Sounds almost pleasant, doesn’t it? It’s not. Oxymoronic in its essence, free-floating anxiety sees the anxious bit hijacking anything that might be considered free and the sucker floats like a anvil.
Anxiety that lacks a definite focus or content.
And that, folks, comes before the first cup of tea.
I have always lived with demons … depression being the biggest bugger with the fiercest bite … but anxiety is rather new to me. Sure, I’m a worrier. What woman isn’t, especially living alone and having kids to raise? But it’s not often my worries cause me to lose sleep.
In fact, I usually sleep fairly well; I drop off without effort, and if disturbed have little to no trouble drifting back into slumber. Yes, my sleep is dream-plagued/blessed and often not as restful as I’d like, but I do sleep and for the allotted hours.
No, it’s not the sleeping that’s my issue, my demon … whatever … but the waking.
Before my eyes open I now realize I’ve shifted from sleep to awake by the sudden onset of that free-floating anxiety thing. It takes a bit of time to recognize and even more to run it through the filters: I’m late; I’m early; I’m breathing; kids are okay; nothing horrible happened in the night; scan the list of what’s on for the day; yes, I’m here alone. Check. Check. Check.
So, why am I shaking and where is this panic over a new day coming from? Am I sixth-sensing portents of doom? Has a shit asteroid been plummeting toward me in the night? Why is every drop of sadness in my body rushing in to welcome another twenty-four hours of the same old crap? Is the day now tainted? Have I contaminated the glass of opportunity by dropping in a dollop of shite with my quaking hands? Will these backed-up tears cloud my vision? Or drown me?
Tea. I need tea.
And thus begins my day.
It’s not every day that starts this way. Thankfully, I do go through periods where I wake up like a normal person, slowy and with a lovely touch of fog misting my corners. On those mornings my eyes open, the view presents itself in all its glory and potential rolls out in front of me. Those occasions take a second cup of tea to bring recognition of and appreciation for the ease of sliding into what had been tomorrow.
More often than not, however, it’s choking sad and shaking panic that form my salute to the sun.
I can trace the roots of this relatively new … what? … affliction? … waking nightmare? … free-floating anxiety … yeah, that’s it.
Close to eighteen months ago my waking moments changed drastically with the 6-am-ish phone call that told me my son was dead. And although this will not only sound trite, but obvious, I’ve not been the same since.
It’s a fact of life that the older we get, the longer our loss list grows. Over the past few years I’ve lost a lot … a son, a husband, a great love, all semblance of security, the last vestiges of youth, a load of nerve, hopes, dreams, wishes … even, from time to time, the will to live. (Yes, I have a list of gains, too, but I’ve just passed a week being thankful and that’s not what this is about this morning.)
I can deal with each and every loss … one-by-one, please … but first thing in the morning and before I’m fully awake? Not so well. Not at all, actually, since dealing isn’t what happens when I’m trembling and feeling the sting of tears before my eyes even open.
The result, of course, of this free-floating shit is an effort to flail a lasso about and pull it close enough to examine just what the fuck it might be. That sure pulls out the list, and as my mind leaps like a frog across sinking lily pads I am forced to recollect most every crappy thing that has happened, may happen or will happen. And I haven’t even peed yet …
At least I get words out of it, heh? Here are a few from this morning:
Good Morning, Sword
Within my realm I awaken each day
to a view of the sea and bird song
It is in my power to make what I may
But the first works I utter are:
I don’t see the sword hanging over my head
but I know that it’s there and suspended
by something no stronger than one single hair
if should break means the world is