Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My Mind Hates Me

My mind sometimes works really hard without my knowledge. It sends signals that are ignorable for quite some time until I figure out what's going on. I think my mind is smarter than me. It should know by now to stop sending me puzzles. I suck at puzzles.

My job is like a jillion other jobs in content. In form, however, it is in a class by itself. I am a personal assistant to two people or really to two families. However, I was hired jointly by the heads of those families. Now it's sounding like I work for a mafia conglomerate. I assure you that if I was I wouldn't be writing about it on the internet, not even in these vague terms. So, while I go to the same office each day and I use one computer, one phone, one desk and am evaluated for salary increases and benefits in one joint decision, I receive two paychecks from two completely different people. And two holiday gifts, they're very nice like that.

One of the heads of household for whom I work died this weekend. There are details but they don't belong here, I am just pointing this out because it's relevant to how my brain is trying to render me useless. While this was a surprise he did have a brief illness so it has been a subject my brain has had access to for a couple of months now.

I've written before, I'm sure (but am too lazy to look up and link), about how stress often manifests itself with surges in my snake phobia and my fear of the dark. I did get those but, hey, it's almost the holidays so they're kind of par for the course. I threw up a few coping mechanisms and kept moving forward as one does. The last time I had my hair cut my stylist suggested that I use a flat iron to achieve the style she'd cut. Later I got a big fat curling iron which also works wonders. I haven't used appliances like that since the 90s so I'm really out of practice. I found myself having trouble leaving the house. I couldn't remember if I'd turned off and unplugged my hair doohickeys. Numerous times I would get to the street and have to run back in to check because, though I was pretty sure I'd done things correctly, the anxiety was too much. Once I even paid the dog walker to go to my house on a day when she wasn't walking the dog to check. It was worth $10 just to know someone would call me if my living room was in flames. It wasn't. I have never once, yet, left the things plugged in. Since the turning off and unplugging are a habit I've put in muscle memory I often do them without realizing I'm doing it so I've had to find ways of bringing my attention to the process so I can soothe myself as I'm on the subway conjuring images of a cat knocking a super hot curling iron into the couch, the couch smoldering, the dog suffocating and me arriving home to a smoking hole where my apartment used to be. I've been holding it at bay and working on it so I felt like it was progress.

A couple of days ago, while I was getting ready to leave the house, I put the crockpot dish into the sink and turned the water on to fill it so it could soak. I left the kitchen to do something else. Eventually I headed out to work and I could not remember if I'd turned off the water when I went back into the kitchen. I must have. But did I? Well, there's a drain in the sink so, aside from the horrifying wastefulness it won't do any damage. Will it? Is the body of the crockpot dish covering the drain? Is my apartment flooding? I cooked chicken in that crockpot! Is my apartment flooding with salmonella?!?!?! I tried to remember if I could hear the sound of running water when I left the house but I couldn't. I didn't go back, though, I couldn't. I convinced myself that, if the drain had been blocked it would have been apparent before I left. I had turned the water off. Everything was fine. Of course, just writing about this I'm wondering if I turned off the oven when I cooked last night. I know I did. I can see myself checking it both last night and this morning.

Finally the night after the flood worry day I realized what my brain was doing. What all these anxieties have in common are the loss of my home. I don't yet know if the rest of the family of my boss will keep me on. It's not something I'm planning to bring up since we're still working on his memorial service. Next week I'll ask. Apparently, though, I've been thinking about it for a long time. I've been wondering what if I lose half my income? Will I be able to pay my bills? What can I cut out of my expenses? How will I pay for all the things I've promised to do or buy already? How will I handle the loss of the property tax rebate? The rise in cost of my maintenance and everything else? Where can I generate extra income? Since, given the delicate emotional nature of the past couple months, I wasn't comfortable asking about anyone's intentions toward my employment I had consciously told myself that sometimes we simply have to live with uncertainty. It's hard and it's definitely not my favorite way to do things but it's a necessity. Unconsciously, though, I couldn't let it go. So I've been worrying about all the most unlikely ways I could lose my home instead of the most likely one.

A dangerous mind, indeed.


  1. Ooof. How well I understand THIS!

    I don't stress about leaving shit on (and you WOULD have noticed the water running; I know it). No, I go off on the worst-case scenario bullshit when there's no cause to do such things. Mr. Chili's in NM. Know what they have in NM? Scorpions. Oh, and rattlesnakes. I could do it all day, and I'm starting to wear myself out...

  2. Wow, I like the way you step through this and come to a moment of realization. At the same time, everything you talk about is so universal, we all can empathize, whether its about curling irons or water running. My personal anxiety used to be about the toilet whose handle needed jiggling to stop running....

    And work issues....I have been trying to think about how to bring up work issues in a blog. I try to keep it very separate, but there are things bubbling under the surface that surely affect me.

  3. Anonymous11:29 AM

    These are scary times and living in limbo about my job would make me insane. I'm totally impressed that you made that connection! Here's hoping everything works ok ::fingers crossed::

  4. Jeez. No wonder! I hope they keep you on.

  5. Not you too.
    Really, I will take the hits the universe has to throw as long as you are safe.
    Kizz, I am sorry chick.

  6. Well I'm glad you don't overthink it. Snort.

    Just kidding. Hugs and kisses to you and your anxiety.

  7. Is it wrong to tell you I'm so happy that you do this? Because if you do it....then ME doing it doesn't seem so bad.

    I've driven 20 min. out of my way to check the iron. That was unplugged. And I knew it was, but jsut wasn't SURE.

    I'm sorry you're in turmoil. Keep breathing and let me know if I can do anything. I MEAN IT. :-)

  8. Anonymous4:49 PM

    Very cool and wonderfully self aware and I have NO idea what you're talking about. Nuh uh. NEVER have I driven back from a lunch date to turn off the gas I couldn't recall if I'd turned off (I had), or gotten out of bed to check that the girls hadn't left a glue gun plugged in, or... The mind works in fascinating ways, and your anxiety was a smack upside the head that you weren't addressing something very important and I hope, entirely moot. :-)

  9. Anonymous11:59 PM

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!!!!

  10. wow.

    that is so incredible, how the mind works. I'm sure that most people would have a similar reaction. You've been shaken at the roots. You feel unsettled.

    It's good, though, that you made the connection about what it's all about. Hopefully that will ease the anxiety.

    I'm so sorry. I hope you're okay.