Great trip to Cleveland. Drove with a close friend and loved every minute. Coming home was different because I was flying back from Pittsburgh - alone. When we made the plans I thought I was fine with it, totally ignoring my flight fretfulness and feelings of anxiety when in a new location all by myself. I continued to ignore those feelings right up to the moment I got out of the car and entered the Pittsburgh International Airport. Then I remembered.
It was 1:30PM when I checked my luggage and proceeded into the terminal. I was hungry. I had lunch with me (whole grain wheat free sunflower bread, almond butter, apple) and sat at the food court to eat it - but not before I perused all the fast food counters to check out their various offerings. Chinese, McDonalds, Mexican, Italian, Bakery, Frozen things, more baked foods, candy stands and a coffee bar. I bought a coffee to go with my lunch and stuck with what I brought.
While eating my lunch I watched some other people chowing down on burgers and fries and a single woman traveler eating a salad that was literally covered in a creamy dressing and topped with layers of cheese. I knew that for me, what I had in my hand was the only food I needed. Then I swallowed the last bite and immediately wanted something else.
I recognized I was feeling something other than hunger. Oh it tried to make me think I was simply hungry - starving for something else after a meal that I knew perfectly well was 'enough.' I knew I was feeling something other than hunger. I pulled out my 'feeling cards.' These are cards I made for myself that list adjectives associated with feelings and when I find feelings that describe what I feel at that moment I read the main feeling associate with those adjectives. I was feeling anxiety, uncomfortable, uneasy. It was all related to fear.
On the back of the cards I have a list of actions to take in response to the feelings. Positive responses. Things that have nothing to do with eating. I said the serenity prayer twice. I spent three minutes breathing deeply with my eyes closed. Then I read the suggestion to make a call to someone else who might also be afraid. I called a friend who I knew was also flying that day, from another airport. I have flown with her before. She also has flight fret. She was already in the air so I left her a message that I was thinking of her and wished her a safe landing.
Then I went to the gate and waited for my flight. Sitting there, it suddenly occurred to me: I was not flying alone. I was flying with a whole plane full of people. I started to talk to the person I sat next to at the gate. I learned she was going to visit her grandchildren in Orlando. I learned she was Polish (like me) and she learned I knew about the area where her family lived and I could tell her what was in the area. We learned that where she was 14E I was 14F. What are the chances that I sat down next to the very person who would be sitting next to me on the plane? That was a good sign.
We didn't need to keep up a steady stream of conversation before or during the flight. It was enough to establish a human contact. We became comfortable with each other. I felt relaxed.
I fly listening to music with my iPod. I have a playlist named Songs in Flight. It calms me down. When I got on the plane I realized I did not have my earbuds in my bag. I had mistakenly packed them and put them in the overhead. I was calm enough to not need to rely on the music. Milestone of recovery.
I had packed a protein bar for my afternoon snack and planned to have it when they served the soda and cookies on board. Somehow the protein bar was not in my bag. I laughed and had a quick conversation with the God of my Understanding. "Good one God. I recognize a test when I get one. Okay, I do not need a snack today. I can do it. Bring it on."
They were passing out biscotti and chips. I declined to have anything. I did not have a soda. I did not have a drink. I read my book and enjoyed a smooth flight. We landed early. My husband was there when I came out with my luggage. He had dinner waiting in the crock pot at home: Beef stew.
It was a great trip.