November 25, 2012

Putting It Out There

My heart started beating harder.  My hands started sweating.  My feet were hot.  Perhaps it was the hot herbal tea?

I walked out of the kitchen, through the living room, and into our bedroom suite.

Even away from the guests, a few deep breaths and my chest was still pounding and I could feel my visual field continue to shrink.  Things were *not* *right*.

I had nothing I could identify as a reasonable explanation.  I walked into a kitchen full of guests and said, “E, I’m not okay.  I’m really sorry everyone, but I think I need to go to the hospital.”

It was scary.  But they were all nice and polite and quiet.  At no point in the day did any anyone say anything about about me being overly dramatic, which in hindsight, is pretty impressive.

In our bedroom, where I would select the shoes to go to the hospital, which seemed a very important step in the process to me and my shaking hands for some reason, E took my pulse.  He asked me to breathe.  He asked me if I was having any other symptoms besides a fast, hard pulse and general anxiety.  I wasn’t.  No pain.  No shortness of breath.  Nothing except anxiety.   

As soon as he held me, and I found comfort pushing my rib cage against his (e.g. more than I would have where my diaphragm and ribs were unconfined) it was clear.  I had began to calm.  This was a garden variety anxiety attack.  And E was making it better (as all soul mates do).  I did not need to go to the hospital, I just needed to breathe.

But why?

I had one of my childhood best friends, her husband, my cousin, her husband and his sister as guests.  There was nothing remotely stressful about the current circumstances.  We were having Sunday pre-lunch tea, for goodness sake.  Is there anything less stressful than a pre-lunch herbal tea?  And yet, my body just freaked out.  Which freaked me out. Which freaked me out more…

They left.  I calmed down.  Lunch of ramen was fine.  It was clear that I was (physically) fine.  And, yet, for the rest of the day, I was egregiously tense.
  Unfortunately, my AM run was before my cousin’s arrival, so I couldn’t use a run as a shake out (and with a marathon 7 days away, I couldn’t just go run willy-nilly and throw in a de-stress run for fun either).

It wasn’t ‘til almost before dinner when telling E for the 5th time that the scariest part was that I couldn’t predict the anxiety attack that something finally made sense.  I’d had anxiety attacks before, but I could always point to why.  Then I started to cry.  

During her very abbreviated visit, Cousin had mentioned the quanset hut on our ancestral family farm multiple times.  Apparently, some of her wedding gifts are being stored there. 

She, of course, had no idea that some of my Dad’s dying words to me were to make sure that her father didn’t “pull a fast one” and deprive the rest of my Dad's siblings of their rightful inheritance (namely, the family ranch).  Apparently, there were some uncomfortable conversations between the 1st generation siblings close to Papa's death (and, unfortunately, close to dad's death as well) that made my father very uncomfortable about his brother's intentions.  He loved his brother with all of his being.  But he didn't feel that things were right, and when it became clear he was really sick, he asked me to look out for his kids (my siblings) after he was gone.

No pressure.

Since then, my uncle and his wife have bought their own land and moved back to the ancestral hometown and have graciously hosted me and E on multiple occasions as guests.  Compared to most of my friends at my age, my interactions with my uncle and aunt are almost as frequent as the ones my friends have with their parents.  We adore them.  My cousin's dad and his family do the majority of the heavy lifting of taking care of my dad’s mom on a day-to-day basis (although my dad's younger sister does do her share as well).   

I think, in some ways, my Cousin’s innocent words forced me to recognize that Dad had asked me to fight a fight on behalf of his kids that may no longer make sense.  Or maybe I just know that Papa’s (my grandfather’s) number one concern was taking care of Gran. I know this truth to my core, as did my Dad.  And my Uncle has done an amazing job of making certain this is achieved and continues to be achieved.  Perhaps the correct trade-off for this son-duty should be that he is the rightful heir and his daughter gets to store her wedding presents at the farm.  My dad did not make strong efforts to care for his mother during his life, and now he’s gone.  I wish it wasn't so, but it is.  

Today, after a crying breakdown (which was very cathartic and released quite a bit of pent up stress) I admitted to E that it’s very likely my father would have a different perspective on the current state of his ancestral family stuff than the last one he shared with me when he was still here.

But he’s not here to share it. 

And, that, more than anything, is what hurts so much.

In happier news, I'm no longer shocked at the "unexpected" anxiety attack.  Many tears later, I think it was a long time coming and the ridiculously cathartic release makes sense.  I can only hope that my cousin and her husband and his sister don't hold it against me.  Either way, I feel much better.

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