Anxiety out of … nothing


My child is sick… it’s just a common, every day illness – sore throat, fever. It’s causing crankiness, irritability, exhaustion and whining.

My anxiety rises.

They are supposed to go to their father’s for an overnight visit tomorrow, and already he has made comments about the sickness. “Oh no, it’s our overnight visit this weekend”. I’m concerned he’s going to decide he won’t take them this weekend and then I’ll have terribly upset children.

I’m worried … we have plans to stay with my parents next weekend for my other child’s sporting event and we won’t be able to if we’re ill because of their compromised immunity.  Which means added expense of a hotel room, if I can even get one at this late date.

Last year this child got pneumonia after a cold, same time of year. I’ve been on edge all year every time illness presented itself… will it get that bad again?

I feel like I’m to blame for this virus that has affected my child. I’m not… but my anxiety reaction doesn’t care for reality, it’s there regardless. I recognize that I will feel responsible if my parents get sick shortly after we visit them, even though they are constantly around other people and regularly in hospitals.

I take too much responsibility for things that are out of my control. I feel terrible when diagnosis is delayed, when a cold turns into something worse, when I HAVE to go out and expose others to our germs, when my children get sick. It isn’t helped by people who comment “they’re sick a lot, aren’t they?” No, they actually aren’t. Less than other children actually because they aren’t in school rooms constantly exposed to illness. Children get sick. It’s partly how they build their immunity system.

So why do I feel responsible?


Anxiety isn’t something I can control. It is there. I can manage my reaction, I build skills to work through it, but I can’t stop it from rising, at least I haven’t found a way to yet. It can lie dormant for days until something, usually innocent and minor, triggers it and I’m caught in a vortex of stress, irritability, and tension.

This reaction is partly a result from past abuse. Abusers condition their victims to a) believe they are responsible for protecting the abuser from any and all negativity in life and b) that they are at fault if something goes wrong.

An abuser is never at fault for anything that goes wrong, and someone else is always at fault, no matter how unreasonable that sounds. Illness, accidents, injustice, mistakes, bad choices, misunderstandings, and more are all things that someone should have stopped from happening to the abuser. Someone should have prevented the abuser from suffering the consequences or the stress. Even when it is the abusers choices or actions that cause the problem, someone else is at fault, someone else is blamed… Like the time my ex got a speeding ticket on his way to a meeting but it was my fault because I had recommended the alternate route to him. I was at home with the children, not even in the car.

If something goes wrong, the abuser must be protected from it at all costs. Instead of taking responsibility for their own health, the abuser blames others if they get sick, especially if it causes loss of work.

Sometimes things happen. Mistakes happen. An abuser takes everything personally – if a car cuts them off in traffic they assume it was done on purpose to cause them harm; if someone comes near them when ill, they intended to make the abuser sick so they lose time at work or can’t go have fun with friends. To an abuser, everything has a sinister underlying cause. For a victim, they are usually the scapegoat for the abuser. It’s hard for the victim to let go of the reactions and anxiety of trying to control the uncontrollable.

An anxiety disorder doesn’t care for reality…. I know in my head that I am not responsible, that I have no real reason to be anxious, but the physiological reaction happens anyway… It’s a long-lasting result of intimate abuse.

I won’t let it defeat me.


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