This past week I attended two conferences out of town. It was a whirlwind week, and I felt like I couldn’t quite catch my breath. I planned to get a lot of other work done in my hotel room and in between sessions, but it didn’t happen. I know my time spent networking was important, but now I feel behind on projects. This always leaves me feeling extra stressed.
A few things came up for me this week, and as I reflected on them I realized the common thread was anxiety. I thought it was worth sharing a little bit of these feelings in my weekly post, as I am sure so many of us have experienced heightened anxiety since the death of our person.
One of the ways it showed up for me was leaving my cat, whom I shared with my boyfriend Boris. I am pretty sure I have posted about her a few times before, but long story short, I found her when Boris and I were seniors in highschool and I gave her to Boris as Valentine’s Day gift, one that he reluctantly accepted (and named her Kitty Cat…to my disappointment). She ended up being the best part of his life and he adored her for many years. As she is doing right now while I am writing this post, she spent a lot of time curled up on his desk as he worked or played video games. Sometimes I wonder how the death of an owner impacts pets, and I often think about this when it comes to Kitty Cat. Did she wonder where he went and why he never came home? Was she afraid or did she feel abandoned? So, whenever I leave for more than a couple of days I worry that Kitty Cat thinks she has been abandoned. I worry that she thinks her person has once again left her and is never coming home. On top of this, I worry something will happen to her. I worry that she will become sick very quickly and I won’t be able to make it home to her fast enough. I felt a little silly being so worried about a cat, who had my sister caring for her while I was gone. But, the anxiety over this is real for me. I fear losing her, and I fear that she will feel abandoned. It really sucks.
The other way anxiety showed up for me this week was in new interactions and relationships with people who do not know about Boris. This has already happened for me many times before this week, but it still hangs around in my brain. What if someone asks me about my marital status or personal life? How much do I share? What if something is really triggering for me and I have to step away and no one understands why? I feel that I have more social anxiety since Boris died, and this is just one of the ways my mind races when I am in new social settings.
I hope that being home and returning to somewhat normal routines allows me to have respite from some of that anxiety in the next days and weeks. I imagine that anxiety related to my grief will always creep up on me, and show up in new ways as time goes on.