Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Peering Over the Brink

This is the last full day, before my sons start school. We've designated it as a Do Whatever You Want Day, which means lots of video game time for them, and resultant free time for me. Free time to, I dunno, maybe catch up on my poor, neglected blog or something?

I don't really have any new art to show. I've been a little blocked, and not just in art, but in general. I am finding it hard to reach out to friends, to write, to dream, to think, to share.

What has been coming easy? Entertainment and distraction. True Blood, Mad Men, movies, books (currently Catch 22), my Sims legacy (generation 9!), cooking, food blogs, wasting way too much time researching things like which stick blender to buy, obsessing over details, and following shiny objects. My boys, always my boys. Getting ready for the school year is a legitimate purpose, but the busy allows me to remain distracted...not to talk or even think too much about what is really on my mind this summer.

Even writing this now is hard. But I can't stay so far away from the now much longer. I have to be present to be creative...to feel like myself.

Anxiety is hunting me again. It is hard on my heels, and I am failing in the chase.

There's a lot of worries I feel like I can handle...the boys' health (anaphylaxis and severe environmental allergies) and well being (AS, ADHD, GAD, OCD...these are the letters of our lives), a thousand doctors, therapists, social workers to juggle, concerns about money, a leaking window, a seemingly contagious rash of appliance breakdowns, an error in taxes, my own health concerns...etc. These I manage, sometimes well, and sometimes like Lucy in the candy factory, I struggle to keep up, have to stuff a few down my dress and in my hat, and life gets pretty frantic, but it's OK. I do OK.

But then there are those things that suddenly tip me right over the edge...into the abyss, into fear's waiting grip. I don't even have a chance to try to cope and juggle. I am simply overcome. Distraction is my mechanism for such things and such times. I can pretend that I am not a rabbit in a trap, with Anxiety approaching...I am Sookie or Samwise or Anthony Bourdain. Or better yet, I am Scarlett O'Hara, refusing to think about that today or I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.

When my husband fell and broke his foot at the beginning of summer, it was the cause of the fall that was the most troubling part. He passed out for no reason. And then it happened again...and again. Many doctor's appointments, tests etc. over the past 2 months, but still no answers. They think it's his heart.

It's not surprising that the thought of the loss of him, would be one of those precipice falling things, but I seem to not be able to keep myself from taking it even further. I get disproportionately worried about him. I swear, he sneezes and my heart jumps into my throat. His flight is a little late and I can hardly breathe until I hear his key in the door. So to have a legitimate worry about his health and well being, brings me swiftly past the brink.

The first morning of our honeymoon, I woke up in fear. An ominous feeling I just couldn't shake. It took me a while to put my finger on what it was. For the first time in my life, I had something to lose, something that actually belonged to me but was outside of myself. It was with him, that for the first time I experienced "home", that magical word, that thing I had wanted more than anything in the world...someone there, who was waiting and wanted you, safety and peace and most of all love. Love that was alive itself, ever-changing, supple and vital, always growing from roots twined right into who we were and would become. It was a thing beyond what I had dared to hope for, all mine and his, that no one could take away or fuck up, except for ourselves...and death.

*Suddenly the reckless young girl was full of fear. She grew cautious and oh, so protective.*
We took vitamins and drank green tea and quit smoking. I got angry about drunk driving, and companies who dumped toxic crap in the water. Didn't they know how fragile and short and precious life is? Of course, having children widened that circle of love and responsibility, and exponentially heightened the sense of risk. Every parent knows that blissful and crushing moment when you hold that impossibly frail little life you have helped to create in your own insubstantial arms. But the children will (God willing) grow up and away, with lives and loves of their own. In the end it will be just me (that is simply the way it is). But if I am lucky, very, very lucky, it will be him and I for a long time first.

But how many years would ever be enough?

And how will I find the strength to let go when I finally, inevitably have to either leave or be left?

I have often wondered if one can love too much. *I flinch and quail and look fearfully at the sky, waiting for the harsh stroke from the jealous gods* But I can't do this in proportion. I am crazy about him.

Perhaps it is better just not to think of these things. There are no answers that aren't trite or unsatisfactory or just too hard. But I can at least unblock myself by admitting the fear that has hunted me this summer. I just want him to be well. I want tests that show something conclusively, and Dr.s who can fix it with a flick of their prescription pads, a cessation of suspense and worry, and while we're at it, a holiday, a new fridge, a makeover and a pony. For now, I guess I will just settle for the unblocking, so that I am not too busy distracting myself to appreciate this one particular day...which is...after all...as we all know...all we really have.

I hesitate to post this...not because I mind baring what is true, or admitting fear. I know I am in good company with other strong women, who can talk unhappiness, fear, and neurosis and draw new strength from the sharing. (my gerds come to mind, and the stirringly beautiful honesty of Maggie May at Flux Capacitor) But I hesitate to post, because I don't particularly want sympathy. I don't want to feel like I am fishing for condolence and comfort. Everyone has fears and troubles as profound (if they care to admit it). I am not unique in this. I don't need to feel unique in this, by accepting sympathy for the common human condition...mortality and the fear thereof. And I don't need the well meant platitudes of "he'll be OK", "I am sure it's nothing" etc. I already tell myself all this every day.
I just wanted to say what scares me...what scares me bad, thereby draining it of a little of its power for a bit, because I needed to go deeper than distraction today. I needed to lift up the bedskirt and take a look at the monster hiding there, maybe even invite him out for a cup of tea and make some art with him, before sweeping him back under there to haunt my dreams another day. But please, no sympathy. I'd rather hear what scares you? What are you afraid to lose? Which is the fear that tips you over the brink of handling-ablity?


  1. Geeze Louise E! We are cut from the same cloth with the same raggedy scissors. I'm overcome by your post. Your honesty. Grateful that you share and lighten all our loads, proud to know someone so open and complicated and articulate about this thing called life we're trying to navigate without going crazy. Knowing there is nothing I can say, or do except be here and listen. I hear you, and boy oh boy do I understand.
    My fear is that my heart will give out and I will not be here to help my kids navigate this crazy world. That I will not see them become. Hold my grandchildren. Forget my memories. Fail to embrace the day. I could write for hours.
    From the moment I met my husband I felt safe. From the moment I had my babies I felt afraid.
    From the moment my body began to betray me and my mind play tricks on me I felt panic.
    I don't want to be a train wreck. I'm afraid of getting everything wrong when I tried too hard to get everything right.
    I hide in my books and my tv - True Blood is a serious addiction - serious. Well, I could go on, but I've got to process all this and I'm so glad you didn't hit the delete button.
    And fuck sympathy. What a waste. I'm just hoping for you, that's all.

  2. Oh E. Tears are spilling off my cheeks and splattering all over my keyboard. Big fat tears of love and appreciation. That paragraph about the day after your honeymoon?..."Love that was alive itself, ever-changing, supple and vital, always growing from roots twined right into who we were and would become." God. You know I am in love right now, and this paragraph was nearly too much for me, simply because it is so true and so recognizable and just so. fucking. beautiful.

    My biggest fear is that I will never live up to my life’s fullest potential. Also, I fear that I will spend my whole life wishing it away/never apprecaiting what I have and b) never having a kind of love that you and DH have. Just to name a few.

    God Bless You. I mean it. You take my breath away.

  3. "The first morning of our honeymoon, I woke up in fear. An ominous feeling I just couldn't shake. It took me a while to put my finger on what it was. For the first time in my life, I had something to lose, something that actually belonged to me but was outside of myself."

    Instant tears of recognition. All I have to do to make myself cry is think of something happening to Devin. My revelation at the beginning of our relationship was that I was no longer as independent, in some ways - I went off on a trip to the Caribbean, and I ~missed~ him. I had never actually missed anyone like that before. When he is not around, I miss him. I didn't want to anything without him, though that is getting a bit better now.

    It was an odd kind of dependence for someone who had always been so independent. Being alone/on my own has never held any fear for me - it meant freedom. Only me. Except now... I don't want to do anything without him. And I fear losing him, and when we are apart I, too, worry about something happening.

    Nothing is free - the price of loving someone that much is an equal amount of dependence, fear, worry... but luckily, those less happy feelings don't come all the time, but they make up for that in intensity when they do show up. Maybe if we can remember ~why~ we feel those things, we can be more accepting of them, softening their edge. That's the trick, though, isn't it? Remembering. Remembering the balance of life, remembering the highs when we are in the lows, and having the comforting faith that they do balance, eventually.

    Here's a homey idea: tie a sprig of rosemary somewhere, and when you are sad and fearful, "rosemary for remembrance" - crush a little and enjoy the aroma, and let it remind you of love and joy and gratitude.

    I can't wait until I can plant some rosemary in my garden! (I can't wait until I ~have~ a garden!)

    Maggie (aka NatureGeek)

  4. You guys are the awesome. You make me cry (in the good way). Thank you, thank you so much for sharing and being here.

  5. i'm glad you faced the fear of posting this by facing the fear of the aftermath. sword in one hand, shield in the other. well said, well put, well done.

  6. wow. no sympathy here, perhaps some camaraderie, and a lot of thanks for sharing, but no poor E. I don't like sympathy either, but well wishes and understanding sentiments are always welcome. I'm so glad you felt the need to open up about your worries, your anxieties. It really does help those of us who suffer the same battles from time to time.

    My anxiety won today. For the first time in a long time. I was such a mess when I awoke this morning that i burst into tears when i got in the car with the bub. I had to get out and come back in the car. There was no way I ws making it to work, let alone even functioning when i get there. The ride away from the house seemed like to much at that point. So I got out and came bac in. He just looked at me, like I was crazy, again. He has been so understanding but can be a bit of a know it all, so his reactions sometime come off as angry or unsympathetic. I know this. But it still upsets me and makes me feel like such a failure at life. He told me to call the Panic Disorders group he had found at the local mental hospital here, which i plan on doing today, but it feels like such a ... i don't even know, such a step back, so scary. I truly hate my brain.

    I know you get this E, as the stupid anxiety fairie seems to be hanging out at your house too. I hate that. I want us all to be better, but what would that even mean? We wouldn't worry? We wouldn't care as much? Who will I even be without this anxiety? I've carried it around all my life, so who am I without it? Does that even make sense? I guess I'm just trying to figure out if it's even possible to Be without the anxiety. I mean, I can't even visualize a life without it. My entire life has revovled around assessing situations for fear. How do I just shut that off? Yah. SO that's what's going on in this particular head this morning. Almost uncanny that you would post this, here, now. Thanks so much for sharing it. You are not alone. That in itself is what gives me comfort on mornings of sheer terror, like today. Sigh. Big deep breath. Phew.

    Without trying to sound sympathetic, I do hope that some of DH's health issues are brought to light so you can DEAL with them in some sort of way that brings you some comfort. The unknown is what scares the living daylights out of me, so hopefully having a few answers (fingers crossed) can help you to breathe a bit deeped in the middle of the night when your mind runs away with all the fear. Hugs and Hugs.

    And how awesome is all the support and advice in the above comments? Maggie (NG!) I love the rosemary idea for remembrance. I need some now!!!

    Love you, guys.

  7. yah. lots of typos above. One, I had to go back into the HOUSE, not the car. YAY for fast typing.. not.

  8. Regarding mental health and panic disorders... and just life in general, I heard a great quote:

    In the 60's we took acid to make the world seem weird,
    Now the world IS weird and we take Prozac to make it seem normal!

    omg - so true! I'm one of the only people I know *not* on Prozac (or Wellbutrin, Xanax, or other type of meds), so I'm kind of an oddball in a weird way. I was at a friends wedding a while back and someone made a toast to Prozac - haha. But it's true - most of my best friends are medicated in some way - I guess I like interesting artsy creative types who pay so much attention to this crazy world they often have trouble coping... I'm not sure how else to put that, but so many of my friends are that way - I guess I value their perspectives, their wonderfully skewed view of the world - it's like appreciating the Aspie thing - unique, interesting, slightly off-kilter people are such treasures in my life!

  9. my fear is of success. of choosing my choice. of being behind it.

  10. Keeley, you are awesome.
    "My entire life has revolved around assessing situations for fear."
    I get that. I so get that. I have often wondered what it would be like if I could just go and get all the anxiety hypnotized right outta me, or something. But who exactly would I be?
    I hope your week got better, and yes, boo for sympathy (well, no, it has its place, of course). But I was trying to explain the other day, how it seems to be such a divisive stand point in a way. Like standing on the other side of the glass and saying, "ugh, how horrible for YOU", instead of standing side by side and saying, "me too". Me or him, or her, or all of us together...we fear, we fail, we lose, we mourn, maybe not in the exactly same way, but in humanity we are the same.

  11. And I agree Maggie! All the best people I know, are indeed, at least a little broken. ;)

  12. oh, darn. I click here and it's dinnertime. But i wanna read! and look at all those comments. I miss my online life and feel deprived. I'll be back soon!

  13. back. wow.

    it's scary to think about what am i afraid of, i mean besides spiders and snakes, i am afraid of not being able to support myself financially, of someday seriously regretting not having children, of being needy and suffocating, of not being able to make friends in real life, of never really connecting with people in a meaningful way. I'm not afraid of being alone, but I am afraid of being without my GF -- 22 years together, what IF something happened? unbearable to even consider... no no i can't think about that. where's thre remote control, there must be something on tv.

  14. Thank you for sharing FoM. It helps somehow, doesn't it? Just to say it out loud...and then of course, to proceed quickly back to the distraction. I like the book and internet/ TV and internet combo...then I am double-covered. ;)

    And congrats on 22 years! The DH and I just passed 14. Time flies when you are having fun. :)


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