Writing here has become a prescription again. I need to hit up the words for a thirty-day course in self-listening and letting my whine out in a safe space.
I tried a month or so back, but that didn’t go anywhere. I thought I didn’t need it. I thought I was doing okay, that I was in control.
No one’s in control ever, but we like to convince ourselves we are. We like to write an internal narrative where we hit all the right beats in the right order and the prize of a happy and fulfilling life pops out the other end – justified and earned. It’s the old lie – post hoc, ergo propter hoc. “After this, therefore because of this.”
In truth, stuff just happens and we don’t have a hell of a lot of control over the most important things that happen to us. And all the rituals in the world won’t save us from a miscarriage or the death of a spouse or the heat death of the universe.
Oh, I’m not in complete denial about cause and effect. I’m pretty strongly into determinism (on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), but I think it’s so bloody complicated that a deterministic universe makes no noticeable difference to how we’ve got to live our lives.
We make the best choices we can, given the information we have on any given day – and sure, some of that information is subtler and more intuitive than we might like to admit – but we factor it all in as best we can and then we choose our path. Maybe it’s about something as tiny as to have green tea vs coffee. Maybe it’s to walk rather than drive. Or to have that extra drink with your friends and stay up a little later than we’d intended.
And maybe one of those choices means that cancerous cell got an early boost, or we staved off stress and a heart-attack for an extra five years, or none of the above; it made no difference whatsoever – it was just another thing we did.
And regardless of the outcome can we be blamed for it? In such complex systems, you could drive yourself crazy trying to work out the potential inputs and outputs of the system of your life. And you’re bound to get it wrong anyway because the model is flawed and incomplete and everything we do from eating healthily to lying on our left sides at night is just part of an elaborate superstitious ritual; a dance meant to stave off the inevitable result that comes at the end of all lives.
So, that’s kind of what’s been happening to me over the past while. My inherent daily anxiety has escalated to a point of near non-functioning, and kind of without warning. Well, I suppose there was probably warning. There was warning in my known historical nature; there was a warning back in July when the nausea and exhaustion overwhelmed me and I ended up crying in the hallway of my parents’ house; there was a warning last pregnancy with my beautiful twin boys when I couldn’t sleep or rest or relax for the 37 weeks they grew inside of me. But all of those honestly felt like reasonable reactions to reasonable inputs from the world.
Now this pregnancy is going smoothly. And that was everything I’d hoped for, everything I felt I’d deserved this time ’round. Everything I’d earned through the goddamn hell that was 2011 and 2008 and the stress and fear of carrying the boys.
But you don’t get to earn a free pass in pregnancy and I’m painfully aware of that. So it’s in my mind every second of the day that – regardless of hitting my milestones and targets successfully so far – it could all be ripped away in a split second.
I fear it so strongly that I can’t stop living it.
And that’s not exactly doing myself a whole lot of favours. I mean best case scenario – I’ve driven myself into a tizzy and months of anxiety and fear for no reason. And my brain is so fucked up right now that I think that’s a reasonable price to pay. No, worse than that – I think it’s the price to pay, like it’s the button I have to hit over and over and in the end my prize will pop out. A perfect, unharmed baby.
Like when people make that joke about carrying an umbrella so that it won’t rain.
Except carrying an umbrella doesn’t do the same kind of harm that living in this constant state of fear does.
So. Step one. Write.
See you tomorrow.