Panic

March 21st, 2019

Karin and I were just about ready to go to church yesterday. We try to go to daily Mass at St. Rita. Usually, we also participate in the morning prayer prior to the liturgy. This is our spiritual practice. Karin is much more consistent and diligent with it. I’m kind of a slacker.

As we were leaving, Karin got a phone call. It was the boyfriend of a girl that we love. I’m not exactly sure if the young man qualifies as a “boyfriend”. His status with the young woman seems to fluctuate. Their relationship is rather fluid. At a minimum, the guy is a good friend to her, a person who really does care about this girl.

The young man was in an utter panic when he called Karin. Karin put him on speaker phone so that I could hear what he had to say. He spoke quickly and emphatically.

He asked my wife, “When was the last time you had contact with her?”

Karin told him that it was during the previous morning. The girl had seemed to be upbeat and in good spirits.

The young man said, “I talked to her right after you did. She was going to take a shower, and then I was going to pick her up after work. We were going to go to dinner, and then hang out.”

He went on, “I got to her motel, and I called her. I didn’t get an answer. Then I texted her, and I didn’t get an answer with that. I knocked on her door. She didn’t answer. Finally, I went to to the manager to see if they would check on her, and they refused to do it. The management told me to call the police. I didn’t want to do that. I stayed there for forty-five minutes, and then I left.”

He continued, “I have been trying to get hold of her again this morning, but I get nothing. I’m at work now. Could you please try to contact her?”

Karin told him that we would.

I had a terrible, sinking feeling. I thought to myself, “She finally did it. We’re going to make a trip to the morgue.”

Karin asked me, “What should we do? Go there? Call the police? Should we call her?”

I replied softly, “Call her.”

Karin did that. No answer. The message went straight to voicemail.

Karin said, “I’ll text her. She never answers calls. She might respond to a text.”

The girl did respond. She told us that she was feeling a little sick. Otherwise, she was fine.

Karin told her to contact her friend, seeing as he was freaking out.

With most people, it’s not a big deal if we can’t reach them. That just happens. With this young woman it’s different. We have over a decade of experience with her health problems and intense drama. When we have been unable to contact her for any extended length of time, it has meant that something really bad was happening.

Karin and I went to church. We were grateful that it was a false alarm, but it was an alarm nonetheless. I don’t recover from these emergencies (real or otherwise) very well any more. I get an emotional hangover. It’s like tearing open a wound that has never quite healed. The most recent incident dovetailed into earlier crises, and I felt all of it again.

Karin and I sat down with some other people in the narthex for the morning prayer. I had to get up after a minute or so, and go into the sanctuary of the church. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t pray. I sat in a pew by myself, and tried to subdue feelings of fear, anger, and sadness. I didn’t how to direct those emotions. They were just there, and they were intense.

A young man named Mike came over to talk with me. Mike is a novice at the church. He is in training to become an Augustinian priest. He is a wonderful person, and he thought that it would be a good idea to wish me a happy birthday. It was my birthday, but I wasn’t feeling it. Not at all.

Mike said, “Hey, Karin tells me that today is your birthday.”

I shrugged.

He looked at me more closely, and asked, “Are you okay?”

“No.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

I shook my head and looked away from him.

At that point, Mike sensed the Sith energy that was emanating from me. He figured out that I was emotionally radioactive, and he moved away.

Karin came into the pew just before the liturgy started. She gently took my hand.

I wept. As soon as she touched me, the dam broke. It wasn’t a noisy, sobbing kind of thing. It was all silent. I just felt hot, salty tears roll down my cheeks, and I could do nothing to stop them.

After Mass, we went out for breakfast. I still couldn’t focus or listen. We had a decent meal, but I wasn’t really there. To a certain extent, Karin was eating alone.

In Zen we talk about being in the moment. We talk about how the past doesn’t really matter, because it doesn’t exist any more. It does matter. Trauma from the past comes back to join up with any new trauma. I tried to be in the here and now, and failed. It was just too hard.

Are things better? I took the girl to see her probation officer this morning, and it went okay. My anxiety was still there. It will take a while for me to lower my guard with her. Maybe I never will. Maybe I will always be scared with her.

I don’t know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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