an overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs, by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
Hey there, old friend. How HAVE you been? Well, you should know. You’ve popped up in my shower again this morning, and over my cup of coffee. You’ve reminded me so about so many pressing issues this week that demand my immediate attention.
This morning I DID remember to press the grounding button on the hair dryer, as you taught me to do all these years. The odds continue to be low for my house spontaneously combusting into flames due to this little step. Thanks for that.
I DID, in fact, remember to pay for my child’s lunches for the next month. He will not go hungry like I did when I was young. He has new clothes that I didn’t need to buy from a second-hand store. Thanks for that.
Midday, I managed to hide that I jumped a mile, no thanks to you, that a guy walked up behind me while I was walking back from lunch down the sidewalk with a friend. Convinced that he was my rapist, looked to the side… it was not. Continued talking about Brene Brown as if nothing had happened while trying to see if my heart was physically breaking out of my chest. It was not, but my memories were. Fast-forwarding through my brain were pictures of stairwells and crinkly paper, and polaroids and courtrooms and gavels and I could feel my ventricles pulsing lava so hot I swear I could see it coming out through my skin. Thanks for that.
Sat in therapy five minutes later trying to explain why I couldn’t sit in therapy today. Sat there for 40 minutes too long out of obligation because I was anxious I was I wasting her time. Felt like I was going to throw up because of the rapist I didn’t see on the sidewalk. Thanks for that.
Left 20 minutes early from therapy today. Drove three blocks, pulled over on the freeway, had a panic attack and threw up. Feel like a failure for leaving the one place I’m supposed to go to deal with anxiety. Recognize the irony in this, feel like a failure for feeling like a failure. Laugh a bit about this. Cry a lot about this. Thanks for that.
Came home to the one place that feels safe, where my husband accidentally left the closet door open. He knows not to do this because then someone could be hiding behind the door in my head. I stop and look at the door, wondering… am I safer inside or outside. Am stuck in indecision. Since I can’t move, I decide that the hallway is where I will stay for the next half an hour, having a stare-down with the door. Decide that the only breathing I hear is my own. Kick open the door. The only male clothes I see are my husband’s shirts. Feel ridiculous. You make me feel absurd, anxiety. Thanks for that.
I have a pill that I CAN take to quiet your voice, but rarely do because it just dulls it like cotton balls in my ears. That is to say, I still hear the fuzzy voice of you as it just gives me a false sense of ease. Really, you just are on vacation where you have a good time and I just live a bit more like the rest of the people do for a few hours. Or I fall into a fitful slumber where my dreams are full of running up the unending sidewalk that leads to the perfect house that is safe from everything that has ever chased me. But then I awake from the dream that never existed when you tire of being away, you come back, a little at a time until you hit me across the face with trepidation as you move right back into my soul. Thanks for that.
Hear the keys in the door, wipe my tears and know that I need to pull myself together. I put on the wife eyeliner the mother hoodie and the human smile and jump into my life jeans. Because I have to operate at least at a normal level to keep this thing afloat, this facade of commonplace. I’ve tried so hard to keep it together. Or at least let it fall apart in my guest room, not in the waiting room. Know your place, get it together. I’ve made it so long since someone has SEEN me fall off the balance beam of my emotional well-being. I’m supposed to be better than this. Thanks for that.