So as a child, I used to suffer horrendous insomnia. No one seemed to be able to fathom why a bright, well mannered 7 year old had trouble sleeping. I always have been fearful of things, especially things happening to those whom I love.
I was 3 1/2 when my little sister was born. I had waited for what seemed like forever, asking every single morning "is my little brother or sister coming today?" I couldn't contain my excitement. Finally after all my "patience," she was born with a heart complication that sent her immediately to intensive care in a specialized children's hospital. And I remember it like it was yesterday almost 23 years later. Solemn looks from my parents and grandparents, the house being too quiet. Luckily, I still got to go and see my sister…and all the tubes protruding from her tiny little body.
I am happy to say that my sister is alive and well and one of my heart's greatest joys. We have been through a lot, together, and as individuals. But that early experience with fear and anticipation of the worst has left me with a lot of fear in my daily life.
As a small child I lay awake holding my beloved siamese cat tight, worried he may pass away while I was sleeping. When my mom went out in the evening, I worried she was going to get in a car accident. My father, working the afternoon shift in a factory, was always a source of concern for me when I found out that his job was quite dangerous and he could easily become injured. One night, when I was about 7 or 8, he was driving home from work at 3 in the morning and one of the poles that secure the back of a semi truck flew off the back end, the pole leaving a giant hole in the windshield of my dad's car. My father was lucky to be alert and ducked, the pole coming inches from his face, and he didn't swerve or hit anything, the road being nearly empty that time of night. I still remember being awake in my bed and hearing the phone ring, my god, the terror that used to bring me when the phone rang at an inappropriate time of night. My dad was okay, but the experience was vivid in my mind as if I'd been there and lived the whole thing.
The point is, all these people survived. My cat lived to be 20 years old and died peacefully when we were out to dinner one night. My sister is more than okay, and my dad is happily retired and for the most part, healthy for his age. So why did all this fear accumulate inside of me to the level that it is today?
My early 20s were the only reprieve I can recall from this paranoia. I was very adventurous, free spirited and probably a lot more pleasant to be around. I don't know if you can chalk it up to post-adolescent narcissism, or the fact that I was finally on my own after 21 years in my mom's house under her constant watchful eye. At age 23 I was ballsy as ever, packed up everything into my 2 door Pontiac and drove, by myself, to Phoenix, AZ in the span of less than two days. I napped in McDonalds' parking lots, grabbed a coffee at the drive thru and got back on the road. I felt my freedoms start to close in on me, however, while living in Phoenix and came back home to Michigan after only a year. People I'd trusted were proving themselves untrustworthy, a roomate stole from me, and I grew a lot more suspicious of my fellow man.
Here I am today with, what I look at it as, plenty to lose. I'm terrified to lose my boyfriend to an accident, or one of those random heart attacks you hear about 29 year olds having without warning. I feel anxious at my job because I love it, and am afraid I'm going to lose it. I worry about my family, especally my sister, who I've recently healed a broken relationship with following our parents' battlefield divorce. I don't know if it's because I feel undeserving of everything I have that I feel like it will be taken away, or if I'm just a textbook case of paranoid. All I know is that it gets really, really bad sometimes.
I've known people to have really bad things happen to them and it doesn't help my situation. Yes, it's very selfish to look at other's tragedies and become instantly afraid that the same thing is going to happen to me. So why do I do it?
The reason I bring this up today is that I have an unusal feeling of dread inside me right now. I am not the type of person to always trust my gut feelings, because, usually they are just a symptom of my paranoia. I wish I could say I always know when something bad is going to happen, and it's half true, when something bad does happen I'm usually anticipating it because I'm always anticipating it.
Five years ago I would have bungee jumped off a flaming building while swallowing a sword, and today I'm terrified to even check my email because I'm afraid of bad news.