Surviving Amor Fou, #1: Panic Attacks

a·mour fou/ˌämo͝or ˈfo͞o/noun

  1. uncontrollable or obsessive passion.

I was first introduced to this concept when watching The Sopranos with Kevin. Tony Soprano fell in love with one of Dr. Melfi’s other patients and had quite a tumultuous time of it.

I kind of had a feeling at the time I watched those episodes that my marriage was like that on a different level (we never threw food at each other). No matter how angry I was with Kevin, I couldn’t live without him. He felt the same way. Almost six years into widowhood, I know for certain it was Amour Fou.

When we were alike, we were perfectly in sync. Butter and garlic. When we were dissimilar, we were oil and vinegar. We didn’t want to be around each other or we didn’t want to leave each other’s sight. With some variations on the scale sprinkled in for good measure. 18 years of that was quite a ride.

As I’ve stated many times, sense memory sucks. The other day, I heard a song I hadn’t heard in a long time. It was one of the songs Kevin used to taunt me with if he was angry at me (or angry in general and I was the only other human around). I went right back to being in front of his room, knocking and begging to be let in while the song blasted. All those dark days mixed into one and back came that empty feeling I used to get when he would get mad at me. It’s like I’d lost a part of me and the person who had the missing part wouldn’t give it back.

I turned off the song because I was panicking and it was emotionally painful. I’ve felt grief a lot when listening to music. I wipe away the tears and go on with my day. But this feeling stuck to me and suddenly the prospect of finishing my work day seemed impossible. So, I asked for the rest of the day off because I wasn’t feeling well, and I was granted it.

I talked a bit to those I discuss these things with, and pretty much stared at the TV for the rest of the day, trying to lose myself in familiar worlds. I did my best to cope. Only lamented the lack of access to benzos a tiny bit. (They have their purposes, but highly addictive, therefore difficult to obtain. Thankfully I had something that works just as well.)

That damned panic attack poked at many feelings and memories that I do my best to forget. In my mind’s eye, I had a montage of the worst of it. I couldn’t get it to stop. I hate every single one of those fights. I know a lot of them were the result of recurring bouts of failing to find fulfillment in the life I was told I wanted–combo housewife and office manager.

I can’t change any of it, therefore I don’t like to think about it. Who the hell wants to dwell on all that? Certainly not I. Yet it happens because it’s only been about three years since I began to understand the dynamics of that relationship. 20/20 hindsight, indeed. But I don’t know what knowing then what I know now would have helped all that much. Maybe avoided some arguments? But with Amour Fou, wouldn’t we have just found something else to argue about?

So, when you find yourself in a relationship that is one of those “Can’t live with you, can’t live without you” type things, be careful. As much as you think you can’t leave, you can. Then again, I’ll bet you know that but can’t bring yourself to leave. Believe me, I get it. It’s the nature of the beast, really. Just try to be honest with yourself in the “amour phase” and know that the shit’s gonna hit the fan again.

Also know that love doesn’t mean having to endure that kind of dynamic. It’s totally possible to love someone without having shouting matches on a regular basis.

Sunday Driving and Freewriting

I’m trying to get in the habit of taking a long drive on the weekends. I’ve done it a couple times. The first time I had clutch issues (slave cylinder), and that put the habit on hold for awhile. Now I’m determined not to let the car sit for too long without being driven.

Around where I live, there’s a series of hills that only have a few roads that go over it. Some of them are easy to travel, and others are the older roads that were first made when a bunch of rich people bought up the land and built things like mansions and golf courses. Those roads are “the twisties” that are full of narrow, winding roads.

I was never much for convertibles, but my Sweetie bought me a 23 year old Miata last year. I needed a commuter car, and I knew how to drive stick. It’s acted up on me a couple ways, but has kept me out of danger when it refuses to budge. Though it wasn’t fun to have to replace the ignition key.

But I digress. One of the joys of having a convertible is being able to put the top down and drive the twisties. I have a sun hat, which helps keep the sunburn down. I also wear a t-shirt with sleeves, as tan lines are preferable to sunburn.

Today, I tried a couple twisties I hadn’t done before. One I’d driven a tiny bit of, but not the whole thing. It was a nice drive, but I didn’t expect so may pedestrians and bicycles out. Everyone was wearing masks, and I almost felt bad that I wasn’t. (I probably should when I have the top down, I guess. If I use a drive through, I do put one on.)

I also made myself a playlist for the drive. That way I could put my phone on do not disturb and put it in my bag. Keeps it out of the sun and removes the temptation to check messages. It was nice not to have to think about anything but the music and the road.

Going the speed limit is easier uphill. Downhill, I’m in neutral and use the brakes. I try not to ride the brakes, but if there’s someone in front of me with a car that isn’t made to drive this kind of road, I have to. Social distancing is very much a thing when going downhill. Gotta have room to react for slower drivers and oncoming traffic.

I guess it’s like meditation for me. I’m not good at the traditional notion of meditation. It’s hard for me to quiet my thoughts. (I have to listen to audiobooks in order to fall asleep. I mean, I can fall asleep on my own, but it takes quite a long time to do so.) Blasting the songs that I love while traversing twists and turns in a car with damn near 50/50 balance is a wonderful thing for me. It’s quite literally the opposite of being home most of the time. (I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to work from home and my company is doing well.)

I got a Chromebook the other day. I needed something bigger than my phone with a keyboard, so I went for a refurb of last year’s model that was mainly designed for schoolwork. One of these days I’ll spring for a fancier model with a backlit keyboard and a touchscreen, but for now I’m really happy. In fact, right now I’m sitting in my backyard typing, with my work-issued gaming headset on, blasting music.

I’m working on another blog, but it’s different. It’s all fiction, so I need to get all the backstory down before I decide to publish it. As much as I’ve always wanted to write a novel, it’s just too daunting of a task to do when I work full time and battle depression. I used to do a comic, but that was time consuming. Besides, writing is my art.

Another New Normal

I remember years ago, the “New Normal” for me was being grateful for the gift of a wheelchair so Kevin could go out without having to walk around.

These days, it means spending a lot of time in my room. I’m fortunate to have been working from home for the past 8 weeks. I love my company, because they’ve been on top of the pandemic situation and slowly rolled out the necessary precautions since late January. This is the kind of steady job that I’ve always wanted, but was convinced for years that it was a bad thing to want. Funny how that goes sometimes.

I’ve been writing fiction again! My problem has always been completing a story. I get too many ideas about key scenes and don’t go back to fill in the gaps. So, I’m taking a different approach to it. I’ll let people check it out once I have my content organized.

Stumbled upon the SiriusXM channel 1st Wave about a week ago, courtesy of the TV service that gets beamed to the house. My inner teenager is digging hearing songs that I haven’t heard in like, over a quarter century! I’ve been using my Google Play account to build a playlist out of the songs I don’t want to forget. Even some of the DJ’s are the ones I listened to back then! My “Spring 20” Playlist also has a bunch of different stuff I discovered when making my own custom “radio stations” on Google Play based off of a single song and noting what I enjoy. Jazz fusion, New Wave, and Motown, mostly. It all mixes together fine in my mind. Branching out a bit in music is good. I’ve discovered and re-discovered a lot of good songs.

Much like when I grew up here but for much different reasons, I can’t go anywhere. I do take an occasional drive, especially now that the weather’s nice enough to drive around with the top down! I don’t want to offer my thoughts on the current situation. Well, I do want to go on record saying that while it is a drag to have to stay home all the time, and masks are a little awkward, it’s a lot better than being told what to do with my uterus. Plus, technology nowadays has made it much easier to get things delivered and to stay in touch. And yeah, with my “pre-existing conditions”, it can get very depressing to be away with my loved ones, but we’re all still alive and want to stay that way! I don’t want to focus on all the stuff I can’t do. I have it better than scores of my fellow Americans. I can’t take that for granted.

I also enjoy being able to get up a half hour before work, because it means I have more time after work to relax and enjoy myself. Then again, I’ve never really been a morning person. If I didn’t have to stick to a normal work schedule, I’d so be a night owl. I miss those days.

So does this count as having written about the current Pandemic for future generations? 😉