Not the most cheerful of topics but I wanted to make note of it so I don’t forget how I felt when I had it.
We are meant to go visit our family who lives a 15-minute train ride away from us. Normally, not a big deal. Thanks to COVID-19 and BLM, a bit of a deal. But you could not tell my brain anything but that it was a HUGE and dangerous undertaking. The closer we are to the date, the more my body goes haywire. My heart starts beating faster, I get emotional, my body shakes – I want to flee.
But the more I sit with this feeling, the more I am able to understand that it is anxiety. It is fear. About taking a train.
I have lived through a military coup; I have lived through an earthquake; I have survived motorbike crashes; I have nation-hopped with nothing but a passport and a few clothes; I have watched a volcano come alive and threaten to destroy the village I was living in; I have built my life from scratch in 4 different countries. And yet, the thought of getting on a train in England, a first world country has filled me with terror.
And having now sat with that fear for a few days, and maybe thanks to lockdown, I am now able to understand that my fear has to do with what can be done to me if I let my guard down.
Will I be spat at for taking a train even though the government has not specifically banned travel by public transport? It happened to Belly Mujinga, and she was British.
Will I be verbally abused by railway staff for using public transport, abused until I am forced to get off? It happened to Glenn MacDonalad, and he was British.
Will I be the victim of the good intentions of a neighbourhood watch who’ve interpreted the ambiguous government rules their own way?
No matter how much of a pep-talk I give myself about how it’s probably all in my head, and how I know I can do it, I can’t shake this awful feeling. After all, haven’t I braved through more? Am I not known for my sense of adventure?
Probably. But I feel so small. And so overwhelmed. Over something so simple. I wonder how long before I can shut down my flight or fight instinct that seems to now be on all the time.
The thought haunts me – how well would I fair as a foreigner who is so obviously foreign in these strange times? Would I make it?