The latest instalment of, ‘My Therapist Gave Me An Assignment: Write about Your Ex’.
Anxiety is no joke. It’s up there with love on how elusive and intense it is or can be. It’s a feeling that can hardly be explained. The only thing I can say is that it’s one of the only feelings that summons from worry from absolutely nowhere. For me, worry from things that ultimately I could never control. This might complicate things, but it’s a feeling that festers from feeling. I had never felt anxiety so intensely the way I did during this time. I probably had one brief encounter with anxiety prior to this moment, while on the train en route to New Jersey to tend to my dad who had just been admitted to the hospital for open heart surgery and then shortly after, to remove cancer. That was the only time I had trouble breathing. I wasn’t alarmed because I could control it. And by ‘controlling’ it I mean by telling myself to take deep breaths. It was happening while reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, where Didion’s describes her experience of witnessing her husband’s death and then shortly after, her daughter’s passing. She expands on the feeling of processing death and the delusion that ensues when accepting that someone so close to you is now gone. This was the first moment I realized that I was now at the age where the roles will soon reverse from my parents as caretakers and providers to now, the people who will soon be taken care of.
This time around, I knew exactly what feeling anxious was comprised of. I knew the very feeling everyone so vaguely described. I still have this feeling every time I go to Brooklyn, where I know he spends most of his time and I hope this feeling will soon pass once I start dating again and I am no longer shackled down by the insecurities of this relationship. For a while and even still, I’ve thought that feeling anxious was like opening Pandora’s box. Now that this feeling was expressed and exposed, I would never be the same. Anxiety will now plague my life for even the smallest worry.
Words & Illustration by Megan Tatem.