My new fear
Carlos, Lucky and I got to San Diego yesterday October 3rd. We took Lucky to a dog beach where he got in cahoots with a pit bull named Princess. He then drank tons of salt water and spent the next bit of time projectile vomiting. So that beach, while in theory was a fantastic idea, turned into kind of a bust. We let the poor exhausted pup at the hotel while Carlos and I headed to dinner at one of the best beach bars I’ve ever come across. The Wonderland Pub is on a high second story with a panoramic, half circle bar and eating area overlooking the Ocean Beach Pier. They had a live band playing beachy, Jack Johnson-esque music, great crowd and vibe, incredible menu (I had the trio of ahi poke, mahi mahi ceviche and shrimp cocktail) and the bar tender announces a toast at sunset. It was a romantic, peaceful, perfect Southern California evening.
Today Carlos and I went sea kayaking in La Jolla. My GoPro batteries died, so I have no pictures of it, but it was gorgeous. We did a tour of the sea caves and were able to paddle into them and explore. Sea lions were everywhere barking and swimming around our kayaks and the sea cliffs and caves were breath taking. We met up for a late lunch with a dear, old friend of mine at another great pub and then Carlos, Lucky and I headed to nearby Balboa park to explore. If we hadn’t had a dog, there were several exhibits I would have loved to check out, but for this trip, we enjoyed the architecture, sculptures, beautiful weather and exercise. Lucky has caught kennel cough (diagnosed with a video sent to a veterinarian relative…thanks technology!) since we started this trip so he watched enviously from the side lines of a great dog park. San Diego…you are incredible.
We have opted to stay in San Diego another couple nights to be by the ocean a bit longer before heading to Las Vegas to visit friends we have there. There is something about the sea. The noise, the smells, the sounds, the magnitude, the size…it is chaos and yet it is calming. Tomorrow our plan is to head to some beaches we got a tip from our friend about and just exist there. It never fails to open up my mind and my heart.
Since Sylvia died and especially on this trip I have realized I have a lot of anxiety now. Crowds particularly, and lots of noise, make me feel panicked, my breath quickens, I tense up, I get that choking, claustrophobic feeling in the back of my throat and I cling to Carlos. He is my safe place. I haven’t been apart from him much at all since Sylvia died and am terrified, in particular, for when I go back to work and have to be away from him for an entire night. I went to a spa with friends in Los Angeles for nearly an entire day. The hours leading up to it worked me into a near full blown panic attack starting with not being with Carlos and quickly transitioning into all the details of my life without my daughter. I was terrified and I almost let it overcome me. I sobbed with my friends who held me close, cried with me and lifted me up. Thank god for these kinds of people. They know there is nothing that can be said or done but to hold on tight and cry. It’s powerful beyond words. They are my safe place.
Sylvia’s death ripped all my sense of safety away. I thought I knew what was coming or at least knew what to expect, I anticipated the future, I imagined, fantasized and couldn’t wait for thousands of events that I thought would happen. None of those will happen, ever, with her. I think a huge part of safety is knowing what to expect, and I feel like I no longer can. My sense of safety has been replaced with anxiety and fear. I imagine, and hope, this will lessen over time and I will find ways to feel secure and less fearful with every day activities but I know it will be a long, weird road to that point. Through support groups and connecting with other people who have lost a child I can at least partially imagine my future as a parent to our subsequent children. Their stories have confirmed what I anticipated happening in that my current anxiety and fears will likely be transferred to them. I will be terrified for them and their safety. How do you parent when you don’t know your own sense of safety?
Carlos and I have a lot of hard, emotional, good conversations about every aspect of our past, present and future. Tomorrow at the beach maybe we will have another or maybe we will sit in silence taking in everything the ocean is and isn’t. We need to have both a balance of the silence and the noise in our lives with each other. The noise outside of what I can control right now is scary for me, and maybe it will be for a while, and thats okay. Carlos is my safe place. My family is my safe place and my friends are my safe place. That is what I have, it is what I need and it is all I need.