A Case for Agoraphobia

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

February 28th, 2010 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

Perhaps it has something to do with the part of the world in which I am living.  But I find that there is a disturbing level of aggression outdoors, making it feel anywhere from unpleasant to downright dangerous to leave the sanctuary of my home and go out for a short walk.

A few days ago, I went on a walk at night.  As I was approaching an intersection, two cars behind me also were approaching the same intersection.  I considered just walking forward, instead of turning left as planned, because I can’t stand the energy of drivers who gun their engines at an intersection and impatiently inch forward, as a pedestrian crosses the road.

But I am always taking precautions that take me out of my way, which gets tiresome, so I decided to just trust the drivers and cross the street as planned.  As I was crossing, I heard one of the cars driving – not inching, but driving — toward me.  On the one hand, I did not want to turn and look at the car, because headlights can be blinding.  On the other hand, I wanted to see where the car was in relation to me.  I also admittedly wanted to shoot a death look at the idiotic driver.

I was freaked to see the driver seriously coming straight at me. The lights were those crazy super white luxury car lights that are especially blinding.  Which left me something akin to a deer caught in the headlights.  I yelled at the driver, who made not one motion of acknowledgment while clipping past and scaring me.

The nerve shot from the headlights triggered eye pain that has been dormant for a  while.  I walked home with my eyes closed for as much of the walk as possible.  When I arrived, I sat in the dark for 15 minutes, with my eyes closed — grounding myself and sending myself energy, to overcome the stabbing nerve pain in my eye and shock to my nervous system. I have been dealing with sharp eye pain, on and off, since that incident.

I am no less than astounded by the complete disregard so many people, at least around these parts, have for human life, dignity, and/or body space.

Today I went for a happy walk in the sunshine.  As I passed the first alleyway on the sidewalk, I paused and turned my head to the right, to make sure there were no cars zipping out — which cars often do, as if there are no pedestrians or other cars to look out for.  Right at that moment, a car full of young men sped by and shouted something at me, then laughed as they took off.

The jolt from the shout sent a shock wave through my nervous system.  Why would people do something like that, I wondered.  I also tried to distinguish the word they shouted.  Then I got it: “Slut.”  A word used to indiscriminately sexualize and demean women, obviously irrespective of circumstance.

I felt angry.  I played with the energy.  I sat with it for a little bit, then yelled, “Fuck you!”  in the direction of the car. I breathed in positive energy. I yelled and jumped on the grass in one bounding motion, exhaling the negative energy. I channeled more positivity. I loudly and firmly said, “No no no no!” For the rest of the walk, I otherwise processed the energy, my feelings about the interaction, and my thoughts about the implication of gender relations in our society.

Then as I was nearing home, I heard someone pounding behind me. It was a jogger, just a second behind me. I started to move to the right, as he ran past, super close. My ankle started hurting. Can’t people give a little extra body space or at least give heads-up, like I do when I am about to pass – giving someone the awareness and opportunity to move over?

Sometimes I just don’t want to leave the house.

And then there’s the added layer that all those Law of Attraction types will take an opportunity like this to ramble on about how your thoughts create your reality, blah blah blah, by expecting cars and people to behave a certain way, you make ‘em do it, yada yada yada.

But here’s the thing: There’s a reason why we anticipate cars moving in certain ways and people acting in certain ways, namely, they do those things. Repeatedly. And if we don’t acknowledge it and take precautions, we’re basically dumb.

I believe there is a balance between asserting our own positive energy and allowing the possibility of a different outcome, and acknowledging the current reality and taking it into consideration. But I’ll save that for another blog post.


Heather Freeman March 1st, 2010

That kind of thing is more prevalent in LA, in my experience, though there are rude and oblivious people everywhere.
Some of it has to do with the culture of the city, I think. People are so crowded together that they lose their own sense of personal space, and hence their respect for that of others.
Of course, less crowded areas also have the drawbacks of fewer resources, especially in the alternative health and healthy eating arenas.

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