The Pendulum Swings

Yesterday was…awful.

Mom called in the morning while I was at work, & told me that Dad’s best friend had passed away. This man was someone I’ve known for practically my whole life. His daughter & I were best friends and nearly inseparable from kindergarten through 5th grade. (The following summer of 1981 we moved to ND)

He and his wife were like second parents to me, as I spent almost as much time at their house as I did my own.

But, he was also the father of the boy who molested me when I was a teenager.

After Mom told me of his passing, I attempted to go back to work at my desk, but couldn’t concentrate. My head felt heavy, & I could hear a buzzing, ringing, in my ears as everything else around me started to fade out.

Then, the panic attack began.

I told my supervisor I had to go home, & bolted from the office before I went into full-meltdown mode. I didn’t want them to see me like that, couldn’t let them see me like that.

It was my worst panic attack yet, save one I had while separated from my first ex (whole other story). 

Tears rolled down my face the whole drive home, but I held my shit together till I got in my front door.

Then – game over.

If you’ve never had a real, full-blown panic attack…you have no idea how frightening one is. I hope you never have to experience it, because it’s…well…I’ll try to describe it.

As soon as my front door closed, the trembling started. I’m not talking about just “feeling shaky”. I’m talking – my whole body went into earthquake mode.  Someone just watching would have probably thought I was having a seizure, or that I’d just gotten out of ice-cold water, I shook so violently. I had to sit to take my shoes off, & struggled with the zippers because I couldn’t keep my fingers still long enough to grasp them.

The cold set in. My house is generally warm, as I can’t abide being cold. I usually have the heat set at 76. But, yesterday, I couldn’t get warm. I wrapped one of my fleece blankets around me as I stumbled through the house to the fridge for my water, & it still wasn’t enough to warm me up. It took 2 blankets & my 2 cats (curled up with me in the chair) to finally warm me.

After taking another dose of my anti-anxiety meds to try to quell the panic attack, it went to the next level. Hyperventilating.

I almost blacked out, so it’s a good thing I was already in my chair when this hit. It dragged on for what seemed like forever, swinging between hyperventilating & hitching sobs. Coupled with the shaking trembles, it most likely would have looked like a grand mal seizure. 

Finally, the meds started to kick in, after interminable seeming hours, and I started to calm. It was most likely just a handful of minutes, but time stretches out unceasingly when in a panic attack, your brain screams fight or flight!! And there seems to be no end, no exit, no rescue. 

And when you’re dealing with this alone, with no one there to comfort you, there’s no surcease of the pain until your body, quite literally, shuts down. The adrenaline of the attack does eventually run out. It has to.

But when you’re panicking, it doesn’t feel that way.

When you’re in PA mode, all you know, all you see, is the black, horrific, panic. It’s a heart attack, stroke, earthquake, flood & mental apocalypse, all rolled inside of your head & body.

It, quite literally, feels like the end, while you’re in it. Logic has no place there. None. It’s not a matter of “just breathe, you’ll be fine”.

You can’t “just breathe”, when every breath has to be fought for.

You can’t “just calm down”, when your heart is racing so fast you feel like a jet engine is going to bust through your chest.

For me, tunnel vision set in, & all I could see was whatever was directly in front of my eyes, but my brain wasn’t truly processing even that. It was in overload.

Once the attack finally crested, & I started to come down, it was like falling off a cliff.

I crashed. 

I slept, weighted under 2 blankets & 2 cats, it was more like falling into a coma, in that I didn’t dream at all. It was just – black sleep.

Today, I am out of PA mode. My anxiety is still very high, but I’m watching it. Keeping quiet, avoiding going out, & taking meds as needed. 

For those of you who do have anxiety & have experienced PA, you know the aftercare, & what I’ve been through. I know another attack could happen, so I’m being careful. Doing all the things I do to relax, soothe & comfort. Reading, to keep my brain occupied on something other than the situation. Wearing my comfort clothes to feel good against my skin. Burning candles and/or incense as needed to use aromatherapy to soothe. Staying away from caffeine, as that can trigger another attack while in heightened stress moments.

And blogging. This helps me, almost as much as the meds. Because this is my emotional outlet, my “scream into the black” of the internet. My way of getting the words out of my head, onto the “page”, & away from my emotional distress.

The worst has passed, and I’m still here…but the pendulum swings. And the moments are tentative & tenderly susceptible to another PA. Hang on, we’re not out of the woods entirely, yet.

Tremble

Anxiety has been so bad tonight. It’s been bad for the last couple of weeks.

But not to look at me.

If you just look, I am normal – smiling, joking, & getting along, doing my work, handling my business…

This is the face of anxiety.

But…

Take another look at the eyes.

Take a good look.

There’s tension there.

There’s a twitch, just there in the corner of one eye, constantly fluttering.

There’s a tightness around the eyes, pulling at the edges, headache darting between the brows.

The smile looks almost real, though, doesn’t it?

Slightly wilted, tired, resigned.

But it fools the masses.

And makes sure that no one notices the trembles.

The hint of vibration that never leaves.

My body is wound so tightly I feel like an over-tuned violin, ready to snap as soon as the bow draws across it the first time.

And this – is the face after the crash.

The face that no one sees.

The worry drawn tight over the brow.

The grief and guilt filling in the mouth.

The resignation that smears the vision.

Knowing it’s just a matter of time before the other shoe drops.

Nobody gets to see this face if I can help it.

It shatters the illusion that everything works. That I’m Ok, all lights green across the board, engines full and running at capacity.

This is the face after the mask comes off.

I’m tired of hiding, of pretending. I’m tired of everyone thinking that anxiety is just a random worry.

It’s not.

It’s real, it’s painful, it’s constant & it’s not something I can be rid of just by “calming down”.

I take medication every day to control the worst of it, or I probably wouldn’t be able to function.

This- is my reality.

It’s not the whole of who I am.

But it is real.

And that’s what I’m here, blogging for.

To be in one place where I can be real.

My nephew and I talk honestly to each other all the time. We don’t pull our words back, because we don’t have to. 

But there are times when I need to see the words in front of me, splayed out like a bloody corpse, flayed, raw & bleeding all over the page.

Therapy at it’s deepest level.

Minus the shiny buckles on the strapped jacket.

Some Days I Want To Die

Because somedays I don’t see the point of being here, anymore, and my brain lies to me and tells me that- I’m really not making a difference in any way, and that, while my family (chosen family included) would miss me, sure, they’d learn to live with it, & it’s not like I really make a difference there, either.

Yes, I know these are lies my brain tells me when I’m depressed. And I’d never suicide, because I know how horrible that is for those left behind, but the depression still holds me down, head under water, emotionally, until I feel as though one long nap would be the end of it, & it could be peaceful & less noisy, & very little mess. 

It’s the same as the lies my brain tells me when it fills me with anxiety about anything and everything it can dredge up out of the depths of my id. 
Don’t go out, something will happen, & you’ll end up embarrassed, or hurt, or made fun of, & then you’ll just want to curl up & cry. Stay home where nothing can hurt you.  This kind of thing never ends well for you, anyway.

Oh, and remember that thing you said to that person? How stupid was that? You would’ve done much better to say…this. Or to just keep your stupid mouth shut, cause then stupid wouldn’t fall out of it.

And did you hear what that woman at work said to you today? Oh, you thought it was a nice compliment? Really? Did you really hear what she said & the look on her face & the tone of her voice & how she was talking to one of the other women later & just…stopped…talking when you walked by? Yeah…let’s discuss this some more, shall we?

And remember that thing you did 5 years ago? Let’s dissect that into all its tiniest meanings over the next 7 hours while you’re pretending to sleep. Oh? You weren’t pretending, you were actually trying to sleep? Well…not anymore. Good morning, Sunshine!

Oh, there’s a man interested in you? You know he only wants one thing, right? And you’re not getting any younger, so forget about getting that “happily ever after”, cause they all leave, eventually. Why would they possibly want to stay with you? An aging, anxious, depressed, overweight, grandmother. Yeah, there’s the brass ring. Take what they give you, because that’s all there is anymore, Chickie. You aren’t going to get what you want.

And the ride never ends, with subject after subject being over-analyzed & subjected to the highest-powered microscope possible.

So, yes, some days I want to die.

And some days I feel as though I’m just a passenger in my own skin, & I watch the automaton doing the work thing, & the talking to other people thing, & the taking care of the animals thing, & I marvel at the wonders of modern science that could create such a life-like robot that can carry passengers who watch the day go by out through the eye-windows.

And I’m glad on those days that I could just lie back & let the robot do it all, because the depression had me under water again, & the anxiety told me that if I struggled, I’d snap my own neck for sure and then where would I be?

And some days, there’s just no up…only sideways…and it’s all I can do to hang onto the cliff’s edge with my nonexistent fingernails, & shift to the left, digging for another foothold.

So, some days, I dye.

Yes, black hair.

It was time to go dark.

After all, it’s been pretty dark on the inside lately. Time to let it out.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things

I just finished reading this book. The one that titles this post, by Patrick Rothfuss.

It’s a small slice of one character, a small, side character in other books he’s written, which starts with The Name of the Wind. 
Auri, the character in this story, is sweet, quiet, & broken. She hides from the world around her, flitting through shadowed places, & doing things in a way that make no sense to the “normal” world, but are totally true to herself & her perception of the world.

It reminds me a lot of Mr. God, This Is Anna, another slow, sweet, broken story about a lost girl who knows who she is, but has trouble fitting into society.

Both of these stories ring a true bell inside my heart, for different reasons, but mostly for the fact that, while these girls are completely & utterly true to their own natures, they are forever outsiders in their world at large. Each deals with this disconnect in their own way. One retreats into a quiet, safe (for her) existence, interacting only briefly & enigmatically with a chosen few… While the other is open & extroverted in her attempts to get others to understand where she is speaking from.
And I, I have found myself sliding from the extroverted “Anna” to the introverted “Auri”, retreating further & further, making fewer attempts to explain, or to try to at least get others to accept, my differences.

I’ve found that, most others either simply don’t care enough to try to understand, or fear the explanation, and what it might mean for their perceptions.  
It does no good to try to wring water from a stone… The best you can hope for, is that someday, lightning will strike, splitting a crack in the stone, & let the water trickle through.

Until then, I will keep my innermost thoughts relegated to the few who grace my closest circle, & this blog, if I feel like sharing.
Auri, I understand your yearning to stay in the Underthing, for us broken souls must stay in our true and proper place.

Selling my Soul

My emotions have been a rollercoaster lately, not gonna lie.

And I don’t see the situation changing in the near future. 

But, today at work, I had a “minipiphany”. 

I was talking to a coworker about my current relationship situation (there’s only 1 there who gets to, or, maybe, is forced to listen to my relationship foibles & follies – Because I know she’ll keep shut about it), & while I was describing the phone conversation I had with E on Saturday night, I figured something out.

Ok, a little back story music, if you please, maestro…

A few years ago, the first time I ventured into the world of online dating, I met – the Dragon. That is my nickname for him here, & it fits for many reasons, none of which are pertinent to this particular story. We got along very well, even though he is living on a small island in the Caribbean, so is geographically inconvenient. We spent a lot of time talking online, via Skype, & had even planned a meet up.

There was a period where he disappeared for about 6 months, due to some obligations that were very hush hush, & I didn’t know where he’d gone, or even if he was alive or dead.  After 6 months of messaging, emailing, & attempting contact via text, I finally decided that he was probably gone for good, & tried online dating again. 

Meeting E. 

Shortly after, the Dragon showed back up, & as happy as I was to see him, I did tell him that I’d met someone, & felt I owed it to E to see where it went. (E had already told me he loved me, & wanted to marry me- fast, I know. It made me nervous, & I wasn’t sure I wanted to move that fast. Ironic, that)

The Dragon told me that he couldn’t get into any kind of relationship anyway, after what had happened in his last, he felt too vulnerable, & exited stage left.

It hurt me. A lot. In the time we’d known each other, I had come to think of him as Chosen Family, & that doesn’t get said about very many people. But, I’ve only ever wanted him to be happy, so had to let go, instead of begging him to stay.

Fast forward to December, 2016.

I dreamt about the Dragon, & knew I needed to contact him, to let him know I’d never forgotten him. I waited till after the New Year, fearful of rejection, but I sent off an email.

He responded positively, & we’ve exchanged a couple of emails since.

About this same time, I’d told E that I was done waiting, done being last place to everything else, & I had “drawn the line where I said No More.” 

These 2 events were mutually exclusive, having no bearing on one another.

BUT, getting back to today’s miniature revelation.

I told the coworker that if E showed up on my doorstep tomorrow, I didn’t know what I’d do. After all the broken promises, the shattered trust, I honestly don’t know if I can get myself back into that relationship far enough to ever trust him again.

And I realized…

If the Dragon showed up at my door tomorrow…

I know exactly what my decision would be.  I’d choose him. Every time. In whatever capacity he needed me to fill in his life. Friend, pen pal, confidante, family, lover, you get the picture.

So, coworker said “Ok, so there’s your answer. Tell E you’re out.” 

But, here’s where I am weak. Here’s where I fall apart.

E still wants to marry me. 

He says he loves me, & will always love me. He wants forever. (If he can ever fucking get here) 

I am 46.

And overweight, & have health issues, & mental issues like anxiety & depression.

Gods…

I feel weak even saying this, & I want to cry, & kick myself, & just crawl in a hole.

Part of me wants to stay with E…simply because I don’t think anyone will ever make me this offer of marriage & forever, ever again.

And I don’t want to be alone forever.

I know someone who would be happy to be FWB, but doesn’t want monogamy & commitment. 

I do. I want monogamy. I want commitment. I want forever.

I’ll never get to have a 50th anniversary with anyone. 

But, I want to have anniversaries again.

And, I have no idea whether the Dragon will stay around this time, or if he’ll disappear again.

I don’t know what his feelings are at all, right now.

I wish I did, but I don’t.

And, there’s E. 

I can’t stand hurting anyone.

But someone’s going to end up being hurt by whatever decision I make.

It’s a foregone conclusion that I’ll end up hurting, either way.

There’s no winning.

If I tell E I’m out, I’ll hurt him, hurt myself, & possibly end up alone for the rest of my life. If I stay with him, I feel as though I would possibly be selling my soul to prevent loneliness.

If I tell the Dragon how I feel, I could scare him off. If I tell him I’m staying with E, I’ll hurt him. I know it. And I could end up alone there, too, because dragons are unpredictable & skittish.

If I tell them both that I’m out, that I can’t take the whipsawing back & forth, the uncertainty, everyone ends up hurt.

So, what happens next? 

Stay tuned to see if I sell my soul, hand off my broken, twisted heart, or curl up into a defensive posture & roll away into the night, leaving all I know behind to start over somewhere else.

Not quite a rose ceremony…more like a bad emo poetry reading with stale cookies & knock off koolaid.

Fuck.

Panic Attacks and Pain

Last night was horrendous.

The man that I’ve been in a long distance relationship with for the past 3.5 years has been texting me pretty much non-stop, with me avoiding replying, trying to distance myself from the pain. I had told him months ago that I couldn’t take the distance anymore, & that my seeming lack of importance in his list of priorities, namely, that he’d never once, in those 3.5 years attempted to see me face to face, breaking promise after promise, was too much.  I couldn’t do it anymore, and it had to stop.

I succeeded in the not-replying for a week.

Guilt trips, anger, begging, bargaining, & even subtle threats coupled with accusations weren’t enough to get me to respond. In fact, it drove me further away.

Until last night.

And in the depths of remorse over the hurt I was causing another human being, I reached out.

What followed was a sobbing, wrenching, painful phone call that left me wrung out emotionally, & in the throes of a violent panic attack. 

I didn’t sleep last night.

Finally, after taking some medication to force me to sleep, I stole about 3 hours of rest this morning, only to wake in the middle of another panic attack.

Heart racing, short of breath, and shaking, I’ve been huddled in my house, constantly on the verge of tears, & unable to calm myself until just the last hour or so, when the anti-anxiety medication finally took over.

Now, numb & hollowed out, I don’t know what to do anymore.

Heart and head war with one another.

Logic and emotion cannot agree.

And the pain of either decision before me looms large, black and all-consuming.

Either way, someone will be in pain.

Either way, I will hurt.

And it will be me who causes it.

Can I run now?

Fine

I’m fine.

Except when he calls. Because I won’t answer, I let it ring, silently, while I attempt to get ready for my day; putting on the mask I have to wear for the next 8-9 hours, so no one knows there’s anything wrong. But I know it’s ringing, even when it’s laid, facedown, on my sink. I know it’s ringing, 3 or 4 separate times, because he simply – Won’t. Stop. Calling.

I’m fine.

Except when he texts, because I refuse to answer during the day, trying to remain focused on what I have to get through at work, knowing that he’s furious & accusatory; pleading one minute and threatening the next…I can’t even look to see what he’s sent most of the time, but then…have to look when I take a break, because, like a train wreck…you just- have to look. And then the shakes start. And I have to remember how to breathe, and when to smile, so no one knows there’s anything wrong. Doubling the anxiety meds some days just to take the edge off to appear “normal”.

I’m fine.

Except late at night, when I have to put my phone on vibrate, so it doesn’t ring in the middle of the night, when he’s frantically trying to get me to answer him – due to the time difference between here and there.

I’m fine.

Except that I can’t block the communication completely, my lovely phone plan not allowing me to block, but only to “auto-refuse”, which means I don’t see the calls coming anymore, but it doesn’t stop the texting, or the emailing.

I’m fine.

Because I refuse to tell people around me that he – Will. Not. Listen. To what I told him. That I’m done, I can’t take the broken promises anymore, and I need to focus on the life I have going on around me, instead of some long-drawn-out and never-manifesting wish I had that I could be happy with someone, that I could be loved by someone responsible & honest & someone with integrity & commitment to me in his heart.

I’m fine. 

Don’t worry.

I’m fine.

Because I will get this behind me, somehow, some way. I will do this on my own, because I refuse to be a burden or an obligation to anyone, and this is my responsibility to handle this fucking mess. I don’t want pity – I hate seeing it on anyone’s face.

So I don’t tell.  I don’t talk.

I’m fine.