A feeling of impending doom

11 Jan

I have always suffered from anxiety. For as long as I can remember. I just didn’t know to call it anxiety. You could say that I’m somewhat of a control freak.  If you wished to make the understatment of the century, that’s definitely what you’d say.  When I was younger, I would write out a list of rules that people had to follow at my birthday party and would cry when they didn’t want to follow my sucking-all-the-life-out-of-the-party rules.  (Yeah, I was super popular.)  And afterwards, I would get this really weird feeling in my stomach, like I had screwed up irrevocably and the world was going to end because I cried during my party.

That feeling stayed with me.  Not just in situations when I thought I’d screwed up but in situations where I had the potential to screw up. When I’d be on my way to play practice and I knew the boy I liked would be at rehearsal that night, I would feel it.  Or right before I went on stage for that play.  Or the minute the door closed behind my parents when they dropped me off at college my freshman year.

I remember one night finally figuring out what I was feeling.  It was senior year of college and I walked into my roomate’s bedroom and I told her I this sense of impending doom. Like everything was coming to come crashing down around me any second and I’d just be sitting there in a pile of rubble that used to be my life.  And she laughed and said, “Impending doom, huh? Well, if things are coming crashing down, stay away from me.”  So I laughed too and probably ended up going out to the bar or something with her that night.  But I could never permanently shake the feeling.

It’s gotten worse lately.  I replay conversations in my head and rephrase what I said and think of what I should have said and mostly what I should have left unsaid.  I worry about the future. I worry about all the things that I don’t have any control over.  I worry about when we will have kids. And what people will think of whatever decision we make when we decide to have kids.  I worry about people thinking I’m too old to be having my first child.  I worry about what our families must whisper behind our backs. Married six years and no baby to show for it. Obviously people know.  I’ve been saying “hopefully soon” to the baby question for about three years now.

And I realize this worrying is all for nothing.  I worried for a long time that we would have problems having kids.  But it was never this. In my worries, we’d have no trouble conceiving. It was miscarriages I feared.  Preterm labor.  Having my baby born but with a defect that would cost it his life. These were the problems that had happened in my family.  Surely, this would happen to me.  I never thought I would have trouble getting to the conception point.

So, all that worrying I did. What was it for?  It stressed me out beyond reason about the WRONG PROBLEM.  I was so busy worrying about the problems I had created in my mind that I was completely unprepared to face the problems that actually arose.   So now I have all these new worries in my head about what people are thinking of me and I’m wondering what it is around the corner that I’m not seeing.  What’s the real thing that’s going to my life come crashing down around me this time?

And I realize that many of my worries don’t make sense.  No one is silently judging me for not having kids. If anything, they’re feeling sad for us.  No one is going to care how old I am when I have my first kid. I just turned 31.  That’s not old.  But that’s the problem with anxiety. It’s not always rational.  And if we do have problems even after we finally conceive a child, then we’ll deal with those the same way we dealt with the ones we’ve had so far.  For all my fear of the world coming crashing down, it hasn’t really happened. I’m sad and I’m scared and I totally confess to crying when I see a cute baby or an ultrasound and I can’t control the envy when I hear a friend is pregnant. (Which is like ALL of them.)  But I’m still here, living my life.  And it’s not so terribly different from the life I was living before.

So knowing all this. Piecing all this together.  Why is it still so hard to shake that feeling of impending doom?

Updated to add: I’ve closed comments on this entry because I’ve been getting a lot of spam on it.  If you’d like to comment, feel free to email me.

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