|And it makes me smile, yeah it makes me smiiiile...|
When I was 11, and my mom and I found my dad unconscious in the shower, I knew it was an emergency. I didn't recognize it as a suicide attempt then, or even much later. But I knew we had to act quickly.
My mom froze, and I told her to call 911.
I was, she said later, good in a crisis. I was proud of knowing I could keep a cool head in an emergency.
I fell apart in quiet, unobtrusive ways after that--forgetting my homework day after day, for example. But I didn't get in trouble, because I was a good student, and a friendly, compliant one. I just couldn't remember anything.
Nobody thought that I might need help.
I had just started college when my dad attempted a second time. So I wasn't there to handle the crisis. We didn't even talk about it. I coped by crying a lot, gaining 40 pounds, and grinding my teeth.
We all thought we were fine. Moving to the US and starting college is hard. Girls all gain the freshman 15, don't they?
Thirteen years later, my mom called me at 7:00 am on a Sunday, and immediately I knew that Dad had disappeared. Had I subconsciously been waiting every day for this? I think probably.
I know every day after that I was. Every day until he died, a decade later.
But each time, I knew exactly what to do. I didn't cry, and I didn't freeze. I called the police, talked to them when they showed up, drove to the scene or to the ER. I got very cold, because that's what happens when I'm extremely upset. My body goes cold, sometimes to the point where I shake.
Does this happen to anyone else?
But I would deal with it and then fall apart later.
But chronicling my dad's numerous suicide attempts is not my point here. Or maybe it is. Clearly I've been thinking through it.
But I think what I'm doing is reassuring myself that if the worst happens, I will do a good job. Unless I'm the one who gets sick, and can't help my family, which is also a fear of mine.
I should probably burn my mortifying early-20s angst-ridden journals in case that happens.
So, I just learned a new term: anticipatory anxiety.
My friend Kate, who works in a clinic and has comorbidities that put her at risk, mentioned anticipatory anxiety. She's fine when something bad actually happens. She's calm and functional in the moment.
But in the lead-up, anticipating the worst, she's extremely anxious.
And I would say this perfectly describes my reaction. I am so very anxious about us getting sick. As I said, I'm terrified of my mom getting C19.
(And when I say C19 out loud in my head I think of either Hey 19 by Steely Dan or 319 by Prince. Take off your clothes, C19!)
I know that we are in a lucky position, and I feel grateful for all we have. I feel fearful for so many who have no reserves, who are living out in the open, who are fleeing war and have their babies with them and are in crowded conditions with little to no access to care.
My heart hurts for so many people on a regular basis. And then when you slather the threat of C19 on top of that, it crushes me.
When I am upset for a sustained period of time, I get exhausted. Does this happen to you?
In fact, I gave myself a timeout because my kids were flattening me with the MAMAMAMAMAMAMAMAMA. So while they're entertaining themselves and nobody is saying MAMA, I might just curl up and take a nap.
This triggers my Catholic guilt, even though we only went to Mass regularly for a couple years and I was never an actual Catholic, but I am so very tired.
Love and hugs,