I was wide awake at 4 a.m. this morning anxious about my anxiety. The Klonopin just wasn’t cutting it last night.
I started thinking about my anxiety and how it all started for me as child: Fear of being abducted, never to return home again. (I often daydreamed as a child about being adopted, and that my kind, loving birth mother would come and take me away one day. Yeah, I know I’m fucked up. And that’s a different kind of abduction than the one I’m about to talk about.)
Anyway, I digress. It was 1981, and Adam Walsh had been abducted and killed in south Florida (not too far from where I lived at the time). His decapitated head was found floating down a river or canal or something. I was 8. I was terrified. Even in my young (crazy) mind, I wondered — with bile frothing in my throat — whether the kidnapper had cut off his head before or after his was dead.
And so started the first shades of anxiety in my life. I did not want to walk to school alone, fearful that I would end up chopped to bits and distributed into individual Ziploc baggies. Yet my mother insisted I walk, deeming the car riders “lazy.” It was not a long journey in retrospect: when I go home to visit, I chuckle at how close my old elementary school is to my house. A third of mile, perhaps? But in the mind of a kidnapper-phobic 8-year-old, it was a 25-mile hike through dark alleys filled with leering men.
Prior to leaving for school each morning, my mother insisted on a good, hearty breakfast. “You can’t have a good day without a good breakfast” was her motto, force-feeding me eggs and cream of wheat, which would end up in piles of barf on the floor. That’s how upsetting my walks to school were: I literally made myself sick in anticipation.
Disturbed by my daily breakfast regurgitation, she took me to several doctors to determine the physical cause.