I'll get into the good (awful) stuff into minute, but first, let me paint you a picture of what anxiety disorder looks like for me. (Oh, did I never mention I have generalized anxiety disorder? Well, I do. I've never been clinically diagnosed with it, but I'm of the mind that it's one of those things that you just know you have, when you do. It's not like you can mistake anxiety for, say, a toothache. Or anemia. It's pretty obvious when you're panicky and worried to a debilitating degree.)
There's some paperwork that needs to be done for my lawyer, regarding my dad's estate. I've known it needs to be done, but I've been avoiding doing it, because absolutely everything associated with the estate gives me massive anxiety. Like, terrifying anxiety.
I have no idea why. It's just fucking paperwork, for the most part. But it does. Freaks me out like you wouldn't believe. It took me months to get things filed away and in order, to the point that they are now, because whenever I thought about doing any of it, I would have a complete melt down.
Anyway, the latest thing that needs to be done - well, it doesn't matter what it is. It's paperwork. And about a day after my attorney said Hey, you gotta do this, my printer went all wonky. Started printing things all blurry and wavy.
And I was all, of course. And I laughed bitterly to myself, as I am wont to do. And then I printed up a page of some blurry text and took it to my boy Percy to get his expert opinion. And mind you, Percy doesn't sell printers, just ink, so it isn't as if he has some vested interest in me getting a new printer, because god knows, my last one sucked up ink like it was going out of style.
Percy told me I needed a new printer, that the problem mine was exhibiting was basically the ink jet death rattle. He recommended a brand and model that he likes, and that he knew was on sale at Office Max. And I was grateful for his advice, his help, and of course, his humor (because you know I went in there raging, and you know he diffused the situation by being his ridiculous self).
Fast forward to me swinging by Office Max to get the new printer. And by "swinging by" I mean calling ahead to make sure they had one in stock, having some snotty-sounding associate inform me that I'd "better hurry up" because she could only hold it for half an hour, jumping on the train to Union Station, changing trains to get to Little Tokyo, running in to the store frantically because by this time, half an hour had gone by, then schlepping the damn thing home again. And it wasn't huge, but it wasn't light, or easy to carry. My arms were like jelly by the time I got back.
Then I pretty much let the printer sit in my cabinet for two weeks, because I was terrified of it.
Why the fuck would I be terrified of a printer, you ask?
That's an excellent question.
I was terrified of the printer because, in my warped and worried little mind, I had formed a link between it and the unpleasant paperwork I needed to do. The poor thing, which had never done wrong in its short printer life, was guilty by association.
Also, I had convinced myself that once I got around to setting it up, I wouldn't be able to configure it correctly, because I am lousy at those sorts of things. So me being the defeatist that I am, I had already doomed myself to failure.
Are you shocked, yet, that I'm not a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, with this sort of can-do attitude? Just wait.
Anyway, I closed the door on my scary printer, and more or less tried to ignore its existence, only getting spooked by it when I needed to open the cabinet to get an envelope or a rubber band or something. And when I did, you know that printer gave me some dirty looks, suffocating as it was in its shrink wrap and tape. Bitch, let me out. I can't breath in here. And I'm bored. Why don't you write something interesting for me to print up? Why don't you write something, period?
Well, tonight I decided I was ready to face my fear and deal with the damn thing. Only, anxiety isn't something I can just snuff out at will, like a candle. It's more like a snow globe. When my thoughts turn to the panic-inducing trigger - whatever it is - all of a sudden it's like a snow globe being violently shaken, where all those little snowflakes are bits of worry and fear. And I have to wait, calmly, trying not to shake it again, while they slowly fall and settle back to stillness. Then I can very carefully tiptoe in and try to do what I need to do.
So, the printer and I squared off for a couple of hours. This is what that looked like: I'd do something, anything, to try to procrastinate dealing with it. I cleaned. I did some laundry. I wrote some emails. All the while completely preoccupied with the knowledge of what I really needed to be doing instead. Meanwhile, the printer just sat there, wordlessly waiting, indifferent to my tumultuous state of mind.
(Incidentally, if you don't suffer from anxiety, now would be a good time to turn to your nearest loved one and say, I'm so glad I don't suffer from anxiety. I'm reading this blog, and man, this chick has problems.)
Let's fast forward, because holy god has this anecdote gotten long and boring. And this is where you get to be momentarily impressed because, get this shit: I actually unpacked and configured the printer correctly. Like a real grown up. It was amazing. I installed the paper, the cartridges, ran the ink test, and most incredibly, configured the wireless network. I entered in the correct network name and password and it synched up exactly like it was supposed to.
I probably should have stopped there and had a glass of wine to celebrate. But I got cocky and decided I could install the software on my laptop, too.
And that's when my little choo-choo train, which had heretofore been hauling ass down the Ellie Expressway, ran into a tunnel packed with TNT. Boom.
The details are boring - suffice to say, I couldn't get it to work, despite my troubleshooting. Something about drivers and incompatible operating systems.
And that's when I lost it. I just fucking lost it. I felt so useless, so dumb and incompetent, so defeated and frustrated. I dropped to the floor, held my dog, and cried.
For context, maybe, or at least background: I haven't been having the greatest couple of weeks, emotionally. Getting sick derailed my productivity and schedule, which in turn knocked my state of mind down a notch or three. And I've been struggling to get it back up.
What it is, and I know this is 100% pure whining, is that I just get so tired, sometimes, of doing everything on my own. It can be so discouraging when half my day gets sucked up by errands and chores the time of which spent accomplishing could be halved by a partner. I don't miss having a husband. But I miss having someone to share the responsibility of all the time-consuming, exhausting things required of Adult Life. Even just the physical exertion of doing all the shopping, all the housework, all the errands (read: walking, walking, and more walking), all the Chaucer care...it's hard for me sometimes, it really is.
Ugh. So whiny, I know. But there it is.
And sometimes I just don't fucking feel like being a strong, independent, competent person who takes care of herself completely on her own. Sometimes I just want to curl up in ball on the bed while someone strokes my hair and just babies me. Honestly, I don't even want someone to do my shit for me. I like the feeling of developing that, I don't know, grit, as I'm forced to do it all, on my own, all the time. But Christ, sometimes it would be so nice to have someone just sort of care for me a little bit, you know?
So tonight when I broke down, all of that came bubbling up from my stomach to my throat, and then to and through my eyes, in a hot, helpless rush.
And I found myself saying Why? over and over and over. Why, why, why? And Chaucer just looked at me with his eyes as big as saucers, worried and scared and not knowing how to help. He pawed me and he licked my face, and I swear I felt him shift his weight to move a little bit closer to me.
Why, why, why? At first I didn't even know what I was asking. Why what? I thought. So I started asking my ceiling more specific questions. Why is this so hard? Why is this happening? Why can't I do this?
And then came this one: Why am I alone?
And it was as if I'd snapped the last piece into the ugliest, most wretched puzzle ever designed. I said it again: Why am I alone?
That was it. That was the question that had torn its way up from my belly the minute I got an error window on my computer. Why am I alone?
Why am I alone, if I am so great?
Why am I alone, if I'm as smart and loving and funny and talented and worthy as I believe I am?
And, wouldn't you know it, the other half of my brain had an answer at the ready: Maybe you're really not those things, after all.
And that's where I'm stopping for now, because this post is monster-sized as it is, and I'm exhausted by the writing of it, and by the experience of going through all those emotions again, in describing them.
It's a bad day, not a bad life.
It's a bad day, not a bad life.
It's a bad day, not a bad life.
And with that, I'm going to wash my face, kiss my sweet pup on his smart bump, and go to sleep so I can take another crack at dominating