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Leaving Anxiety

Monday, April 7, 2014
Posted By: 
Jeannine Love

I’ve never been very good at leaving. I’ll look at the clock, think I have plenty of time to accomplish the twenty things that need to happen before I walk out the door, and suddenly five minutes before I’m supposed leave I realize I should start getting ready—and that I’m going to be late. Not only does this mean I’m often late, but I often forget things. I’ve worked to compensate for this inborn propensity for lateness by planning to leave earlier than I need to—inevitably meaning I’ll leave just a few minutes later than I’m supposed to, rather than, say, twenty.

As a result, in addition to all of the other roles Aric played in my life, he was also my handler. Every night he bugged me to get to bed at a decent hour so I could get enough sleep, instead of becoming distracted by another task. Then in the morning he’d pester me to get up and just before I walked out the door, he’d run through a check list: wallet, house keys, work keys, phone, computer, books, food… And, sure enough, on the days he skipped this routine (usually because he was on the phone or asleep), I almost always forgot something.

Even on the days he did go through the checklist, I’d usually end up coming back into the apartment at least once, usually to double-check that I’d unplugged or turned off some random potential fire hazard (steamer, iron, stove, toaster). Out the door and then immediately back in. And, Aric was there waiting with a big grin, he knew the first goodbye of the morning wouldn't be the last. Of course, later in the day, when it was time to leave work, I was just as bad. I’d call Aric to tell him I was leaving, and find myself still in my office a half hour, sometimes even an hour, later.

Now that Aric is no longer here, this problem has only gotten worse. I find that I have near panic attacks when it is time to leave either my apartment or my office. I’ll do three or four walk-throughs of my apartment, and orally go through Aric’s old checklists, on any given day before I can finally force myself out the door in the morning. And now I end up going out and back in and out again, two to four times instead of just once. In the evening I’ll find myself still at work an hour, sometimes two or three, after I had intended to go home. And, morning and evening, as I walk to the train station, there is a feeling of dread. Of something not being right. Something being forgotten. Something missing.

Maybe this is just me missing Aric. Maybe this is my normal anxiety amplified because I know I still have widow brain. Maybe this is because Aric died unexpectedly just hours after I left the hospital – after being assured he’d make it through the night. Or maybe, just maybe, I’m simply finally falling apart.

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