Coping, Favorites, Triggers


For the last few years, we’ve gotten season tickets to the theater. They are less expensive than tickets for individual shows and with them, we always have at least one date night a month. Unfortunately, I’m filled with anxiety in the days before each show. What if my headache is bad? What if I’m stuck next to someone wearing too much perfume? What if…?

Last night was our final play for the season and all my fears were realized. My headache was between a 5 and a 6 before we left, but I wanted to go anyway. The theater was small and our seats were right in the center in the second row of the balcony.

This was exciting on the one hand, terrifying on the other. The show was 90 minutes long without an intermission. If I had to leave, I’d be stepping on the 10 people in my row, blocking the view for the two rows behind them and cause enough of a stir to irritate everyone in the balcony.

While Hart and I were chatting before the show, the smell of cinnamon stopped me in mid-sentence. Four women in the row in front of us had popped cinnamon Altoids in their mouths.

During the play, my headache only got a little worse. The Altoids dissolved and the container wasn’t opened again. No one near me had bathed in perfume. But I still spent the entire show worrying about how I would escape if I had to. I wondered if we should get season tickets again and if I could request seats at the end of an aisle.

I listed off every scenario that could put me in a similar situation — airplanes, concerts, movies — and it became clear that worrying was useless. Headache or not, I’m still going to fly and go to the concerts and movies that I really want to see. If I become too miserable, I move to another seat or leave.

Even though it often feels like it, my body isn’t in total control of me. I’ll do well to remember this as long as I also remember that the comfort of other people doesn’t always take precedence over my needs.