This post is sponsored by Responsival.
I have a lot of anxiety. Despite having an older sibling for the first twelve years of my life, I’m still the product of oldest child syndrome. I probably have undiagnosed ADHD, which masked my anxiety — which masked my ADHD (and round and round that goes forever). So I worry. A lot. About everything. Literally everything. The following is a brief list of some of my biggest fears — the ones that keep me up at night.
My own untimely death
I’m sure everyone thinks about this at some point or another, but more than a few times, I’ve been entirely overcome by grief of my own demise. What if I have cancer and don’t know it? What if this car I’m driving flies off a bridge into a body of water like in Beetlejuice. Who will miss me when I’m gone? What will Brian do? What will my family do? And now — new worry unlocked! — what will my child do? How will he grow up? Who will make sure he’s kind and gentle and strong and funny and grows up to be a feminist? Will he know my story? Will he be angry at me? Will he remember me? And yes, I’m sobbing right now just writing this, even though I have zero reason to believe I’m dying.
Okay, let’s lighten that up a bit: Will my student loans finally go the fuck away? Will someone accidentally stumble upon naked pictures of me when I was 20 years old? Who will wipe my search results? You know writer’s search results get wild AF. Do I need another life insurance policy to make sure my family is covered for whatever I leave behind? I certainly don’t qualify for one that would require a medical exam…have you even seen my medical history? Who will make sure my Facebook doesn’t get hacked? What will happen to my blog? Will someone finish/edit/publish my unfinished work? So many questions. So many things to worry about.
Something happening to my child
I get it. This is every parent’s nightmare. But maybe if I say it out loud, some other parent will feel less alone. From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I was terrified for the tiny seed that would eventually become Stormageddon. Not many people know how long we struggled to have a child because we didn’t talk about it, but it took us a long time to hear that little heartbeat. I knew all of the risks and I worried about each one of them. Every milestone, every week that we got closer to “viable,” every test that offered reassuring answers helped me breath just a little bit more.
Nearly two years from that day, I am still an absolute bundle of knotted worry. Just the other day, Stormy napped extra long and the room was quiet, and I made Brian go up and check on him. The minute I heard a gentle toddler moan, I released a breath I didn’t know I had been holding. When he was smaller, and the fear of SIDS was still strong, I would wake up and listen intently for a whine, whimper, cough, or sneeze. I would turn the sound of the monitor up to hear him breath. I never went to his room without hearing him make any kind of sound or seeing him move on the video monitor first.
When I was deep in the throes of postpartum anxiety (uhhh…who knew THAT was a thing?), I started seeing a therapist (which we’ve all known I probably needed for years prior. More on that another time). One of the books she recommended was a graphic novel called Good Moms Have Scary Thoughts by Karen Kleiman (Author) and Molly McIntyre (Illustrator). It really helped me, and if you’re having scary thoughts, maybe it will help you too.
Losing everything in a fire or home invasion
Listen, I know it’s just stuff (listen to the audio on that video and see if anyone sounds familiar), but I have always valued my stuff. I’m a collector of things. I place emotional value on inanimate objects. When I was student teaching a speech class, we asked our students to choose 5 objects to bring into class and speak about. I was thrilled to provide an example speech. While I don’t remember all of the items I chose, I do recall that my grandfather’s navy cap from the 1940s was one of them. Photographs from the before times (you know, the days of one-hour photos and film negatives in piles on the basement floor). Heirloom jewelry. But also, not antique desks — sorry, Mom.
Fashion is my art. Well, one of my arts. I have spent years building a colorful wardrobe of clothing that fits me well and makes me feel good about myself. When I briefly lost a large chunk of that wardrobe during a lost-luggage situation at Disney World, I was beside myself with grief. Sure, I had thrifted 80% of my luggage, but that made it even harder to replace. Finding clothes in my size and style and color specifications isn’t always easy. It’s a treasure hunt.
But the idea that all of it could be lost in moments due to a fire? Terrifies me. Even when I was a little girl (see the above note about anxiety), a cartoon had me disaster prepping for a fire. I *think* it was Barbie and the Rockers because I vaguely remember Skipper, but I could be wrong. I had a laundry basket full of my prized possessions that wasn’t too heavy so if there was a fire while I was sleeping, I could grab it and go in a moment’s notice and not lose my favorite things.
So, as it is, I have a lot of scary thoughts. These are just three of them, and as I don’t want to write an entire dissertation on all of my fears, I think I’ll leave it at that for now. What are some of the worries that keep you up at night?
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