One day I fell. Hard. I couldn’t get back up because as I laid there in complete and total confusion and despair, I had no way of knowing which way was up. The world hadn’t spun, it simply twisted behind its facade. On the surface all was as it always had been: people went to work and the store, they played outside with their pets and children, they ate laughed, drank, cried, and loved. But as I finally stood, slowly so as to hide my wobbling knees, looking around attenuating myself to this new existence, it became clear that the shock waves had damaged the foundation of things. All around was the sound of familiar voices hitting notes I had never heard before, people moving in much more ways to ponder, and most of all eyes lingering on me more puzzled than ever.
As social beings, we are naturally inclined to react to other people. Growing up, we are conditioned on how to behave towards people as well as how to read the basics of communication, yet there is still so much for which our vocabulary is heavily insufficient to explain. Often people apply all the right rules and following all the social back and forths only to be further away from others than they were when they were strangers. In all manner of capacity, the cultural social cues should have been enough, but more often than not, they fail us. In all honesty, human connection is one of the least understood aspects of life, cognitively speaking. There is no explanation for subtleties affecting why certain people are great friends yet others can’t stand the mere mention of one anothers’ names. In reality it isn’t the social banter that it important, it is how others make you feel. There are some of us who are quite sensitive to how other people affect us, meaning our internal reaction to someone’s presence drives whether or not we bother to make contact or continue on with mindless social exercises. There are many different ways that people make me feel. Some more pleasant than others. One feeling in particular is horribly annoying: the allergic reaction.
Like any allergy, it take a few interactions with a person to realize that I am allergic to them. Once the allergy is full blown, my immune system switches my brain into self preservation mode. All energy goes into getting as far away from the person as possible. My vision narrows so that my brain can focus solely on escape routes as well as be unable to make clear eye contact. My vocal cords tighten to only allow out desperate cries for freedom. My sinuses tighten so my nervous system can be ready to produce tears in case I really need to show someone how serious I am. I instinctively want to curl up into a ball by hugging my knees to keep the individual from thinking that I am open to their presence.
I know this is an allergic reaction because once the allergen is gone, I feel relieved that I am able to act normal again. Like any in any other allergy situation, the best thing for my health is to avoid the allergens, so I do…and guess what?!?!? I’ve been allergy symptom free! 🙂