Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday.
It’s also the one year anniversary of the last time we spoke.
“My wife and I will leave you the hell alone.”
He’s been as good as his word. I wonder if he uses my name or if, like my mom, I’m “Someone” in his stories.
My body remembers anniversaries. I’m trying to speak gently to it, to let it feel what it needs to feel. I’m trying to get through the next two days without another panic attack.
“I never expect my body to remember things, but it does.” My friend gets it. She says what I need to hear. “I try to speak gently to my body, to let it know it’s okay that it’s upset.”
I laughed when she said that. “Really? I usually let it know I’m pissed it’s interfering with my day.” I’m trying her way. I’m trying to be gentle to myself, to let my body have a mind of its own. “We can do this. Two more days. Breathe, girl. Breathe. I’m sorry this happened to you. You are beautiful. Breathe.”
Anxiety attacks are terrible. I’ve spent all week feeling anxious about anxiety attacks. Helpful, I know.
It was cold last week. I got home from work not too late and set about fixing myself some food. My partner had made himself comfortable in bed as I chatted away loudly, voice carrying through our open bedroom door. Drink in hand I wandered in to join him. Mid sentence I faltered. I tried again, repeating the last word and pushing ahead with my story– and stopped. I sat down, took a deep breath, tried again. My story dissolved into pointlessness and tapered out. T looked at me attentively.
“I’m sorry, I can’t finish my story while you’re wearing those.” Unceremoniously and without hesitation I removed his white thermal pants. I hoped I was playful when I tossed them on the floor, but I was afraid it was too clearly a banishment.
“Those were keeping me warm.”
“I know. I’m sorry you’re cold.”
He took a long look at me. “You have…. interesting triggers.”
I love that he knew a trigger when he saw it. It keeps the wounds clean. I tossed my fuzzy blue PJ pants at him. “I didn’t mean to make you naked without asking.”
White thermals: my dad’s go-to in cold weather. Camping, fishing, working, stacking firewood, Christmas tree hunting. They were ever present. They were warm and comfy and rural and sensible. The happy times are triggers now? Great. Didn’t see that coming.
“I’m having a hard time being inside my body.” It was only a few minutes after I’d hurled them away but the thermals were out of sight, out of mind. I didn’t know what I felt, or why.
“What does that mean?”
“That’s… that’s all I’ve got.”
“What can I do to help?”
“I– hold me?” My body took control. It clenched itself into a fetal ball to keep itself inside my skin. He squeezed me, but not hard enough. Not frantically enough. Not like he wanted me not to explode. My body twitched, it sobbed. I didn’t know why my body hated me. I didn’t understand why he didn’t know he needed to save me. I pushed him away hard, left him behind and threw myself onto the couch, squeezed myself into an even tighter ball.
Clench. Twitch. Twitch.
Remember to breathe.
Mindfulness. Breathe. Why do I feel afraid? Why am I angry? There is no danger. There is no harshness. Breathe. Relax. Relax your spine so you can breathe deeply. Relax your fingers. Uncurl your hands. Breathe. You’re so cold. Stand up. Go rest.
Those damn thermals.
I melted back into T’s arms, pulled the blankets tight. He squeezed me hard– loving hard, not world-is-ending hard. Because he loves me, and the world isn’t ending.
Two more days. We can do this. Two days.
I miss my dad.