Hello, Panic, my old friend.
It has been eight years since you last attacked, battering the breath from my chest and severing my will from my power.
Your most recent ambush is so relentless that I have lost count of your assaults.
You crept back, insidiously and spider-like. I never saw you coming.
Your infernal intentions have damned all reason and all logic. You seize me in your spindly clutches. You are as forceful as you are fragile. You pirouette atop my chest, only you wear weighted shoes instead of slippers. You surge through my veins. You abscond with every ounce of my composure. You find me in the quietest of spaces and places. You swaddle me in angst and unease. You court me as if I desire you, as if I cannot live without you. You have yet to depart, incessant in your desire for solidarity.
There is no eluding you.
I imagine you consider this a convenient time to have staged your impassioned return. It makes no difference to you what good, what bliss, what happiness exists in my life.
What better reason for you to have struck than that violent car accident, and on the most implausible of days, no less? As the airbag dust levitated, you emerged as if from the hat of a magician. You are nothing if not patient, having lain in wait for all these years. And upon your return, explicit recall from the day, the day exactly one year prior, when my sternum was cracked open and my heart was stopped for the second time in its beating.
I thought I had done the work to recover following my most recent open heart surgery. I promise you, I thought I had. I saw a sound healer, an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, a physical therapist, a mental health therapist and a psychiatrist. I practiced yoga and meditation. I wrote. I cried. I laughed. I socialized. I advocated and fundraised. I volunteered to help others going through similar experiences.
These efforts have not been enough for you. You insist that something is unresolved. You insist that the trauma persist.
I suspect you also found it agreeable to return as you did on account of my continued professional turbulence. After all, nine caseload deaths in one year does seem statistically improbable for a social worker outside the field of hospice. You must know that the collection of so many sad and tragic memories is cumbersome at times. I bet you even found the unthinkable circumstances surrounding several of these deaths too irresistible to avoid.
And surely you did not forget about what would have been my beloved Grandpa Ross’ 91st birthday. How I miss that man. I guess I never realized that you and Grief were such close companions.
In your presence, Panic, I have tried so many things. Deep breathing. Essential oils. Grounding techniques. Mantras. Affirmations. Exercise. Mindfulness. Medication.
At the moment, nothing seems to be helping. At the moment, you are winning.
And so I will ride your wave, Panic. I am certain I will not drown in it, even if it feels like I might. In the wake of your wave is distress. I will not fight you. I will not fight it.
The tide always changes.