After dropping T off at school today I turned off the car in our driveway and didn’t move. I was scared to go in the house. Last night Z took T out for ice cream after dinner. He was giving me a break and spending some quality time with the kid because they won’t see each other this weekend. Evidently he forgot to close the back door when they got home. When I walked into the kitchen this morning it seemed drafty, I went to our back vestibule and sure enough only the screened door was closed. If you look up absent minded professer in the dictionary there is a picture of Z. At this point I’m rather resigned to his forgetfulness, although I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bug the hell out of me.
He packed up his car and drove off to NYC and I readied the boys for our day. But the whole while I was imagining a story surrounding the open door. The bare bone are that a rapist/murderer entered the house last night and hid. He overheard that Z was leaving for the weekend and that T goes to school at 9am and somehow he knew that I put C down for a nap as soon as we get back to the house (that part wasn’t fully fleshed out, but I only had a few minutes to come up with the scenario). As soon as C was down and I was alone in the house the intruder would emerge and rape and murder me. I consoled myself with the thought that C would be safe in his crib until someone discovered my body.
It was a real effort to leave the safety of my car and bring C into the house. I thought by doing it I would be setting the story in my mind into action. And in a moment of clarity I realized that I am in awful shape.
I know the mental illness posts are repetitive. They are also one of the things that helps keep the terror at bay. After realizing that I was simply being crazy I had the thought that I could write about it, and that helped me get out of the car, grab C, and enter the house. On the way upstairs I checked closets and behind the shower curtain. I noticed that our cat was completely relaxed. If there was a stranger in the house she’d probably be hiding. I wondered why I felt the need to reassure myself that I was alone even after I’d realized I was being a crazy person, then I decided to not question it. Whatever helps me get through an episode, you know?
My overactive imagination is usually a welcomed friend. It keeps me company, helps me get through my day. When I was little it not only gave me an imaginary friend (Laura Ingalls Wilder), but an imaginary nemesis (Albert from the Little House tv show). Laura and I were a team and everything that we did was a competition with Albert and his friend (I don’t remember if his friend had a name). How fast could we clean up our room? Brush our teeth? Run down the stairs? The answer was always faster than the boys. Occasionally they would beat us, but then it was revealed that for that moment only we were competing to see who was slowest and Laura and I still came out on top. Laura and Albert were real to me, our games are some of the sharpest memories I have from being very young.
As I grew up the books I read became fodder for my flights of fancy. I would become lost inside their worlds, often when I should have been focusing on what was going on in real life. Slowly, and over the course of many years the anxiety started to take hold and my imagination was no longer simply a source of comfort. I became increasingly paranoid, sure that everyone I knew was laughing at me behind my back. The imaginary scenarios became more sinister. I became convinced people were actually out to get me, I accused Z of all sorts of bizarre and outlandish things.
But eventually the therapy and the drugs started working, I slowly got better. These days it is hard not to feel angry and resentful when my imagination betrays me. I hate that the anxiety has poisoned at least some of every good part of me. But I try to chase the boogeyman away, to ignore the tingling I feel down my neck and at the base of my spine when I’m alone in the house, to go about my day and give the finger to the lies my anxiety tells me. I try to focus on the good stuff–Z will be home on Sunday night, I’ve got a babysitter for a few hours tomorrow, I can watch Harry Potter tonight, we’ll have Alto Cinco for dinner, there is left over key lime pie in the fridge. And one more good thing–I’m well enough to know that there really isn’t an intruder in my house. At least I’m pretty sure.