It comes and goes, doesn’t it? That impossibly quick, fleeting sense that there’s some sort of void you can’t quite put your finger on. It strikes at the oddest but not necessarily the most inconvenient times – it will come when you’re casually conversing with a friend, cashing a check, or stopped in the middle of morning traffic.
The feeling doesn’t exactly follow the textbook definition of anxiety, although you do feel a split-second of anxiousness before it passes. As you contemplate your current stressors, you know your general worries aren’t so unique. Your struggles likely don’t deviate too far from those of your mail carrier or next-door neighbor or local bartender or priest or divorce attorney.
Yet you don’t know what the source of this passing feeling is. You don’t know how it is possible to feel everything and nothing all at once. But you do feel it long enough to capture a sense of mysterious loss.
You liken this brief but unpleasant feeling to the times your mother left you at preschool for the day, but seemingly for eternity. You liken it to the loneliness that manifested itself when your best friend was too sick to come to school and tend the sandbox with you. And depending on the severity of this momentary panic, it sometimes feels akin to the feeling you had when you found that a beloved childhood toy was suddenly made broken beyond repair.
The feeling is similar to these things, but different somehow. Sometimes you think that each time this feeling comes to call, you’re closer to ascribing an image to it. You haven’t yet, but after 20 or so years, you know it will happen eventually. Sometimes the image looks like a vast, empty room with sparse furniture and no windows.
But more recently it has taken on the appearance of a rising tidal wave before it breaks. It doesn’t break though, and the huge room you’ve envisioned doesn’t collapse on you either when that image starts to come together, because the swift sinking feeling has escaped you yet again. Or you escaped it.
It is not like being unable to wake up from the classic nightmare in which you are running, running to save your life from an unknown assailant in a heart-pounding, pulse-quickening chase. It’s more like being in the midst of a dream and suddenly realizing it is in fact just a dream and desperately trying to hold onto whatever alternate realities your mind is engaging.
You hate this feeling, but want to grasp onto it long enough to understand it. But you cannot stop the morning light from continuing to break through your eyelids as your body gradually slips back into consciousness.