The panic happens all too frequently. I’ve lived with it my whole life, the root of it going all the way back to when I was a very small child.
I’m sure it began that first time she walked out the door, me searching a whole block that felt as big as the whole world, when I realized life wasn’t safe, even though I couldn’t grasp that concrete thought and articulate those words. Life. Is. Not. Safe.
The fear was reinforced when she would disappear again and again, when she couldn’t face her own life, stress, mess, when she was angry at him so she couldn’t look at me because I am too much like him.
Then he died and in my anger I killed God. The fear took on a whole new level. I couldn’t leave home. If I left home surely the rest of them would die and I would be completely, utterly alone. I clung to her despite her flaws because she was the only parent I had left.
Five years later I managed to leave home. I entered the safety of the USAF with all its regulations and order. But there was no safety or order in my house. I married him and he turned out to be unsafe too. I ran out the door everyday, relieved to go to a safe place, only to be terrified to return to that house at the end of my shift, wishing I could just run away.
Even when I made him leave for good, I wasn’t safe. He called, harassed, followed. No place was safe. When he broke into my house that morning, I thought I was going to die, literally.
They transferred me to a base in Spain. Then I crashed. Hard. High octane adrenalin finally ran out. It was the worst depression to hit me since he died 10 years earlier. I drank to feel better. Everyday. For 6 months. The boy safely in her care at home in the states because I couldn’t even take care of me.
When a person is bombarded with this much stress, it’s easy to see why there is panic, anxiety, depression. But when everything is good?
I think too many years of unsafe broke a valve in my brain, the one that regulates the neurotransmitters. The smallest stress sends my brain into hyperdrive and before I can say Bob’s your uncle, I’m having a panic attack over nothing.
My life has been war. I’m still trying to recover.
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