Here are some of the rules:
- Don't put yourself in a position to have to eat in a hurry.
- Always arrive at an event at least 45 minutes before curtain or the beginning of the event.
- Never go to an event without knowing exactly where you are going.
- Always have a parking strategy and a plan B.
- Don't join in an activity or event if your first reaction is that you don't want to.
- Never go into a movie theatre (or regular theatre) in the dark when the movie (event) is already in progress.
- There will be no climbing over other people to get to your seat.
- No matter how much money you spent, the anxiety attack you will get from breaking these rules is not worth it.
- Go before you go.
- Don't be afraid to give yourself a timeout.
Last night, every one of the above rules (maybe more) were set into motion. Some were broken, some were artfully avoided.
I left work and it was the worst weather we have seen in weeks. The freeway was backed up, so I took a surface street and that was backed up, too. As I approached Burnside, I could see all the lanes merging for construction, so I went up to 20th...then down Burnside. Many detours and roads closed off. Parked while it was pouring rain in big, thick drops. Went to the restaurant (my friends had ordered for me already). The food came at like 7:15pm (show starts at 8pm...you can see where this is going...). Food super hot (good food, but too hot to eat), took a long time to eat, but worried about the time, too. Went to the restroom (but had drunk 2-3 glasses of water) and took off into the rain again (7:32pm) to go to Cirque du Soliel (sp). I know WHERE it is, I just wasn't sure how to get there. One of my companions showed me their GPS and the streets that stood out were Harbor and Sheridan. Unfortunately, there isn't a clear sign to Harbor from Naito Parkway and there are SEVERAL parts to Sheridan. By 7:45, I am sitting in a line to try to get into a parking lot. By 7:55pm, I am still sitting in a line trying to get into a parking lot and I see my friends walk by. Finally, I skip the line to park and go to the next furthest parking area (but not the one with the shuttle). I get out and shlog to the show, umbrella in hand, just in case. When I get there, it is after 8:00pm. I hate that.
When I enter the tent, they tell me that there is a lock out until 8:15pm. At 8:15pm, I see one of my friends who directs me into the theatre when it is time, but on the wrong side from my chair. We go up the wet, slippery stairs and enter the arena where I see that in order to get to my seat, I will have to climb over at least 10 people. In the dark. I can't do it. I'm completely overstimulated by now and all my worst anxieties come to the fore. What if I trip? What if one of the people won't move their feet so that I can get through? What if I get to my seat and I have an anxiety attack (uh, duh)? What if I get there and I have to suddenly go to the bathroom and I can't get out? What if I try to get out and trip on someone and then I have to leave because I am so humiliated that I can't come back in?
Meanwhile, the poor guy who is ushering me is saying, "This is the best time. It's going to get dark. You should go sit down ma'am." I can't do it. I can't climb over the people. My heart is racing. I just tell him I am going downstairs and I make my way back down the wet, slippery stairs and watch the first act on the television screen. My stomach is in knots. I'm so glad I'm not trapped in the middle of the aisle because I feel like I could be sick in a variety of ways. The crew come and offer me chairs. They ask if they can do anything for me. I smile and decline, embarrassed that I gave into my panic, but happy that I knew enough to take care of myself. Right before intermission, I go to the restroom and I get ready to go to my seat during intermission.
My friends were worried I had left, even though I had signed to them that I was going to watch on TV. They were worried that I was mad. I told them, "I am old enough to know when I need to give myself a Time Out. I was overstimulated and I just needed a Time Out. It's all good." We enjoyed the rest of the show (more about that later) and saw the full moon, in addition to a rainbow earlier in the evening. It didn't rain on our walk to or from the show, so that was good, too.
Now I know. Don't break your own rules. You have them for a reason. If I had followed my own intuition at any point prior to last night, I would not have had to give myself an Adult Time Out. It was a good lesson, though.