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Costco-Related Anxiety Problem

Before you ask me why we go to Costco if it gives me such anxiety spasms, just know that 1) we live in the suburbs and have a pantry, 2) we got the impression we couldn't be proper adults if we didn't, and 3) usually my husband goes (he does not suffer from C.R.A.P.)

Robb is in China and I was completely out of coffee. I generally like to order my coffee from small businesses; specifically this one, but I've been writing a lot lately, so I needed a big ol' bag o' beans. Plus we were out of some other staples.

I thought I'd be brave. Not quite brave enough to go by myself, but brave enough to wait until my kid was home from school and had their snack and watched some Futurama, then beg them to come with me to hold my hand. Therefore, at 5:37pm, we arrived at the megamart to buy an oversized cart full of oversized things. We had to park in the back of the extra parking. Not quite Christmas-shopping-take-a-shuttle-from-a-remote-location-far, but far. Obviously, 5:37pm is exactly when everyone leaves work, picks up their famished, exhausted toddlers, and arrives to shop. I'm pretty sure each kid was crying enough for two. PLUS, it was a weeknight and there's a pandemic creeping in the shadows, so there were no samples of teeny weenies or cheese cubes.

I do not understand this place. I'll start with that. The rules mystify me. It's always like a fire sale on Black Friday. No one pays attention to where they're walking, much less cares where I'm walking. It seems like in normal marts, there is some consideration of shopping etiquette, like staying on your side of the aisle, or being mindful of other people. Not Costco! It's fucking anarchy! Everyone just walks backwards and upside down and through each other.

If you do make it to an item you want to purchase, somehow managing to reach over all the bodies, it's super fucking heavy and cumbersome! Because seventy-pounds of pasta is heavy. Also, I'm not sure I actually do need one-thousand of everything I buy. Oreos? Obviously. But a three-pack of grand pianos?

I wasn't actually at war. No one was chasing me. My life wasn't really in danger...but my body didn't know any of that. I had pretty close to a panic attack. Like, dry mouth, hearing my heartbeat in my ears, having to stop to catch my was intense. Days later, I am recalling the feelings in my body as I write this. And, of course, it can also be embarrassing, because going grocery shopping shouldn't be something that elicits that kind of reaction. I should be able to manage myself (and my kid, and my huge-ass cart) in that moment, but for me, this was terrifying. Anxiety is a tricky dame, because I've done some things in my life that other people would find pretty scary. I have ridden race horses. I've gotten (3, as of this week!) tattoos. I've helped perform thousands of surgeries. I've lead death and dying conversations a LOT. I've published online. I've sang publicly in bars. I've performed plays on stage. I've been on podcasts. I write about the worst moments of my life. Etc, etc, etc.

And yet. This is a trigger for me. So, instead of getting angry and reactive, I admitted how hard it was for me. Thankfully, my 9 y/o is a gorgeous little soul and swung right into caring mode to help me through it. They also have anxiety, and they kept saying that they like it when I admit when I'm struggling and ask for help. So among the 40-gallon jugs of olives and pallets of coffins, we found some connection with each other.

And I survived. I didn't run anyone over, leave without my stuff, yell, or go fetal. I DID go home and take care of my self in a big way with water and tea and rest and quiet time and mindless TV (re-binging Psych for the 10th time), and insisted on helping unpacking all the groceries we bought. I'm also feeling grateful that I didn't get so mad at myself for the anxiety that I made it worse with shame. That's something I've done a lot- adding bad feelings TO the bad feelings. This time, I just road it out and we all survived.

So, lessons learned, non-crisis averted. But honestly- fuck that place so much. Robb comes back tonight and I'm going to tell him that he's on the hook for all the paper towel we need for the rest of our lives. I cannot handle that C.R.A.P.


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1 Comment

Sep 23, 2023

I introduced my sweetie to Costco 2 years ago. She doesn’t love it but seems to manage any anxiety. And I get it - there are bargains but you have to think about what you can really use before it goes bad. And where you will store it!

my advice (even though you didn’t ask) is to feel fine going to a regular store when you have to. The savings isn’t worth the anxiety.

that’s true for so many things in life…..

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