The anxiety wakes me at dawn. It starts with a sick feeling in my stomach, then laces up my chest like a corset.
I’m tired, I want to sleep, but it won’t let me.
I lie on my stomach to try and squeeze it out of me. I silently recite the Lord’s Prayer over and over, hoping to divert it.
Nothing works. I am awake.
I am panicked and I have no idea why.
I lead a schizophrenic emotional life. I wander around for most of the month in an indecently happy haze.
Then the “red dog” – PMT – and its faithful companion, anxiety, arrive.
It snuck into my chest sometime last week. I’ve been madly popping evening primrose oil to try and beat it, but it’s not doing much good.
When the red dog arrives, it’s a struggle to like myself.
I am old. I am fat. I am ugly. I am unlovable. I am a failure. I’m a terrible friend. I can’t do anything right.
Life feels very hard.
A section of my brain remains logically unmoved and tells the illogical part to put a sock in it.
The logical section knows hormones are driving the self hate, that this too shall pass.
And while I know this to be true, it doesn’t make it any easier to bear.
It’s also an insidious little beast, digging around in my past and tormenting me with it.
It wants to know when my husband stopped loving me and why.
Am I such an annoying, difficult, awful person that it becomes too much hard work to stay with me?
My logical self reminds me that being dumped after 23 years has turned out rather well.
I’ve been lucky enough to find love again.
Back in those early months of marriage separation, I was convinced I would never meet anyone because of the old/fat/ugly/unloveable/failure thing.
I don’t have that fear any more. I know that if it does, I will survive.
But the fear of not knowing when the love ends remains.
It was the same when I was in my hyper-career phase. The person whose head was about to hit the chopping block was always the last to know. I was terrified of that … the thought of everyone giving me pitying looks, knowing my time was up as I blithely went about my work.
How many years was my head on the marriage chopping block – and my husband giving me pitying looks – without me knowing?
Yes, yes, what does it matter?
When the red dog leaves it won’t. But today … today is another story.
Does the red (or black dog) ever follow you?
Song of the day: Imagine Dragons “Radioactive”