When people argue; Panic

It’s incredible the flood of anxiety I feel when people begin to argue.

These two people do not shout. These two people do not throw things. These two people do not hurt animals. These two people do not give each other the silent treatment later or love each other any less tomorrow.

But they do get intense with their voices. One of them is forceful and the voice raises, not in volume but in pitch. The other gets forceful and uses “YOU” statements that I find very rude. “YOU” are not listening. “YOU” have switched what you are arguing.

These arguments always end peacefully and they love each other the same immediately after. For them, the effects are null. They argue. They debate. It’s part of what they do. Frankly, I would go so far as to say it is part of who they are as people.

But for me, the effects are longer lasting. I will be afraid of them for days. It was not directed at me; nobody is arguing or debating with me. I have already put in my noise-isolating headphones and escaped up the stairs. I have already blared music directly into my earbuds.

But the flooding of anxiety is so strong and so immediate. It’s an emergency for me, when two people argue. It is danger. It is red alert. It is unpredictable and unsafe.

They will not hurt me. The worst either of them could do to me, based on who they are and what I have seen, is to use an insulting tone of voice and say “YOU” don’t understand what I am trying to say. Or something like that. That’s the worst I’ve seen or heard from them.

But my body goes straight to fear. My body says, the monsters have surrounded me. I am prepared to run. I am prepared to hide. I am prepared to face the streets in the dark at night amongst strangers. I am prepared to kill to protect myself.

My intestines prepare to evacuate immediately. I need to run. Outdoors. I need to be one speck in an infinite darkness, alone. Unknown. Safer.

Instead, I am trying to prep for bed. I brushed my teeth. I’m listening to my music, blaring into my ears. I can hear the voices. They are calm but still firm. It’s only a difference of opinion and grilling over various scientific studies to prove one side or the other. My shoes and coat were already on (because me and one of them were about to go on a very short walk). I am ready; I want to run. I could take anxiety medicine that will help me sleep. It’s been 30 minutes, right? I could take off my shoes and coat without offending. … Or I could slip past and go on a jog into the darkness.

Poem: You

Take this hand and make it your own.

Take this voice and give it your story.

Freedom comes at a cost.

Take me in your arms.

The wind lets me down softly.

Feathers against my cheek.

Don’t turn your head to me.

From the side, I am here for you.

There is nothing that I wouldn’t do.

But be clear, you’re only here briefly.

I’m just passing through.

Take this heart and make it your love.

Take this hope and make it your own.

Find these shoes lining your bedroom floor.

Find these clothes are not what they seemed. They are yours.

Take my hand and guide me down your life.

Take this voice and sing your own song.

Take these eyes and fill them wih your world.

There is no soul here. I lay before you, an empty shell.

Rise up! And take this chance.

Rise up! And feel the moment is slipping.

Counting the shadows going round and round.

Take me down to the river bed and lay me in silt.

Threads of cool silk, I feel them against my skin.

Blood runs down from my eyes. See your reflection.

I’m staring up to the sky.

Take this breath and taste it. Feel it leave.

It’s rising up to the sky.