Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Stream Of Consciousness: On Fear

I have been living inside my head too much lately. It's a side-effect of being home alone too often. TCBIM is gone 5 nights out of 7 and I'm left here to think, stew, feel, get myself in a tizzy and over what? Sometimes it's something big, sometimes it's nothing at all.

Watching the BBC news last night, seeing the statistics that 1 in 3 Iraqis are living without running water, decent nutrition and sanitation. Seeing the liquid brown eyes of small children, living 10 to a room, fathers, brothers, uncles, gone, no door, cooking facilities outside and yet their eyes are so trusting, so solemn, boring into my soul, making me cry, making me rail, making me quiver with sorrow and anger, making me clutch my babies close to me.

Boo, not understanding my tears, says "You cry, Mama? It's ok, I here, it's ok," as she pats my shoulder with her chubby, well-fed hands and even though we are struggling, we are behind on the mortgage, on the light bill, we have food. We have a roof. We have each other, all together, healthy, whole, not shell-shocked by war, not having to cook on a stove outside because there is no kitchen, just a room with a bed. We are safe.

Hearing of this child left in a car, accidentally, by a parent, these girls raped and murdered in their home, the next horror perpetuated on a small, defenseless person, a person who didn't ask for these things to happen, who just wants love and safety and someone to trust in and it breaks my heart wide open, the pain almost visceral as I hear stories, stories I try to avoid (don't watch the news, don't watch the news, a mantra in my head), knowing what they do to me, how they rip me apart, exposing that naked quick, the part of me that cries and clings to my children, hoping, begging, pleading for nothing to ever happen to them because what if? What if? What ifs keep me awake at night, keep me hanging over the crib, keep me sitting on the edges of beds, watching them breathe, keep me walking close behind them, fear knotting my stomach as the possibilities for injury, for hurt, for anything, everything unfold in my head, making it hard to stand upright at times, making my brain scramble and whirl, making my knees turn to jelly, my heart aching just at the thought.

Fear makes me bolt upright in the middle of the night, makes me prowl the house after dark, making sure doors are locked, ovens are shut off, children are safe in their beds. I thought, foolishly, that as my children got older, got a little less reliant on me, that I would fear less. Instead, fear and I are bosom enemies, uneasy bedfellows. Fear that if the fear stops, if the unthinkable happens, I will surely go mad. Fear that the fear itself will drive me mad. Fear has given me Red Shoes, has taken me into its arms for an endless dance, a dance I don't know how to end, a dance I do, day and night, not knowing how to stop, unsure that I will survive.


Anonymous said...

I understand, dear neighbor. I, too, think I sometimes get quite paranoid because I am alone here with the kids most of the time (hubby works in a different state).

And if I am not extra careful with me and my children, who will be? The news scares me SO much. That home invasion last week was 20 minutes from me.

Just know that what you experience is not uncommon. And I just don't know how I can turn my brain off. And if I don't, what will happen then?


floreksa said...

You've climbed into my brain and expressed exactly what I feel day and night.

Maureen Fitzgerald said...

I often feel the same way. I remember with longing the safety that I felt when I was younger. I can't even dream that moving back there will help me keep my family safe, because “back there” has changed too. It’s actually not far from that horrible home invasion (yes – the reports reached all the way out here). I continue to fight to not be scared and not let the evil win that one small battle.

Cristina said...

I totally get this. Just today I heard about 10 children who were adopted by a woman who kept them handcuffed in a room while she collected some kind of money from the government on them. She lived in a mansion.

This kind of stuff makes me so sad. The violation of children is the most awful thing on earth.

Angewl said...

You already know that I am also filled with fear. I am always worried about a fire or a car wreck. I get up at night and double check things. I am afraid I will wake up and something will have just happened while I was sleeping. (wonder if thats one reason I am awake until 6,7,8am?)I am just frozen sometimes. When I am driving, my heart will start beating faster and I get so scared, afraid something is going to happen.

beautiful, heart-wrenching blog.

Crazed Nitwit said...

My biggest fear came true. Not in the way where someone else harmed my children. In the way where you and McHub carry a fatal metabolic disease and our youngest son died from it. It's a disease where one in 27 million that two carriers will get together, let alone have kids. There is no pretest. We didn't know. My son died at the age of 10 months and we learned we could not have anymore children together. Each child we might have had a 25% chance of having this always fatal syndrome.

I survived through it. While you think you would go mad, I'm willing to bet you have reserves of strength you aren't aware of. I never thought I could deal with this. People ask how. My answer~I had two healthy boys who needed me and you just do it. Hour to hour, day to day.

I sincerely pray nothing bad ever happens to your child or you.

Lyrehca said...

Great post. Sadly, I too can relate.

Shannon said...

I had to stop watching the news AND Oprah since I've had my kids.

I'm so sensitive to any kind of negative story.

I just read headlines and listen to sound bytes to get the jist of a story.

Stomper Girl said...

I can't bear this stuff either. Not even make-believe movies about violence or war.

I hope TCBYM can be home a bit more often for you, so you can untizz.

Anonymous said...

We live in a scary world. I, too, was totally struck by fear after that triple murder in CT. My husband has taken to sleeping with a baseball bat next to his side of the bed. We live in a safe neighborhood, but so did that family.

Great post.

Jane, Pinks & Blues Girls

Nicole P said...

I don't know how parents function in today's world - I can't imagine.

This post, Julia, is just gorgeous - it tore at my heart - but it's gorgeous...

Kelly said...

I so get this. Frequently, I have to take a sleeping pill just to be able to fall asleep, since I lie in bed pondering the 'what-ifs.' This kind of anxiety is so big, so all-consuming, in a world that's clearly gone mad.

That family in CT, I've been thinking about a lot. Because if you cannot ensure the safety of your children in your own home, what do we have left? My heart goes out to that father, who must be so impossibly shattered.

And every day brings us more chaos, and more death and destruction from Iraq.

So, yeah, to sum it up, I get this. Totally.

Ms. Skywalker said...

It's a scary world, isn't it, when we have kids and aren't sure how to sort danger from all the other things.

Lovely post.

Anonymous said...

Are you inside my head?
I worry constantly about the outside world and its effects on my son and what's happening to the children around me.
I keep most of it inside, so as to keep WB locke up or have someone lock me up - but its constantly with me.
Thank you for so eloquently saying what I am thinking.

Binky said...

I have dug a pretty deep hole in which to stick my head trying to ignore just the stories you describe. It was pretty hard to avoid the Cheshire triple murders, though. But I just took a gulp of air and went back into my hole. I'm pretty sure there's a healthier way to deal with the fear that I haven't figured out yet. At least I know I'm not alone.

Kevin said...

Your post reminded me of a book review I recently read (I don't remember where the review was): The Gift of Fear. No doubt fear is hard to cope with, but there is some comfort in knowing we have it there for a reason.