I have to admit something here. As of late, I am not doing well. Not doing well at all, friends.
And I have been down before. Not only have lived through the heinous depths of divorce, but there are many other incredibly difficult and traumatizing things that have happened in my life before. Things like wearing a scoliosis back brace in high school, discovering hidden memories of childhood traumas, intense self esteem issues that may have bordered on an eating disorder and even battling clinical depression.
Lately, my general “unwellness” is different than anything I have ever experienced before. This is just…life. And I have had about enough of it.
See, in the past, when I have gone through hard times, something catastrophic has perpetuated it or surrounded it. So it made sense. Even my clinical depression, which (for me) essentially meant that everything in my life was entirely peachy but due to a chemical imbalance, I vacillated between a numb statue of a person and a giant puddle of inconsolable tears, made sense because of said chemical imbalance. Today, I have been living in a constant state of panic and anxiety. Completely on edge all of the time. But none of it really is specific to a situation or cause.
I am fixating on the negative. I know I am. I fixated and obsessing over the fact that death is inevitable and for some, will be upon us sooner rather than later. The idea that someday I will have to learn to live without my parents- never seeing or talking to them ever again is with me all of the time; I wear it like a shroud of dread. The fact that my little dog – my constant companion of the last 9 years through all the highs and lows of my 20s-is in incredibly poor health has me constantly wrought with worry. Every single day, I prepare myself before I walk in the door after work for the possibility that his body will not, in fact, come out of his crate to greet me. And in this preparation, I start to vividly imagine what it will be like- to find him passed away in his sleep, or watch him take his final breaths, to maybe have to put him down. What life will be like when I don’t have his warm little body to cuddle up with on Sunday afternoon naps? How will it feel to never kiss is sweet muzzle good night any more? Sadly, I continue to imagine similar scenarios for even more important people in my life- like my parents.
And yes, this is all in spite of knowing that worrying is useless and life works in funny, unexpected ways. I fully realize that my little fur baby could live another two, three maybe even four or five years. My parents actually have killer gentics and losing them could be far, far down the road. But that’s not enough. When I start to do the math, it’s never enough. Because at the end of the day, someone must out live the other, and generally, in these scenarios, this is me. In these scenarios, I have come to realize, there will be a time when I will not have the comfort or support of those who are dearest to me. This is just how life works and I know, logically, that instead of worrying, I should do more to enjoy my time with them. And I do. Or at least I try. And will keep trying.
But at night, as I lay alone in bed with only my two pups surrounding me, my mind will start to wander and spiral into something that I cannot control as I play out the millions of scenarios that could cause myself or loved ones harm.
None of this is helped by the fact that I feel entirely surrounded by death. It is like the concept of death is following me. Even in my sleep, I dream about death. Perhaps it is more of an availability heuristic and the fact that I am currently more hyperaware of these things. But it’s had me damn near cry twice at the gym as I watched episodes of my, usually, harmless and brainless Real Housewives where both someone from the OC and someone from New York dealt with death in a very open and honest way. Movies and books I have picked up at random have had unusual plot twists revolving around death. At work, a coworker of mine lost his mother just this past week and another a year ago to date this week. In fact, just scrolling through my Facebook today, I see celebrity deaths trending and others posting about their own experiences.
I know that in reality, death is a dime a dozen since thousands upon thousands of people die each day throughout the world. And there is almost always someone mourning them. Many of my friends have already faced such hardship. I am-or rather, will- not be unique in losing my parents, or other close loved ones. It is something we almost all go through. But that offers me little solace.
How do we all do it? How is something so immensely raw and painful, so commonplace?