Saturday, June 22, 2013

Paranoid

 My first year of college, I took an introductory debate class. I signed up for it for no other reason than the fact that I like to argue and it seemed like it would be easy enough to pass. I doubt very seriously that I would've chosen that class had I realized that the final wasn't so much a test as it was mandatory participation in the parliamentary debate tournament being held at the end of the semester at a neighboring university. I was barely eighteen and unsure of myself, mostly, except for when it came to running my mouth. That? That I could do with wild abandon and I was apparently quite good at it, as I walked away that night with the trophy for First Place Team, Novice and First Place Speaker, Individual. Who knew?

     So now I find myself becoming increasingly frustrated with my lack of ability to get the right words to come out at the right time and the wrong ones to stay the hell in my head, where they belong. It is, I'm come to realize, a nasty side effect of living with the stress of my husband's disorder and its ensuing adventures. We try so hard every damn day, my husband and I, to figure out just the right place in our lives for the Marfan's, just the right amount of import to assign to it. We've thus far been ridiculously unsuccessful.

     Perfect example? I went to my first North Carolina social event by myself this past Sunday, a Superbowl party. Despite the fact that it was populated by people I knew, or at least had met before, I was nervous. Not because I didn't want to go; I did. My husband had to work that evening, but Adam had called earlier in the day and asked if we'd come, so I said I'd go by myself. Adam's parents, whom I like very much, were hosting, plus I hadn't seen him or Carrie in a couple of weeks and I wanted to. I was happy all afternoon, excited, as I finished up the household chores I was working on and got ready to go. I was even fine on the drive from my house to Adam's parents', despite the fact that I had only the vaguest idea of where I was going. By the time I actually walked in the front door, though, it was a different story.

     There weren't a ton of people inside, and only about half of them were new faces to me. I should've been calm, and honestly, it didn't take too long for me to get to that state of being, to relax and enjoy my friends. The first little bit, though, was anything but comfortable. I think Carrie noticed something was off, because she asked me if I was okay and stayed with me, just catching up, until I felt comfortable enough to move around a bit. At the time, I thought it was just nerves from driving in an unfamiliar area and I told her so, that it would pass. Navigational adventures always have a tendency to trip me out, and I'm still not entirely sure that my unfamiliarity with the territory wasn't part of the shakiness. After a long-ass conversation the other night with my husband brought some things to light, though, I'm afraid it might be a little more than that.

     I think part of the reason I was anxious was because I had no idea what to say about my husband, if anything. I didn't know who knew what and whether or not anyone would ask me questions. Truthfully, I never mind if someone does ask a question, because I'm pretty sure it comes from a place of genuine interest and concern. My issue, though, is that I'm suddenly paranoid that I'm talking too much. For someone who prides herself on her way with words, to be suddenly unsure of your footing in the area which was always safest and surest is a terrifying feeling.

     How long this fear has been festering at the back of my mind is anyone's guess. I talk a lot anyway, but when I'm not entirely comfortable, it's like a damned army of words, coming at you with no end in sight. (This is not to be confused with what happens when I am entirely comfortable around someone, which looks like a very similar phenomenon to the untrained eye. Hang around me long enough, you'll be able to tell the difference.) I just want so badly to find a place for my husband's disorder in our everyday, and I can't find it. Walking that line between making it a mundane thing, like the way someone else might discuss painting their bedroom a different color, and giving it more weight, something that I need to give a quick status report on, is rapidly becoming one of the hardest things I've yet attempted.

     It happens at work, too, and it's much worse there, the paranoia that I've said the wrong thing, said too much. About a month after I started, a disabled gentleman came in and I assisted him. It was a longer process than it is with someone who's able-bodied, but he was great, very polite, and knew exactly what he wanted, which always makes the transactions go more smoothly. At the end of the transaction, I came around the counter, tucked his purchase in his jacket pocket for him and opened the door so that he could wait outside for his transport. When I came back in, my supervisor complimented me on how nicely the interaction had gone. Without thinking, I said, "Well, my husband is disabled, so.." and shrugged.

     Immediately, I wanted to take it back, the revelation that my husband wasn't quite healthy. What if my co-workers were now thinking, "Why did she say that? What does that have to do with anything?" A non-neurotic person would probably not have jumped to that particular what-if, but I'm actually a lot neurotic and the added stress of a third, very unwelcome entity in my marriage has slowly been preying on that weakness, apparently. How I haven't realized it before now is beyond me, but even my busy brain can't cover all the bases and potential bases all the time.

     While we're being completely honest here, I might as well go ahead and admit that I've noticed a tendency to second-guess myself lately after the majority of my social interactions. Was I short and snippy with that person? Was my loving sarcasm lost on this person and they think I'm just being bitchy? Is the worry about my husband's condition today showing through the veneer of smart-assery and rapid-fire talking? I can't get out of my head lately and where once I thought it was just because I'm a stranger in a strange land who simply needed time to adjust, I'm now fairly certain that a good amount of what I'm feeling is due to this razor-wire tightrope I keep trying to walk.

     I think, when all is said and done, I'm going to have to just push through, like always. I will never not live in my head, I will never not be neurotic. It's as sure a part of life as death and taxes, if I may be so cliche. Like everything else I ramble about on this blog, it's going to be something that I'm going to have to learn to work with so it doesn't keep working against me. I think I want to open up to my husband more about this and try really hard to not just journal it to death, maybe getting somewhere, maybe not. Journaling's kind of my thing, my safe place to work it all out, but this time I fail to see how burying myself with pen and paper is going to help me learn to interact with people on a less anxiety-inducing level.

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