Death, Life, and Anxiety

Something something something, clearing my throat (maybe I’ll rewrite this).


A couple years ago I wrote this, and since then I’ve more or less been a hermit. It’s been a terrible few years. Two days after I wrote that, my dad died, which was mostly a relief, but still horrible. This is part of what I read at his funeral:

My context for Dad is very different and very complicated. He was complicated. He carried a lot of pain. The thing about all these different contexts, these different versions, of Dad is that they’re all real; each one every bit as true as the next. And that’s because Dad, like everyone else, was multifaceted. Like a diamond. Definitely not a polished diamond, perfectly cut and ready for inspection. Dad was more like a raw diamond. Uncut. Scuffed. Maybe more industrial quality than gemstone, but a diamond, nonetheless. Multifaceted. Each side of him casting a different light. And in his diamond-ness, raw and scuffed though he was, every bit as precious as a gemstone. Every bit as rare. Singular. Priceless. Irreplaceable. I miss my dad.

About a week after my dad died, my mom was diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer. It’s at stage four now, and she’s on hospice. Taking care of her hasn’t been as hard as what she’s been going through, but it’s been hard. Losing my mom is horrible. There’s more to say about that, but it doesn’t need to be said now.

Last August, my little brother, Greg, died. He had leukemia. He had a bone marrow transplant in January of 23, and it worked. He was rid of the leukemia. Then he got something called Graft vs. Host disease, which I still haven’t googled (because fuck it honestly), and that’s what took him out. That was a fucking nightmare.

A month later we had to put down our heeler, Sydney, and two weeks later we had to put down our beagle, Cooper. That was also a nightmare. I miss both of them so much.

All of the above is in addition to the death of Annette’s dad (Christmas Day, 21), all the people we lost to Covid, and the suicide of my baby brother, Eric, in 2016. Honestly, it’s too fucking much.


I’m a mess. I’ve got the medication going for me, but without it I’d be useless. With it, I’m barely functional. A few months ago I became familiar with the term “functional freeze.” This is from that link:

The freeze response is when we shut down in preparation to deal with the ‘attack’. A person in freeze state can lose the ability to communicate or act. They may physically change temperature, get heaviness in the body and feel stuck. It is essentially a form of ‘play dead’ response that happens without choice.

Functional freeze is when you are able to outwardly function and complete daily tasks such as going to work, seeing friends and preparing meals, but psychologically you are still stuck in this freeze mode. It is often described as being ‘tired and wired’, feeling heightened anxiety levels and a lack of desire to do things at the same time.

I don’t know if this is what I have or not, but it’d go a long way toward explaining getting in my car after teaching and staring at the steering wheel for twenty minutes. Or coming home with every intention of being productive and spending three hours void scrolling through Instagram reels.

This last year has been one of the hardest years of my life. I’ve taken care of my job and other obligations, but I’ve been a mess. If I had to give myself a grade as a teacher, it’d be a C-. There are people I love who I haven’t spent time with in forever. A year ago I found a stack of copies of my book, Wild Embrace, that I’d been meaning to send to the lovely people who blurbed it for me. I’d been meaning to send it to them for a year. They’re still sitting in my office, unsent.

Juan, Cati, Stephanie, Donna, John: I love you all to death, thank you for blurbing my book.


So Annette and I are at the TRS Coral in Cancun for our 20th anniversary. We got here yesterday, and it’s been great. We got in yesterday in the late afternoon, had a great meal, slept twelve hours, had a great breakfast, went to the pool for a few hours, and then walked back to the room. Barefoot. Like an asshole. And now I have burns and blisters on my feet. The left foot isn’t bad but the right foot has the biggest blister I’ve ever seen. It looks like a piece of prosciutto is hanging off the ball of my foot (you’re welcome).

Annette’s next to me talking to the insurance company right now. She bought trip insurance because she’s a genius. We had a lifeguard dress the wound, and we had a doctor come look at it. He was like, “Yeah, you need to get that taken care of at the hospital.” And he didn’t vomit at the sight of my foot, he was very professional.

So we’re gonna have to get an ambulance and go to the hospital. I’m gonna have to be put on a chair or a gurney, and be wheeled from my room to the ambulance. Because I like to go barefoot. I feel like such an asshole.

Best case scenario: I get this dressed and taken care of, and we spend the rest of the week here, but I don’t get to drink in the pool for the rest of the trip.

Worst case scenario: I get this dressed and taken care of, and the doctor says I need to go home as soon as possible, and our trip is over.

And that’s our 20th anniversary trip.

I am beating myself up so bad right now. Every terrible thing my dad ever said to me, every time he called me an idiot, being amplified through my own voice. I feel like I’ve ruined our anniversary, like I’ve wasted a shit ton of money, I’ve done the, “I’m cursed, why me?” thing, I’m catastrophizing…

All of it’s bullshit. I know this. It’s hard to feel that though. There’s a lot of shame. I’m writing all this because writing is the only thing that distracts. It’s the only thing that ever works when I’m like this.

I have no tidy conclusion for any of this, it’s stream of consciousness. To be continued.