This past six months or so I’ve been noticing a bit of a looming feeling in the background of my mind. Things in my life are relatively dialed in for the time being. I have a new life, a family, a routine of day to day things. I have dealt with enough of the bigger stressors that I now have more time and energy to tackle and explore smaller things like organizing the house and my own mind better. Essentially, the fires have been put out and I feel like it has opened up some space to explore a little. For me though, that also comes with an incredibly challenging sense of doom.
When things start to feel calm and in order, I start to get scared. I guess I start looking for what’s going to go wrong. I’ve had that feeling my whole life really, not just since being widowed. My mom died when I was nine. I struggled with depression for about 2 years after that, with no one to really talk to about it. My dad fell into drinking pretty bad when I was in my late teens and thru my twenties. Then he died when I was 27. Three years later, Drew died suddenly in a crash.
From the time I was nine years old, I have not gone more than 7 or 8 years without something catastrophic and life altering happening to me. Much more of the time, it has been every couple of years. It is currently nearing year seven since Drew died… so I guess it isn’t surprising that I am dealing with these feelings of impending doom.
No one else close to me has died since Drew died, and I’m very grateful for that. Nothing else especially catastrophic has happened in this time either, save for moving across the country to be with Mike and start a new life. And even that, while it was a huge change that did bring some grief and struggle, was still more of a positive and was something I chose to do.
So I guess it makes sense that nearing seven years after his death… the panic wheels are beginning to spin. Part of me knows, I cannot escape catastrophic events forever. Part of me knows that something painful must be just around the corner. And it scares the shit out of me. Someone else dying. Getting cancer. Someone I love getting cancer or dying suddenly. It stretches well beyond fears that something will happen to my new partner. It stretches to my siblings, my best friends, to everyone I love.
I’m trying hard to fill up my time and my mind lately with other, more positive things, to help combat some of this fear. Especially since - other than making sure to make all my doctor visits - there is not much about the future that I can actively do anything about.
I guess that explains the almost obsessive levels of activity I’ve been in lately. The almost obsessive level of distractions I’ve needed in order to drown out that voice in the back of my mind. I honestly don’t think I was even very aware that I’m struggling with this so much until I started typing these words. I thought it was just cabin fever from the long winter months making me stir crazy. I don’t think it is just that though. I think it is definitely a very real fear about what the next painful catastrophe in my life is going to be. Because I know it will come. And I hate that I know it will come.
I don’t have a solution for how to deal with this fear yet. I wish I did. I do know that being creative and trying new things has helped a lot though. So maybe that is the best takeaway I have right now. I’ve been finding all kinds of new ways to be creative lately. I’ve been doing creative problem solving around the house… completely rethinking some of the ways we use our spaces and dreaming up other inventive ways to use those same spaces that would either work better or be more enjoyable and fun. I’ve spent countless hours on the couch with Mike, watching Youtube videos of other people being creative. He’s been getting into woodworking and we’re finding a whole new, fun world by watching folks making wood projects online. His growing interest in that has also inspired me to try woodworking more, so learning new skills there has helped me keep my mind off my fears. I’ve been learning new photography techniques and trying out new art techniques in the studio, and I’ve even been learning a lot about marketing and growing my skills there for my business.
So I guess some good has come out of trying to deal with this fear. It seems like it has encouraged me to turn to some really healthy things to cope. It’s given me a desire to take action, learn new things, make stuff I’ve never made before, and just try and make meaningful use of my time so that I don’t spend so much of it caught up inside my own head. That part of it has been good. Maybe sharing about this fear here will help lessen it some, I don’t know. I hope it does. I hope it loses some of its power by being shared aloud. In the least, I guess it’s good to know its out there, and that maybe my own struggle in dealing with this will make someone else feel less alone with something they're dealing with.
Fear just sucks doesn't it?