“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” –Matthew 6:34
I had a lot on my mind this morning. So much so that I woke up at 4:00am thanks to an anxiety attack. Part of it is normal worries like finances, future plans, keeping up with my freelance work given the demands of my full-time job. These same things lead to anxious thoughts and feelings all the time for me, so they’re par for the course.
However, I’m also worried about how I’m going to make it through the rest of this month without falling apart.
I knew April would be a hard month before it even started. It would be Easter and Donate Life Month. But, the next 10 or so days are filled with “Emily” things, and they’re all back to back.
- Tuesday, April 18 — I’m sharing Emily’s story at a Donate Life flag raising event.
- Wednesday, April 19 — 6 months without Emily
- Friday, April 21 — I am “trying again” with seeing Lizzo by going to the Knoxville show she added to her tour.
- Monday, April 24 — Our 2 year dating anniversary (aka the day we finally told each other what we’d been feeling for a while)
- Wednesday, April 26 — The fashion show I’m doing for Donate Life
- Thursday, April 27 — I make the final payment on Emily’s engagement ring.
This amount of stuff on my calendar would stress me out under normal circumstances. Unfortunately, because Emily isn’t here to ground me, it feels much more overwhelming than normal.
She Calmed My Anxiety
I’ve been dealing with a lot of things since Emily died. However, the most annoying thing by far are these random anxiety attacks that seem to come on around 4:00am at least once a month.
Anxiety attacks aren’t a new issue for me. I’ve dealt with them for as long as I can remember. But, bless her, Emily was a saint when I would have them. She’d sit with me, remind me to use paced breathing or get me an ice pack to TIPP, or talk to me until the fear melted away again.
There were many nights when I’d be fine until we got into bed. As she sat there and silently scrolled through Reddit or TikTok, my thoughts would begin to race. I’d start worrying about things like money, work, my parenting skills, the government… You name it, I would probably ruminate over it at night at some point.
But, Emily was always there and willing to intervene.
Sometimes I wouldn’t even have to say anything for Emily to know what was happening. She’d rub my back or touch me in some other way and ask if I was okay. She would say she noticed that my breathing changed or that I’d start shaking my leg, and she knew those were indications of an anxiety attack.
She Paused My Impulsivity
Earlier this week, I had a small issue arise with our townhouse’s property management. One day after putting out signs for Donate Life Month, I was told these signs are a lease violation even though plenty of my neighbors had signs out for other things. I got mad, fired off an email response asking what was being done to ensure everyone is abiding by the same rules, and said I appreciated any information the management team could provide so I could share it with my attorney.
That last bit was excessive, but when my emotions start driving the bus, I get rather impulsive. This is another area where Emily balanced me out. That woman talked me off the ledge so many times. And, usually, the reason I was so fired up to begin with had something to do with how someone else treated her.
I remember several instances where her ex would try to resume contact with her, and I would immediately want to call or message him to tell him to fuck off. Usually, Emily would either say it wasn’t worth picking a fight or she’d find a way to distract me.
It wasn’t always anger that led me to be impulsive. Sometimes I’d have knee-jerk reactions for other emotions too, especially sadness and fear. But, regardless of the situation, Emily could at least find ways to help me “simmer down” so that whatever I decided to do was less heated and emotional.
She Encouraged Me To Relax
Another one of my flaws is my inability to relax. I’m a bit of a workaholic, and I feel like if I’m not constantly doing something productive, then I’m being lazy. Although this was an issue Emily also dealt with sometimes, it seemed like we could both relax if we did it together.
Television shows were a good distraction and way to get me to relax. She’d also try to plan things on our kid-free weekends as a way for me to take breaks from my freelance work and unplug.
I love quality time with my people, and she knew that. I also knew that if I kept trying to work or do chores, Emily would too. I knew from all the time I spent with her even before we became a couple, her body literally needed relaxation and rest. And, if you know me, you know how fiercely I love my people and want to take care of them. So, sometimes I’d agree to relax simply to get her to do it too.
Ultimately, this was good for both of us, and I’ve realized that.
Who Will Keep Me Grounded?
When I told my therapist about the “sign incident” the other day, I specifically mentioned that I feel lost in so many ways without Emily. I said, “I know that I’m angry about the signs because of the connection to Emily, but at the same time she’s not here to ground me and remind me to keep my emotions in check.” She’s also not here to remind me to stop working and sleep or calm me down when those 4:00am anxiety attacks strike.
Ultimately, I know these are all things I can (and probably should) do for myself. But, because Emily was always there for me and so good at it, it’s hard to figure out where to go from here. I think part of me will always struggle with these things, and I don’t know that there’s any real solution besides to try my best and hope that I can channel her energy sometimes to keep me from losing touch with reality.
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