We all have something we’re afraid of. You know, things like spiders, snakes… old people. My phobia ad stupidum just happens to be the grocery store. You may be thinking, “how could you possibly be afraid of the grocery store?” The answer is simple and like most things in my life, I blame my mother.
Growing up, like most kids, I usually went with my mom to the super market. I’d be excited to sneak whatever sugar saturated hyper fuel I could find into the cart when she wasn’t looking, bonus points if it turned my mouth blue. Oh yeah and free samples (!!!) Everything was good until she’d ask me to go get bread or yogurt or something on the complete opposite end of the store.
It was never a straight shot to the aisle I needed to go to. No, I’d stop and grab everything but what I had actually set out to. Whatever my little arms could carry: swirly straws, 2-liter sodas, pop tarts, a giant inflatable ball because it was pink and I loved pink, duh. By the time I actually got what I needed, I was balancing a solid twenty pounds of crap. And then it was time to find mom and the cart.
The problem was that my mom was never anywhere to be found! I’d walk up and down the aisles, back and forth and back and forth in a five minute eternity of wondering where she went, why she left me, how long it would take to walk home, if I even still had a home, all the while sweating and trying not to drop my Future-Fat-Kid-of-America Supply Kit. And then just as I was ready to plop down on the cold tile floor and cry, I would spot her.
She would obviously have zero clue of the turmoil I had just endured going to get that loaf of bread. NO CLUE. And when I’d go to put everything in the cart she’d look at all the extras I had accumulated and just say, “Madison, no” and I’d have to go put it all back. (Which meant dumping it all on a random bottom shelf for fear of losing my mom yet again.) This happened dozens of times. I swear she started doing it on purpose.
I’m 25 now and am still hit with a wave of anxiety every time I enter a grocery store, even though I’m usually by myself and have my own means of transportation. Whenever I get there all I want to do is get out of there before I get lost and never find my way out and have to cry myself to sleep on top of some Angel Soft.
The first step is admitting it right? Fuck, I hope so. Takeout is expensive.