lists of things I wanted to do again. #OperationTakeMyLifeBack had started. Sometimes it was as simple as go to the shopping mall. Or sit in a restaurant with a friend. Or walk a mile. Eventually the walks became 2 and now about 3 miles in the morning. I found with the increased stamina it became easier to do these activities I wanted to do. I went to a baseball game. Took several trips. Went on some great hikes. It really was a great summer for me on several levels.
Calling the races at GPW was another big thing to check off. So now back here on my couch, I’ve been thinking, what’s next? What is next to try and do that maybe I used to do, or have never done? I’m thinking about taking a trip on a train. Nothing too long, but somewhere. I’m way too attached to my car and for years saw it as a “safe place”. If I can get to my car I can get away from whatever I was anxious about. So I think taking a train trip like that might be a good exposure therapy exercise. I want to go to the top of the space needle or Columbia tower. Heights are still not my favorite and last time I went up in the space needle i had a knee buckling panic attack. I also thought maybe I could go to an open mic night and play some songs on my guitar. I haven’t played in front of people since probably 2013 or so?
The real big thing I hope to do again someday is to fly. As a kid I loved to fly and when I was 21 I started having bad anxiety on a couple of flights. My last flight was coming back from Las Vegas on my 21st birthday weekend. I was completely panicked and when we landed I remember thinking “I’m not doing that again any time soon.” I developed a total phobia of flying and just seeing a plane or seeing video of people in planes would send me into heart palpitations and sweats. So now 17 years later I’m finally feeling open to trying again. I’ve been watching youtube videos of people on flights. I think I would try a short one, maybe from Seattle to Portland. It’s like 25 minutes in the air. I’m sure i’ll be scared, but I keep reminding myself of how proud i’ll be of myself when we land.
Part of me thinks getting older has eased the fears. While I was scared of dying in the plane crash, i know the odds are miniscule. For me, I was always scared of having a panic attack and freaking out and being stuck in the plane. That’s the big fear. Dying was a big part of it cause I always have been obscenely scared of dying. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve found that fear just isn’t as strong. I know it’s coming, and I know it’s probably coming sooner than later given my weight and health. But If I have 10 or 20 or even 30 years left, I should take advantage of them and live and do things. I spent so many years trying to avoid the outside world and scared in my little cocoon of fear. It’s been so empowering pushing back against that past. I have regrets that I can’t change it and get those years back, but I do take some comfort in the fact that I’ve emerged from those years in a better place. Atleast for now.