This is the challenge title for today’s drawing challenge. Initially I started thinking of how my various parts would respond:

NOPEpotemus: Your blackness will be allowed out and it will hurt you.

Pointy Plague Doctor: You will never get anything done ever again and you will turn into a garbage pile of a human being and become one with your mattress.

Dramatic Flying Tree Squirrel: You will never attain any of the goals you set yourself. (So why bother trying?)

Judgemental Crow: People will see you and realise you’re not really up to snuff.

Tantrum Toddler Me: You will never ever get anything nice. You will never get “your turn”. All will be work and seriousness and horrible.

Anxious Turtle: You will die. Everyone you love will die. If you don’t check your children, they might have stopped breathing in the night and maybe you could have done something. But you didn’t.

Meanwhile, as I’ve been typing this, breaking news has come in that North Korea has tested an intercontinental nuclear missile.

What’s the worst that could happen. Let’s face it, the worst is very bad. It depends on your starting criteria.

Back out of the world, into my own self-obsessed little bubble, my personal worst is defined by Anxious Turtle’s pov. Something happening to my children or husband. Something terminal happening to me. Honestly, cliched and all as it is, something happening to my children would be the worst. The very worst. The type of event I shy away from even contemplating. Something I couldn’t possibly prepare for – and even the thought of preparing for it is too terrible. It’s not worth the price of entry, to entertain those thoughts in order to somehow potentially shield myself from such an earth-shattering occurrence.

I’ve run scenarios in my head about my own potential demise: quick and unprepared for like a plane crash or a traffic accident, or lingering as the result of some form of long term illness. And I’ve run scenarios involving the death of my husband. In fact, G. is off to work in Dublin for the day, and so my mind has churned through its usual horror stories of train crashes and muggings and stabbings before I’ve even finished my cup of morning coffee. They’re all horrible scenarios, and I know why I do this to myself. Somehow – I think – I’ve made myself more likely to be able to survive those (hopefully unlikely) occurrences. I don’t know if it’s true or not. I don’t know if it makes me any more potentially resilient to play private horror movies in my head. I don’t like living with the anxiety I experience whenever G. takes some long journey away, or walks home alone at night from the pub.

But it is nothing compared with the wordless screaming horror that is the anxiety I feel around the thought of something happening to my children. I read a post written by a friend of mine where he described his daughter as being akin to his heart walking around in the world without his control, or even ability to protect. That’s how I feel. Sure, I’ve got all that furious protective instinct going on inside me, but even more powerful than that is the colourless howling void of panic and terror that swirls inside, wherein resides all of the powerless love that I feel as these two tiny unprotected fragments of my soul walk around in the world.

And they’re so stupid too! They have no concept of dangers; they want to walk on the verge of the road, they want to climb too high, run too fast, eat the wrong things. They are tiny little death-summoning machines. And my heart is not in my mouth, my heart is out there, in someone else’s body, catapulted beyond my protection. What’s more, it’s only going to get worse, as they get older and crave and deserve more independence. It’s one of the hardest things I’ve had to contemplate doing, to stand back and let them do it themselves. Right now it’s hard, and I at least get to observe (mostly) as they fling themselves through life with reckless abandon. What about when they’re 15 and still without a shred of sense, yet need (and deserve) to try to navigate some of life’s waters on their own. What about when they’re 25, and have the financial power and independence to take themselves thousands of miles out of my reach.

Yeah. What’s the worst that can happen? Well, death and maiming stuff aside, the worst would be them fleeing from me because I’ve held them too tightly. So, every day I practice letting go, in the hopes that when they have the choice, they’ll decide to stay.