I’ve written a lot (and a lot) about how I struggle with anxiety when the dude goes out of town. When he leaves, there a lot happening: I get anxious about his travel (will he get to the airport ok? Will he make his flight? Will it be pleasant? etc, etc, on repeat until he gets home), I get anxious about the dog (what if she takes forever to go to the bathroom in the morning and I’m late to work? What if she pees in the apartment? What if she has another episode like when she was pooping blood? What if she gets super hungry?), I get anxious about being able to function at work while worrying about the dude and the dog, I get anxious about sleeping because I don’t always sleep so well without the dude, and on and on and on. It can be so exhausting.
But not this time. This time has been amazingly chill. Instead of waking up every hour or not being able to fall asleep, I knocked out last night and only woke up about half an hour early. Instead of feeling like I had to go to the bathroom a million times when I got up and/or wanting to vomit, I just felt a little twinge in my chest this morning that was gone by the time I was dressed for work. Instead of being preoccupied by worries about the dog all day, I’ve been thinking I wonder how she’s doing about once an hour.
This is like a whole new world and, if I can help it, I’m not going back to the old one. I’ll stay in this new one and learn how it works without giving anyone smallpox, thankyouverymuch.
I credit this amazingness to the shitload of work I do daily to manage anxiety. I do yoga, I track my symptoms, I write about it, I talk about it, I think about it, I do workbooks. This all takes a lot of time and there are days when I really don’t want to, but today – this feeling normal at a time when I’ve historically felt very not normal – is the payoff. And it’s awesome. I’m also extremely lucky that I have a support system that is demonstrative in its love for me: my sister and the bird have both texted me to see how I’m doing. I feel so taken care of.
I would encourage you to figure out what types of situations make you anxious, and to do some very specific work around those with meditation, therapy, or just processing your own thoughts about it. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I get so anxious when the dude leaves, and I’ve realized that it’s because I can’t protect him or help him if something goes wrong, and the same for the dog. And that gets me right to my core; at the root of my love for the people in my life is my need to protect them and care for them. When I love someone – romantically or otherwise – I want to make their life easier, better, funnier. I want to shoulder some of their burdens so that they don’t have to carry so much. I want to help them be the version of themselves that they want to be. I want to be there for them to share in their joy, and I want to support them when shit goes downhill. When the dude goes out of town, my brain automatically goes onto high alert about him and the dog because I can’t be physically there for either of them. I worry that I won’t be able to support or protect them in the way they might need, and as we know, those ruminating thoughts can escalate real quick.
There’s less of this around the dude because bro is a grown-ass man and can take care of himself. I still worry, but never about anything he can control because he is insanely competent and basically the best most smartest person ever. But I do worry about the dog, and to be honest, it takes a lot of work to deal with that. I spent more than a few minutes this morning (read: the entire time I was getting ready plus my commute) thinking about scenarios that might happen to the dog while I’m at work today and she’s alone. And to be honest, they’re not that bad. What if she pees in the apartment? Wouldn’t be the first time. She peed in the bed while I was next to her one time. That’s why there’s a rubber sheet on the bed and basically every type of surface/textile cleaner under the kitchen sink. What if she gets sick and starts pooping blood again? Ok, so that was super scary, but I haven’t seen her eat anything untoward lately and I’m sure the dude would have told me if he’d seen that. If that happens, I’ll take her to the vet, and then come home and clean it. It actually happens to dogs all the time. What if she gets really hungry? Happens to everyone. I left her two kinds of treats and some dry food this morning. She doesn’t really like eating when we’re not home, but hopefully she will if she gets hungry enough.
I know there are other, worse scenarios, but to be honest, those aren’t the ones plaguing me this time and I don’t really feel the need to open that particular can of worms if they’re not trying to get out. If I’m not worried about it, I don’t need to make myself worried about it.
The dude comes home tomorrow and I’m super excited, but it is really nice to know that I’m ok. It’s good to know that some day if he gets a job where he has to travel a lot, or if he needs to be gone for a while instead of a few days, I’m gonna be alright.