I hate crowds! It's not that I don't like people or that I'm insecure. I just don't like the feeling that there is not sufficient room between me and my neighbor. If I have to plot a path to navigate the room, you will probably find me stationed along a wall with as few people around as possible. Some find it surprising since I love being in the city. Crowds of people that are moving are something entirely different for me; it's when I find myself in a large group of people in a confined space that I begin to feel uncomfortable.
This has always been a struggle when singing in choirs. Inevitably, my conductors have placed me near the center of the tenor section. If I'm in the center of the back row, I'm fine. There's still a way of escape if needed. More often than not, I have people on all sides though. When standing without the aid of chairs defining personal space, I start to feel a little weak in the knees. I count myself lucky that I have not taken a tumble in one of these scenarios yet.
I even struggle with tight spaces in my home. When the entire Freeman clan gathers for lunch, there are normally ten people around the table. After lunch, everyone crowds into the living room. I find myself escaping to other areas of the house throughout the event to simply breathe. Sometimes my family has mistaken my exit as a sign that they have upset me by something they have said; the reality is that I'm trying to regain control of an uncomfortable situation.
Sometimes visits last longer than just an afternoon and can stretch into days at a time. That's just part of family life, I suppose. Even though I truly love my family, these extended visits are very stressful for me. It feels as though the only place I can find some quiet time is in the bathroom. (My small bathroom tends to trigger another of my phobias in these escape scenes - claustrophobia. Now you know just how messed up I really am!) I feel that I've won a small victory when I haven't flipped out during one of these extended visits. I hate to admit it, but I always breathe a sigh of relief every time my living situation returns to normal with just me and the geriatric patients.