Who is in charge of the volume?

Halloween may not be a holiday I’ve ever really paid much attention to, but it felt like there was something spooky in the air today.

Just a normal day, bobbing along quite happily. Talking, working, laughing, over here, over there: happy enough. And then, with the flick of a switch, the levels in my brain go into meltdown.

The person standing right there in front of me may as well be whispering their half of the conversation from a hill top several miles away for all I care. I can see their mouth move, I can hear their noise, I just can’t process a word they’re saying. Nada, nothing.

It’s you there, in the corner or in the next room who I can hear. Your judgement, contempt, dislike seeps out of you like juices from a turkey. (We started with Halloween, why not add Thanksgiving? And I’m not even American…) You nag and laugh at me. You question everything I’m doing. You make me incompetent, nervous and sad. And I hate you for it.

It stops as quickly as it started. The levels level. The noise balances. You are you again. The person I know, maybe like, maybe don’t. The person whose opinion shouldn’t make one ounce of difference to how I behave. The person I have no right to presume anything about, least of all your opinion of me.

A deep breath and a mindful second: Anxiety makes you think you can read minds. It makes you think you know what everyone else must be thinking. But it’s not in charge of the volume, the innocent bystander you vilify is not in charge of the volume. I am.

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