02 October 2012

Waiting for earthquakes


I wonder if the reason I am terrible at the day to day but good with crisis is because in my brain I’m constantly preparing for a crisis. Most days the scenarios running through my head are enough to give any sane person nightmares. I have to constantly practice the art of NOT thinking about certain things. If my brain is left to wander on it’s own, well, it’s just bad news for everyone involved.

This condition was especially acute for the first 3 months of my son’s life. For the first three months mostly all I did was breastfeed and sit and watch him squirm around. All day long. This allows for a lot of time to think and ruminate. Combine that “free” time with the wicked pregnancy hormones that rage right on through breast feeding and even beyond sometimes, throw in a whole lot of first-time-parent-irrational-fear (fear of things like accidentally flushing your kid down the toilet or fear of forgetting where you might put your kid only to find them in the cupboard) and a dash of post-partum depression and you have a very dangerous rumination cocktail.

I just got a new car. For normal people this is a very happy fun experience. For me it is a terrifying stressful situation which invites a whole lot of disaster-scenario daydreaming, mainly having to do with car crashes. And what’s even more ridiculous is the disaster scenarios started playing through my brain about a month ago – around the time I knew I would most likely need to get a new car. I didn’t even have the new car yet, for all I knew it was months out before I would have it. Ridiculous I know.

Can I tell you something? Sometimes when I am sitting still, thinking or daydreaming, I mistake my heartbeat for a far off earthquake. This brings me sharply into my body, my skin lights up and my pores open and tingle as I try to experience every subtle shift of the earth as if it were sonar bouncing off my body. Once about 2 years ago I experienced a very gentle earthquake (a real one) that was so subtle you really did have to be standing quite still to feel it. I was sitting with my legs crossed, my elbow on my knee and my head in my hand watching my kid run around in the back yard. I started to sway back and forth and I felt the ground ripple very slightly under me. It was what they call a “roller” not a shaker. It was lovely and magical and very exciting once I realized what was happening.

So now I often take the opportunity to sit still and “listen” for quakes. When you sit very still you notice that your heartbeat can create small rhythmic whole body movement and it is this movement that I sometimes mistake for an earthquake. This happens to me a lot when I’m zoning out but sometimes I sit and purposefully listen for earthquakes.

Sometimes I feel like I’m much better equipped to handle the earthquake than I am the constant push of every boundary and button by my 3 year old child. Sometimes I sit and wait for the earthquake, hoping to just be in a position where I am calm and confident and I know what to do. Not like parenting which often generates the opposite feelings. I just want to know what is going on. I just want to know how to respond…and do it WELL. I really hate sucking at things. Today I’m sitting still, waiting for an earthquake. I’m not afraid. I’m just sorting out what is a heartbeat and what is not.

Last Saturday I went to go to the bathroom and saw the water in the toilet bowl sloshing. When was the last time you saw the toilet water sloshing with no flushing involved? It doesn’t do that unless the floor has been moving. I tried to recreate it by stomping near the toilet: no sloshing. There was earthquake and I had missed it. But I did have that surge of excitement and my skin came alive and got all tingly and I froze just to see if I could catch the last little bit of movement.

Is it weird that I get that excited about earthquakes? Usually it’s just my heartbeat though…not an impending disaster scenario which I am constantly preparing for. Ridiculous I know. I know.

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