Yesterday, I crossed the street in my neighborhood, and the one person who causes me the most panic in the world was crossing in the other way. I noticed her just as the walk signal was about to come up; I could tell that she noticed me as well. She was carrying groceries and, uncharacteristically, wearing her glasses instead of her contact lenses. I had my headphones in and was chuckling to the jokes being made on the podcast I was listening to.
At first, I thought of turning the other way, of going back up the street so that our paths would not have to cross — I hadn’t seen this person in months and even though I was getting better, I still was wary of triggering the kind of panic attacks that she used to cause. Instead, I stepped into the street and crossed the crosswalk, just as she did the same. I strode confidently past her, and instead of shuddering, or even deviating my path, I looked at her and smiled.
She, as is her custom, even when we were on better terms, scowled and glowered and then quickly looked away. I was not fazed.
It took me a few seconds to catch my breath, but I caught it by the time I had hit the sidewalk on the other end of the crosswalk. I did not succumb to panic, and did not engage in a cycle of self-doubt or self-loathing as would normally accompany such an event. I went on with my day, knowing that I am happy, and I am being the person I’ve always wanted to be.
I’m getting better, slowly, and yesterday was just one moment that proved that I am.