I wanted to share with you a more personal insight into me, my life and how my mind makes it challenging at times. This is not about fear of the modern world of warfare and the devastating acts we have more recently witnessed on our streets, this is about my fear of the everyday.
Today I read a news article about a 20 year old girl who was murdered, having arranged to meet an older guy she’d met in a club. Whilst the story was tragic, it was the note left by her mum at the site where she was found that rocked me to my core. It simply said ‘I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you’ – it had me from the word sorry.
And it hit a chord in me, as I’m sure it would in any mother, because I realise that so much of my anxiety about my beautiful, soulful, bubble of life called Etta is because of fear and what ifs.
There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t imagine a call from the nursery saying she’s choked or hit her head and then the pause to tell me it’s really bad news. I know it’s illogical and highly unlikely but it’s possible. And that’s the terrifying bit.
I’m so scared that the fear I feel have now about her bumping her head, or eating poisonous leaves etc will be a million times worse on the first night she goes out drinking, on a blind date or travelling – away from me and towards everything I definitely can’t save her from.
I’d also not given thought to the life long sentence of panic until my mum casually told me that it never stops, it just changes. And she’s right. When I hit a particular debilitating patch of anxiety during my second trimester my mum in turn was in a terrible state. She admitted to feeling so helpless hearing me sobbing and spiralling deeper every day but with no way of making it stop.
I am also scared because I can’t help but feel that I made some bad choices in my life, thankfully none that ever had any nasty consequences, but all those nights I walked through deserted underpasses home because I had my Bacardi breezer confidence in tow. Taxis I shared home with strangers when I’d missed my stop, or just dodgy taxis home as a vulnerable young woman. They could have all had very different endings. So what if this happens with Etta?
I can feel so acutely now the fear that my mother must have felt. It was all the more poignant for her as her mother (my granny) was brutally murdered when I was a baby, so I have in many ways been such a focus and distraction for her particularly in the early days. A baby was also a terrifying prospect without any advice from her mother or without a strong maternal instinct (her words).
Etta is the apple of her eye, I truly can’t tell you much she adores her grandchild. Initially she was worried that she might not feel the bond, but it’s the exact opposite. However, the fear is still there for my mum too.
My most potent example is planning a trip to Egypt a few months ago and my mum being beyond a state about how safe it was, convinced that our plane was going to be blown up. I remember her sobbing on the phone to me, begging me not to go when she uttered the phrase ‘if you die I just want to die with you and Etta. I couldn’t bear to be left behind’. My heart broke.
Now I know it’s not healthy to live life consumed by ‘what ifs’, in a state of constant fear, but it’s healthy to know what your triggers are – to recognise and acknowledge unhelpful thoughts in order to move beyond them. I will always have anxiety lurking beneath or above the surface, but I have my coping mechanisms and they normally work. But most people who know me will say I’m an upbeat and positive person and this is the person I want Etta to know.
So, I will work very hard to not transfer my anxiety on to Etta, to stop her from living a full and exciting life, because of my terror at what the worst outcome could be. I owe that to her as my mother has tried so hard to do with me.