Saturday, April 14, 2012

Traveling when the Props and Flexibility Theory Don't Work

Headphones - Not A Perfect Solution
Hello Friends:

Gearing up for more travel, I found some writing I had intended to post a few months ago.  I had cruised through two flights using my Fun, Flexibility, and Props.  And in one moment, panic.  Oh yeah.


I think this is sort of the sink or swim aspect of travel.  Sometimes you can't make a situation feel better.  Sometimes you can't adapt, adjust, block it with headphones, or wipe it with a handiwipe.  Sometimes it just sucks.

I got my first real "hit" for the trip.  It's amazing it took that long, and I ought to be patting myself on the back.  Third flight of the day.  Third.  Airplane is filling up, and we are getting ready to go.

And the person behind me coughs.  Very loudly.

Before I can "insert a contrary and positive cognition" I am seized with a jolt of fear.  I am contaminated, and will spend a five hour flight sitting three feet away from this person.  I am doomed.

That all goes through my head in a flash.  I can feel the heat in my skin like a burn, and my hands are clammy.  I try not to show my reaction on my face, but by the time I realize what I'm doing, I have my head bowed and am rocking in my seat.  Spouse notices, of course.  And since he knows me, he also knows exactly why his 'normal' wife has just gone semi-catatonic.  Terror is a good one word answer.

He leans in and says, "There are lots of reasons for someone to have a cough and not have something communicable."

I almost smile, as I see him trying to put in the positive cognitions that I am failing to generate.  Instead I think - pandemic.  Here I am right at the start.  I should be honored.  There are a ton of international people on this flight, and it's going start right here.  Some SARS spread kinda thing.  I am f#ck*d.

I have the presence of mind to realize as I think this just how incredibly self-centered fear can be.  How cold it can make you.  A cough does not bring up feelings of compassion, it brings up a desire to get away from the person as fast as possible.  A strange war of nonsense and actual good reason.  Cognitive dissonance, my good friend, nice to see you again.

As it turns out, the plane is not full.  The entire row across from us is empty.  My husband points, "We can move over."

I think hard, then look at him, "If you say it is rational to remain here, if you say that it is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, then let's stay.  There are too many times when you can't get away.  And if this isn't actually something you are worried about, let's stay."

And we did.  Are.  I'm typing this still sitting in the row in front of coughing lady.  I've been working on lots of cognitions that say she has some kind of chronic cough or allergy, and isn't sick at all.  And then I turned to the travel props.  Bose headphones, with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers cranked up.  Can't hear a d@mn thing, now. 


Well, nothing like a dose of real life.  Prepare and then just deal.  Guess you can't do any better than that when traveling.  I'll note that I did not get sick on that trip.  Not that I expect logic to work on me next time ...

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: Kevin Lawver, My Headphones, on Flikr via Creative Commons, CC 2.0


Tina Fariss Barbour said...

I loved this post! I loved reading about your thought processes as you went along and arrived at your decision to stay where you were on the plane. Good for you!

My docotr used to tell me that medications couldn't take care of everything and that I would have to learn to "adapt." You give a fine example of that in your post.

Karin said...

Great post! That's wonderful that after all your fear, you decided to stay and ride it out! 1 small step for Blue Morpho, 1 giant kick in the pants for ocd :)

Elizabeth said...

You explained it perfectly. This is exactly how I feel when someone coughs in close quarters to me. And then I feel selfish because I'm not having compassion, I'm having fear. This is a great post! I'm gonna link it on my sidebar!

Jen Daisybee said...

Blue Morpho: You are the recipient of an I Choose to Live Award. To get a copy of the award for your blog and to read the write-up go to: and scroll down to the new award recipients for 2012. :)

Alisha said...

Just came across your blog via Tina Fariss Barbour's :)

Just wanted to say that I'm happy and inspired to see that there are so many people writing openly about their disorders on Blogger!

I'm 23 and I suffer from severe GAD so the whole "traveling" thing hits pretty close to home. My comfort items have to be my laptop, cell phone and pillow. And, yes, I admit that my teddy bear (the one I've had since I was 7) has been known to travel with me too ;)

Thank you for being fearless and sharing your story with others! Such an inspiration!

The Blue Morpho said...

Wow - thanks for all the supportive comments! You all know how hard it is to do an 'exposure' when you don't have any resources left in you. And as usual, knowing I'm not the only one always helps me feel validated! Thanks for reading, and I hope you are getting some healing, here, too!

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