Anxiety doesn’t know that the kids are excited for Christmas, and it doesn’t give a shit that you have a million things to do. It pops up unexpectedly like a jack in the box without the lyrical cues.
Last night I texted my dad asking what time he and my mom were planning to come over today. It was 9pm, so of course I was texting from bed. I played a few games on my phone, went to turn out the light, and saw the clock–9:40.
My dad always replies and he goes to bed later than I do. So I did want any sane person would do. Various scenarios of them dead began to play in my head.
They have been having some remodeling work done on the house, so of course one of the workers broke in, robbed them and bludgeoned them to death in the process. The scene was gruesome. The police came and carted them off to the morgue and I was called to identify them. I would have Bill stay with the kids and tell them I just had to run an errand. I would get there and the drape would be pulled back and I would see their swollen faces.
What would I tell the kids? Not the truth because they would be afraid of the same thing happening at our house. It would have to be an accident of some sort until they could understand when they were older. Would my brother be able to get a flight home? Probably not right away because it would be Christmas Eve.
And we’d have to postpone Christmas. I would have to take weeks off of work for the trial because I would want to know every single detail of the case. Which prosecutor would take the case?
What would happen after? I’m not ready to lose my parents. They are finally enjoying the retirement they worked so hard for. It’s so fucking unfair!
STOP THIS SHIT
Finally, my other brain breaks through.
My conscious self says, This is bullshit. You are tired, stressed and overwhelmed and are vulnerable to this crap.
You need to STOP. Right now.
I take a deep breath. Notice my heart beating visibly through my T-shirt. Feel tears release from the corners of my eyes. Unclench my fists and feel the divots from my fingernails. Ginger stares at me.
I remind myself where I am. Concentrate on the weight of the sheets and blankets. The breeze from the fan.
I tell myself they are probably watching a movie. The phone is on vibrate. They are talking to my brother.
Sometimes after an episode, I feel really stupid. Ashamed. Weak.
Sometimes after an episode, I feel confused. Shaken. Weak.
I scooch over to Ginger, pressing my leg against her body and feel calmer.
I look at the clock.
I love the holidays. But sometimes it’s hard. And sometimes it’s hard for different reasons. I’ll have my mental armor on tonight, and will wear it for the next several days.
Just in case.
If you’re struggling, you’re not alone.
If you think you have everything handled, and you’re good, and then suddenly something happens and you’re not, it’s ok.
You can get through it. We can get through it.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Be sure to give yourself some love, patience and care.