An Anxious Night

An Anxious Night April 14, 2024

a desert buzzard flying against a blue sky
image via Pixabay

 

 

 

I had a bit of an anxious night.

I haven’t suffered too much from being anxious lately, but I’m afraid it’s creeping up on me just now.

I was trying to do our taxes. I know I should have finished our taxes by now, I’ve just been overwhelmed and dreading them. I had my stack of 1099s from all my writing projects. I had my notes on all the little expenses writers have here and there. I had the calculator on my phone. I was praying we’d have enough for a rebate with the earned income tax credit, since writers don’t get a W-2 with the taxes taken out and can’t look forward to a lot of money in tax season. Adrienne needed bread for her lunches and was hoping to browse the clearance racks at the sporting goods store for summer tomboy clothes. I was tired of borrowing help from friends. I was tired of constantly getting notifications that the checking account was overdrawn by fifty-something cents because I lost count at the grocery store. The landlord was patiently letting us have a few more days and I was nervous about that too. I just wanted a boost. Maybe more than a boost. Maybe a treat. Maybe just once I could drive into Robinson and do some shopping for fun.

By two in the morning, I was so exhausted that the numbers seemed to be orbiting in front of my face. I was beginning to panic that our income would be literally just a few dollars too high to keep from losing our insurance, and we were either going to get a lousy hundred dollars in a rebate or end up owing a few. No chance at catching up on anything. There never is.

Of all the inexplicable things about life in the United States, the most mystifying one is that the poverty line is set so artificially low that you can qualify for zero assistance on paper while still not being anywhere near making ends meet. The gulf between poor and comfortable is enormous. This doesn’t make any sense.

I couldn’t take it anymore, so I crawled into bed.

I set up my sensory nest of pillows and curled, up, still anxious, still worrying.

Thoughts chased each other’s tails as I drifted off. I tried to bat them away with logic as they got more and more ridiculous. Did you pay your car insurance? No, that’s not necessary until next week. Did you consolidate that student debt yet? No, I was going to work on that Tuesday after taxes are over, since there are two more weeks. What if they change the April 30th deadline? Then I’ll be no worse off than I am now.  What if you accidentally commit a federal crime by making a mistake on your taxes? Then they’ll audit me and I’ll realize my mistake and file a tax amendment and get on a payment plan. Did you miss your deadline for the Lives of the Saints project? No, I’m just finishing editing that and it’s not due until May First. I checked that due date three times. What if those kids who were stealing cars in LaBelle steal Serendipity?  Maybe they’ll fill her up with gas before they abandon her two blocks away like they did with the other cars. What if Iran and Israel start a nuclear war? Then I hope I’m vaporized instantly instead of dying slow. What if the furnace blows up? Ditto, I hope I die quick. What if you’re in mortal sin? Then Jesus is unreasonable because I’m doing the best I can.

I fell asleep all of a sudden.

That usually doesn’t happen, especially when I’m anxious. I usually fall asleep slowly after a few anxiety attacks. This time, I was so exhausted that I went unconscious, quickly, like anesthesia kicking in,  right in the middle of my brain’s nightly interrogation.

I dreamed I was with a group of friends– oddly, as I don’t have any friends, at least friends I hang out with in person. All my friends live far away, and I talk to them online. But in the dream they were physically here. I haven’t been physically present with a group of friends in almost a year.

In the dream, we thought we were outside, but we weren’t. We were trapped inside a gigantic high rise building, with vaulted ceilings painted to look like sky, and the building was inhabited by an immense predatory bird. The wicked witch who had trapped us in the building called the bird a “condor,” but it wasn’t. It was much, much bigger than a condor. It was a buzzard about the size of a semi truck. It was hiding, somewhere up in the gigantic ceiling. And it was hungry for human flesh.

For awhile, we hid from the condor in an elevator, but people kept opening the door to try to use the elevator. We hid in dark corridors but nothing was safe enough. Finally, somehow, I came up with the idea of just leaving the building and going outside, so we went. It was that easy. We found the big glass revolving doors and pushed through them to the outside and went on the run. We kept sprinting down a gravel road through the countryside until we got to a pleasant little cottage where we tried to hide out, but of course the cottage was haunted by vampires, so we fled again. We ran over grassy hills, through sunshine, under white puffy clouds, and even though it was all so dangerous I felt hopeful.

I turned around to look back at that death trap on the horizon. It looked a bit like an evil version of The Emerald City. Hovering above it was the roc, wings outspread big as a daikaiju. But it was far away.

I woke up at nearly noon, on a sunny Sunday.

Adrienne still needed gluten free bread, and the checking account was still cross with me. About thirty more hours left to finish those taxes.

Jimmy the mechanic came by, explaining what we’d need to fix Adrienne’s bike tire. I remembered that I am, gradually, surrounding myself with neighborhood friends.

I went out to check on the garden, where the peas and onions are coming up.

I got on Twitter to tell my online friends about my funny nightmare.

They all bantered with me– can you eat a roc? Could we make fabulous hats out of the feathers? Could we stop running, don cowboy hats and go on the offensive? Could we rope it like Pecos Bill lassoing the tornado?

I felt like we could.

I guess there’s a bit of fight left in me after all.

That’s what I’ve been up to lately. How’s everyone else’s weekend?

 

 

Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

 

 

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