Out of the blue I keep being struck by the fact that I am happy right now. I love my life. I love our home. I love our little family. I love the smoker Z got for his birthday, we are on a pork shoulder smoking jag right now. I even love that we are in the middle of a little home reno project to make room for New Guy. If any of you ever have to visit Syracuse make sure it is in the summer. This place is off the hook amazing. The highs vary from 80s to 70s, there is usually at least a thunderstorm a day, the nights are in the 60s, all that rain means it is as green and lush as a jungle. And most of the students are gone. It’s heaven on earth.
Everything feels better here in the summer. I don’t even mind how overcast it is because all the green makes up for the darkness, and the weather changes so fast there are usually a couple of minutes of sun a day, which is an improvement over the never ending darkness of wintertime. We have people over on the weekends. I love to cook even though I keep telling Z I’m getting too big and I’m ready to slow down in the kitchen I send him to the farmer’s market with lists for local fruits and veggies with all sorts of recipes in mind. I keep thinking things like I won’t get a chance to do a strawberry pie with local strawberries till next year if I don’t make one now. And I’ll tell you what, that pie was worth the body aches I had on Sunday night as I tried to ease myself into bed.
In the past, when my anxiety and agoraphobia have been severe I’ve sat on the sofa in a semi-catatonic state for hours at a time, remote nearby and computer on my lap. I didn’t make dinner, I didn’t clean up, I did manage to meet T’s basic needs but not much beyond that. I felt like a weight was pressing down on me, physically preventing me from getting up and taking part in life. I haven’t felt that way in several months, it feels so removed from my life right now that I can’t believe it was me.
One of the insidious ways my anxiety works is to plant little thoughts in my head and no matter how hard I try to dismiss them they come back over and over. I am happy most of the time right now. And I’m grateful for that. Back during the great breakdown of the mid aughts I couldn’t enjoy happiness at all because I was sure it was fleeting. As I’ve gotten better I’ve been able to enjoy the happiness while it lasts and swallow the terror of what will happen when it inevitably passes. But even though I’m loving life right now I also can’t shake the dread that has accompanied this pregnancy. I’m still scared something catastrophic will go wrong. The change is I’ve also started to believe everything is going to be OK and I will deliver a healthy baby boy on or around August 28th. So when the fear hits it feels especially shocking. I will be living my current happy life, making plans for this baby I want so much, and the certainty that I will deliver him stillborn, or go into labor two months early, or that he will be born but will have a significant health problem (though our genetic testing looked terrific), or any other of a million terrible scenarios will happen take hold of me and won’t let go. My nightmares are never ending. I wake up because I need to pee and when I fall back to sleep I’m back in the same awful dream and unable to get away.
Anxiety is smart, much smarter than I’ll ever be. Maybe this is its way of letting me know who is always in charge. Now that I’ve gotten past its threat of future unhappiness when I’m feeling good maybe it is just shape shifting into the worst fear I currently have. My feelings of inadequacy and failure surrounding the miscarriage last fall and my fear I lack the ability to carry another healthy baby to term certainly are ripe for the picking. Maybe I just need to figure out how to fight this particular demon. The discouraging thing is it feels like no matter how many times I learn to manage the current situation my anxiety will come up with a new one that I am completely unprepared to battle. It knows my deepest fears and exploits them with frightening efficiency.
It is weird to feel so happy and so fearful at the same time. But I do feel stronger now. When I was seriously unwell I didn’t believe in Z’s commitment to me. I believe it now. I didn’t have the responsibility of a little boy who is counting on me. It is so much easier to fight for myself now that I recognize there is so much to fight for. Yes, the unrelenting anxiety is overwhelming. Part of me just wants to give up. But the mom and wife part of me is stronger. And that rocks.