Living, afraid

I have spent a month or more being too afraid.

I’ve always been someone who fears things deeply, but that’s often when I have reason to fear; my fears go to the extreme, the worst case, envisioning how terribly it all will end, but they are not sparked at random. There are clinical terms for the things I don’t experience— social anxiety, well, I’m usually not afraid of interacting with people— generalized anxiety, well, I don’t think of myself as someone who curls up in a ball at just anything. I merely, “merely” struggle to keep calm under pressure. That’s all it’s been, until recently.

Something has changed in a strange way, so strange that it could almost be considered an annoyance. It wasn’t the knowledge that the entire global biosphere has just over a decade to be saved from potentially total collapse. That knowledge is painful, deep, abiding, and made the sadness of autumn and winter all the sharper, fashioning it into a real grief. But if anything, that all made me less afraid for a time. Why should I be afraid of obstacles in my daily life that are so petty next to apocalypse? Nevertheless, at the onset of spring I began to deal with something profoundly new to me: the cat I’ve had for almost eleven years was ill, and although he’s recovering now, there was a stretch when I thought I might lose him.

I prepared for it. I made sure to tell him all the things I wanted him to know, if he could ever understand, and I researched and decided what I would do with his remains if the moment came, and I even had a plan for contacting an at-home euthanasia service if his suffering was too great. While he may be on the mend, I’m coming off the end of many sleepless nights, and my tension from those has spread into other sources of stress. Now I keep winding myself up into a silent, heart-pounding frenzy, not at my cat, but at my normally dormant phobias. I am afraid of fire. I am afraid of illness in general. I am afraid of loud noises. Incidents involving any of these things, or the threat of these things, are making my blood burn. Flooded with cortisol.

It’s bad for me, and I want it to stop. I am exploring what I can do to make it stop, and I have already made certain resolutions. Right now, though, while I’ve had a few minutes to reflect again about all of this, I’ve decided to write here, because I haven’t written so fully on anything in my life for a while. I think that’s something I’ve lacked, something that could have even contributed to my fear. I’m going to try being brave now. I still remember what that felt like, and if it takes writing and writing and writing until I can get that feeling back, then write I must.

Here ends another dispatch from late capitalism.

Llywelyn Jones

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