108 Anxieties Left to Buoy

I fell behind on blogging yesterdayFrom North On’s weekly post came upon me so sudden—and I hadn’t traveled anywhere in the previous week; so I’d no idea what to write, when it came time to sit at the keyboard.

At first, I thought about reaching into the past; but I wasn’t feeling in the mood to walk along my memory bank. Some days last week, I felt so anxious at the thought of outside, I hadn’t even left the house—although, I gardened in the backyard—so rather than invite myself into the painful closet of recollection, I meditated. Like a lot. Broke my 14th hour today:


I’ve become wondrously creative at updating Instagram from within my bedroom.

I live with phobias, social anxieties, and depression, and lately, they’re come upon me with pitchforks and torches, shouting their demands. The coping mechanisms I used to keep these fears at bay do not work as well as they used to. So I’ve resorted to stranger coping mechanisms, like hiding in closets, and making lines out of ketchup… and all of these self-regulating responses happen before I realize I’m doing it:


My stomach issues are triggered by anxiety—not to mention my amygdala’s fight-flight response—so though these fears often do not feel tangible or real, (especially when I try to describe them to other people, to place them to words,) they still have very real and tangible effects on my daily life.

Nonetheless, I wanted to touch 108 of these fears—rotating them gently in my hands, acknowledging them through my writing—to see if I could leave just a few of them here to buoy, to lift the weight; but I also intend to write freely, with forgiveness directed towards myself before I even complete the draft, because I know these fears have never fit into words well before, at least when I approach them directly.

I think part of it is that I’m afraid to truly write about being afraid.

  1. I feel nervous and fluttery, like the wind will carry me away;
  2. like gravity will shatter during an earthquake or tsunami or volcano eruption;
  3. like there is nowhere safe in the world—no safe home;
  4. like people will scold, chide, furrow brows—judge and banish;
  5. or else, like people will have already judged and banished, so I’ll pass by as a ghost;
  6. like responsibilities will collapse inward and inward, into a Big Crunch;
  7. like roads will fill with cars, and cars will fill with confusion, until emotions ripple off the asphalt as a heat wave, into the atmosphere, into pollution;
  8. like a sharp pain with twist behind one of my eyes, and I’ll have no escape from the light, sound, or emotions towel-wringing headaches into migraines;
  9. or else, like a migraine will descend as a boulder, like a rock-slide without so much as a yield sign at the sign of the road, like that migraine will crash right on through my brain stem and into the spinal cord, blurring vision and logic;
  10. like I’ll do the wrong thing;
  11. like I’ll say the wrong thing;
  12. like I’ve become the wrong person;
  13. or else, someone will see I’ve become the wrong person before I recognize it;
  14. like gunshot will fire;
  15. like a tire will blow;
  16. like I’ll run out of gas—literally, physically, mentally;
  17. or else I’ll have a burning need to escape and write, but I’ll be bound in a conversation that doesn’t make sense, a place where people say, Well, just about everyone is a little autistic, where I’ll be talked to as if I were a petulant child, then tossed into the middle of the street, Because she’s an adult;
  18. like I’ll dehydrate;
  19. like I’ll sunburn;
  20. like my eyes will burn;
  21. or else my eyes will be controlled by someone else (“look at me,” “you okay,” “look up,” look look look look look look—)
  22. like my car isn’t mine;
  23. like my fight-or-flight will trigger, and I won’t know why;
  24. like someone will ask me, “What’s wrong,” and I won’t know how to reply;
  25. or else no one will ask me anything, because it’s easier to set me aside, where no reply is needed to determine my wrongdoing;
  26. like I am not my body, and if I feel too much of my body at once, it’ll remind me how disconnected I’ve become to survive these past three decades;
  27. like that reminder will drive me mad;
  28. like leaving this house means I’ve automatically given the world permission to violate my boundaries;
  29. or else I’ll step over someone’s boundary during a meltdown or shutdown, as I try to fight-or-flight my way to safety, alarms sounding in my mind, moaning to drown out the noise—and everyone will look at me and/or treat me like I’m a monster, until I make it back to the safety of my house;
  30. like I’m better off in the safety of my half of the house;
  31. like I will do anything to avoid another meltdown or shutdown that ends like a crater after a comet, like I will wake, the rest of my life, in a crater from a comet;
  32. like I’ve been abandoned, yet there are still so many people left on Earth;
  33. or else like the people are physically there, but I cannot communicate with them;
  34. like I’m disabled, and the world expects me to be high-function, so I’ve found it best to just avoid the world;
  35. like I’m differabled, and the world expects me to be neurotypical, so I’ve found it best to create an autistic world inside my house, where ableism doesn’t destroy my self-esteem;
  36. like when a neurotypical person says, Welcome to the real world, then they transform into a clown, and the world, a circus tent;
  37. like I’m already feeling panic about the next anxiety attack;
  38. like I feel panic that I’m not allowed to wear on my face, or someone will say, “Why are you making that face?”
  39. like panic about the sleep I’ll need after the next anxiety attack, and how many hours of grading I’ll lose because of that sleep;
  40. like my bowels will scream, “diarrhea!” yet the teacher-only restroom, or the public restroom in the restaurant, or the public restroom at the gas stop on the way to the 45-minute-away school with the teacher-only restroom, will be in use with someone else already waiting;
  41. like I’ll have to defecate at the side of the freeway again;
  42. like I’ll have to defecate in the snow at 5am, in the middle of a nowhere wintry tundra, while trying to drive away from my panic attacks;
  43. like I’ll have to defecate while I’m teaching kids that can’t be left alone;
  44. like it’s just safer to always be ten feet away from an unoccupied toilet;
  45. like any human being who doesn’t understand the severe anxiety that accompanies the infuriatingly painful experience of IBS is less likely  to understand any of the other nuisances of my autistic life;
  46. like misunderstandings lead to anger, and lately, fielding someone’s anger leaves me at risk of panic attacks, rolling and stimming on the floor;
  47. like if I just understand the whirlpool inside me a little more, maybe the world outside me won’t feel as bad;
  48. like the wind wakes jitterbugs under my skin;
  49. like there is no ocean, no lake, no pool of water where I can evacuate;
  50. like Fresno Unified is the Eye of Sauron, and I’m in Fresno;
  51. like the nurse at the hospital will tell me to stop rocking until I say, “I’m autistic;”
  52. like I’ll get flanked on both sides of the aisle at a grocery store, then I’ll have no means of escape;
  53. like I’ll find an empty $1 section at Target, then half the store will descend upon the $1 section to see if I’m getting the last of something good;
  54. like the squirrel in the backyard can even sense my weakness, a little animal, chittering at me to get away from the table until I wonder, Does he have rabies? and I hide inside;
  55. like I’ll say x, and the world will hear y;
  56. like I’ll write x, and the world will not read it;
  57. like I don’t belong to this world;
  58. like I can’t find the map I need to navigate this world;
  59. like I really do not want to try to park my car, ever again, in an overcrowded parking lot;
  60. like every moment of small talk at a cash register includes an underlying current of, Can she tell I’m sweating? Can he smell fear?
  61. like I’ve just recently been sweating rivers down my ass-crack, and my back’s been cold-sweating for the last two months, and I’ve no idea why, but the shower is next to the toilet that’s ten feet away, and that makes the sweating more tolerable;
  62. and also, I don’t like cockroaches;
  63. I don’t like too-loud music;
  64. I don’t like the smell of sweaty of people;
  65. I don’t like the smell of feet that permeates from public swimming pools, water parks, and trampoline centers at the end of the day;
  66. I don’t like the textures of half the foods;
  67. I don’t like when men dehumanize me;
  68. I don’t like when older people dehumanize me;
  69. I don’t like when older people try to dehumanize children;
  70. I don’t like when older people compare-contrast the past to the present, like it’s ever done any good to live in the past or the future;
  71. I don’t like when advertisements dehumanize me;
  72. I don’t like when people of color blame my lack of social skills on my whiteness, since racial division is an easy sell to avoid the ableism elephant in the room;
  73. I don’t like how white people treat people of color;
  74. I don’t like how I’m outside of everything;
  75. I don’t like my mouth sewn shut;
  76. I don’t like trying to return to the inside of things;
  77. I don’t like the masquerade;
  78. I don’t like the performance;
  79. I don’t like the manipulation;
  80. I don’t like the confrontation;
  81. I don’t like the perpetuation of suffering;
  82. I don’t like processing everything at once, instead of through a funnel, since my amygdala feels like a funnel, not like this firework show of sensory information the outside world dishes on paper plates;
  83. I don’t like when my ulcers start pumping, and I can’t grab my stomach, because that’s a sign of weakness;
  84. I don’t like when my headaches start aching, and I can’t rub my eyes, because that’s a sign of exhaustion;
  85. I don’t like when I’m offended by what someone said, and it shows on my face, because I don’t have the social finesse many neurotypicals do;
  86. I don’t like when I’m accompanying Chase to the art store, grocery store, or book store, and he runs into the umpteenth person he knows, then they talk like I’m not there;
  87. I don’t like how it’s socially inappropriate for me to wander off when I feel like a ghost;
  88. I don’t like how social rules metamorph into unfamiliar shapes when visiting unfamiliar places;
  89. I don’t like using my voice;
  90. I don’t like the inevitable questioning of my tone of voice;
  91. I don’t like the abrupt changes of temperature in grocery store aisles;
  92. I don’t like the blaring lights in parking lots;
  93. I don’t like the blaring headlights on man European cars;
  94. I don’t like when people use their brights in the distance, only turning them off as they approach my car, as if two one-inch suns are fine, so long as they aren’t aggravating my sensory sensitivity with two three-inch suns;
  95. I am terrified of being frisked at the airport;
  96. I am terrified of saying the wrong thing;
  97. I am terrified of doing the wrong thing;
  98. I am terrified of being forced to apologize;
  99. I am terrified of being publicly humiliated to entertain others;
  100. I am terrified of being privately humiliated to make a point;
  101. I am terrified of gifts that will be taken away;
  102. I am terrified of love that will be withheld;
  103. I am thrown off by the buzz of June bugs;
  104. I am worried about losing my wallet again;
  105. I am worried about losing my favorite pen again;
  106. I am worried about judgment from regulating my day with objects;
  107. I am worried about judgment from regulating my day with ritual;
  108. And I haven’t figured out how to maneuver around these things.

One reply to “108 Anxieties Left to Buoy

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