I have several friends who are in their early twenties. They used to be my students, and they absolutely love calling me by my first name. They all manage to slip my first name into every Facebook post we exchange. Usually several times. For me, the number one quality in a friend is a great sense of humor. Number two is money.
My young friends keep me somewhat aware of the world outside of motherhood and “The Walking Dead.” Not to be redundant.
One of my young friends has introduced me to a new internet craze called the “trigger warning.” In a nutshell, it’s a way to warn people with anxiety and/or PTSD that something in a post may trigger or set off those feelings and the person can choose not to read on.
For me, though, a trigger warning is in itself a trigger. “Warning, this story contains graphic details of child suffering and/or murder.” Well, GREAT. Now I have to read it. Now I am compelled. Whereas before, I might have passed over that particular headline, presently I am driven by forces beyond my control to read every word of this horrible story. Probably many times.
I’m fortunate I don’t suffer from anxiety the way some people do. Unfortunately, I don’t have the kind LeAnn Rimes described to Giuliana Rancid (typo, but it works for me) on her E! special “LeAnn Rimes, I am the victim here”(subtitle mine). I wish I could catch the kind of anxiety that makes you unable to absorb the fat in your ice cream. Not the kind that makes your eyes bug out, which Giuliana clearly has.
I have the intrusive thoughts kind of anxiety. I would describe it, but it’s too painful. I have no shortage of examples of the terrible thoughts that pop into my head in relation to my children’s health and safety. Suffice it to say, they’re awful. My antidepressant isn’t as effective as it was in the early months, and I’m under more stress now that I’m working.
Not today, though. After a full week of nursing first one and then the other child through a terrible flu, I myself have succumbed.
Sure, I’m troubled by the likelihood that my students will learn nothing today and the reality that I’m burning through my sub days for the whole year before first semester even ends. Shit happens. It’s high school English. It isn’t cancer surgery.
If trigger warnings leave the internet and become a thing, I would expect to see one before the commercial for “Les Miserables.” Trigger warning: you are about to hear a song sung by a woman who has to prostitute herself to feed and clothe her three year-old who is being physically and mentally abused by her caretakers. The song will get stuck in your head for days and bore into your soul as you imagine your own children being beaten and starved and you powerless to help them, your only choices being to sell your hair and your body. And now, for your consideration…
I dreamed a dream in days gone by/when smirks were wry/and fucks worth giving…
I want the quick fix. I want the pill that makes it all go away. The fact that I have to learn to tolerate the uncomfortable feelings of anxiety and fear doesn’t sit well with me. I am, like most people, accustomed to an instant solution. So much so, it’s more of an entitlement than an expectation. Like Taylor Greer in “The Bean Trees,” I have to live through the paralysis of awakening. We, none of us, can protect our children from the world. It is something every one of us will eventually fail to do. We give them the protective magic bubble of childhood to the best of our power.
And just like magic comes at a cost, so does Xanax.