When Your Brain Sees No Point In Being Rational

I guess it was best I had some steadfast delusions when I was a young adult. Pretty sure that was about five years ago. 

Those delusions shielded me from some harsh realities. My biggest delusion? Believing you get a well of wisdom and serenity bestowed upon you about the same time you are eligible to join AARP. I don’t know why I thought that. My entire belief was founded in a pool of information my brain made up. You know, science-y stuff.

Anyway, I did not glide into my fifth decade with composure I possessed as a reward for not dying young.

I still get spooked super easy. Same as when I was young.

By “spooked easy” I mean “not rational”.

Since my brain sees no point in being rational, I am often struck with extreme terror that something tragic happened.

The other night, for instance. Randy was still out of town and I was alone most evenings. I am not going to lie, there is an allure to having space all to myself. I can eat what I feel like eating and watch what I want. What’s not to love? I totally love it. For about an hour. Then, I really want my boys around.

One evening, I sat out on the deck. The air was brisk, but definitely spring like. I heard a fuck ton of sirens. First police or ambulance sirens and then firetrucks. This happened about the time Joey comes home from work. The sirens sounded like they were on the road he would be driving on to get home.

There are like a zillion cars on Tylersville. It’s not Joey. It might not even be a car crash. Maybe, there is a house on fire. Or maybe, there’s a car on fire. But not Joey’s car. Definitely not Joey’s car. 

But it could be Joey. I mean, it’s definitely possible. 

So, I did what I do, and I sent him a text.

Me: Hey baby. I just heard a fuck ton of sirens and I’m freaking out because I’m a crazy person. Are you okay?

Joey: No. There all these cars chasing me.

Joey: It’s annoying.

So, he was fine.

I hate panicking. I hate being afraid. I hate bracing myself for an emotional blow I completely make up.

Even so, I am trying to find silver linings where I can these days.  I’m not making much progress in my transformation into the peaceful old lady phase, but I do look forward to Joey’s responses to my panic texts. He started responding in this manner around 4 years ago.

Randy and I left him alone for a weekend when he was 15 years old so we could visit our mountain friends. I was uneasy the entire trip. The bass player reminded me multiple times that Joey was probably having sex. In fact, mountain girl and the bass player even made up a “Joey’s getting laid” song.

I sent Joey a text as the evening grew late and asked if he was okay.

Joey: No. I accidentally started a game of Jumanji. There are rhinos everywhere. Robin Williams is on my bed.

Joey: Send help.

If I’m not going to get issued any “old lady calm”, then I might as well be entertained while I panic. I do so love my son. He makes me laugh.

I hope I didn’t ruin anything for those of you who still believe that one day you get to be serene and wise without doing the work it takes to find serenity and wisdom. You might as well know the truth. The tranquility fairy isn’t real.

Or maybe, I’m just being impatient. Maybe, I’m not quite old enough yet. You don’t know.


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  • So glad your son has a sense of humour. But how could he not? He’s got your a mom…Oh yeah and Randy’s ok too

  • Thank goodness it’s not just me. When my kids are with their dad, I get anxious and scan the newspaper looking for car accidents or other tragedies with unnamed kids (because they’re still trying to notify family). I also get very upset if someone tells me about a car accident along the kids route to school from my ex.

    Stupid brain.

  • Anxiety is my middle name too. I love how your son uses humour to diffuse your panic signals- so smart of him.
    Check out the natural health supplement N.A.C. ie N-acetyl-cysteine for yourself. I’m not gonna peddle stuff but it looks like it might help with anxiety and depression. Worth a look IMHO. I am going to give it a try and will let you know.

  • I only mention it BUT, as I close in on 60 (it’s still 2 years off DAMMIT!) I panic *slightly* less than I did at, say, 52. It’s a close thing though. Wisdom and calm haven’t come with age – laziness has. I just can’t be fully arsed anymore.

  • My two sons are in their 40’s, now. (!!!!!!!) In the last 10 years or so, they’ve enjoyed playing a game where they tell me about the stuff they did during their teenage years that I DIDN”T know about at the time. It goes like this: “Hey, Mom, remember the time you thought we were spending the night at Ron’s house? Well, we were really . . . . . . . .”
    Arrrgh! Why do they have to tell me now, except to have fun watching me cringe? I could have gone to my grave in blissful ignorance.

  • I’m sitting here a little stressed because mammogram. The tech called my scar a scar (from the lumpectomy) when I prefer to call it a dimple. A really big dimple. Anyway, five years out, and it’s supposed to be all good now, right?
    So hubby knows I’m stressing a little, (we both work from home), and he stands up and wanders around and roars a little, and when I looked up, he roared and wobbled his hands a little, and said, from the doorway, “I’m a dino-door!”
    I LOVE that he makes me laugh when I’m stressing.

  • yeah, that “serene” thing aint happening kiddo….and I’m much older than you. But at least you have a funny kid to see you through this thing called life!

  • I’m still waiting at 62! …but the meds help….sometimes.
    Keep sharing your journey…I’ve just started following!!!

  • At a time when so many of us desperately need hope for the future Joey gives me hope for the future. That’s an important thing. It helps that he’s being raised by great parents, but what matters is as long as the kids are all right the world will be all right.

  • It’s not just you. No kids here, but if my dog doesn’t come to greet me first thing in the morning, I’m convinced he’s died in the night. Love Joey’s replies. It’s an awesome way to deal with your panic.

    • I do the same thing with Alfie the Kitty. If I can’t find him right away, then something horrible has happened. I assume he’s choked on something.

  • Your Joey is hilarious; you raised him well!
    I’m still waiting for that serenity thing but I must admit, it scares me. Would it stop me from being cautious? Affect my urban intuition that has served me well? Is serenity overrated?

  • One reason I love your blog? I realize I’m not the only nut on the tree. Like I’m not the only one who panics if the cat isn’t up yowling first thing every morning, thinking she surely died in the night somehow. The only thing getting older gets you is more of these things/people to worry about/obsess about/panic about. Like…..grandchildren. Yep, them too. The tranquility fairy is a big fat hoax.

  • Um…being logical doesn’t help. I am pretty logical, and I still have worries about people I care about that may be irrational. Maybe that is the creative side of me though…but I think it’s just the caring part of us. I would be more worried if I didn’t worry actually.

  • Maybe we were lied to about what serenity is really like and this is just it?
    Everything always reminds me of a song, and this reminded me of “In The Cage” off of “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway” by Genesis:

    If I keep my self-control,
    I’ll be safe in my soul.
    And the childhood belief
    Brings a moment’s relief,
    But my cynic soon returns
    And the lifeboat burns.
    My spirit just never learns.

    Songs to me are little sane spaces I can rely on to keep saying the thing I know, even as I learn new things about whatever it is, and that may be as close to serenity as I ever get, and if so, that’s OK.

  • Sarcasm is far more reassuring than any other tone, in my experience. It’s sort of like how, if you wake up from a nightmare about axe murderers, getting up to check all the locks and windows is actually the worst thing: better to stay in bed and reassure yourself that the house is locked up tight because of course it is. As soon as a danger is acknowledged, it becomes more real.

  • When Hubs and I were engaged, he went on a business trip to NYC and, when I couldn’t reach him at his hotel, I became convinced that he’d been mugged and murdered. It was all part of my “if things are great, something bad is going to happen to fuck it up” belief, cultivated by a super-dysfunctional family that inevitably made that belief come true. It’s taken some therapy and just some brain retraining, but I don’t always automatically go to the dark place first anymore. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s learning that I can trust the universe more than I originally thought, or maybe it’s accepting that worrying about shit isn’t going to change the outcome. Everyone’s mileage may vary (as does mine, depending on the day, how much sleep I’ve had, and how grown up I’m feeling). It’s terrific that your son meets you where you are (with a fabulous sense of humor).

    • I am right there with you..although, I am still a “go to the worse possible outcome” kind of person. Maybe it’s changed some over the years, but not much.

  • The panic! I felt it one morning after I had dropped my son off at school. I got home to find he’d left the door open when he ran back in to get his backpack. No biggie there. But, the police showed up half an hour later. (Turns out the neighbors called them to let them know there might be suspicious activity happening as the door was open.) When I saw the police through the window, my first thought was, “Jason was in a car accident!” I seriously debated running out the back door to avoid the whole thing. I think they thought it was strange that I stood there for a little while before opening the door.

  • If my husband is 10 minutes late, I imagine him in all kinds of car accidents. One of my aunts really did die in a car accident, but this fear long predated that incident. Since he ignores phone calls, phone messages and doesn’t text, I wouldn’t even be able to contact him.

  • OH, no, you’re doing this right. What we get at age 50 is a pass on any delusions we want to peddle along with more clarity which we are not obligated to share. Good job parenting. Joey is a win. I might like to rent him some time.

    Actually, the story I’m running on my blog is the fruition of a delusion. We may be able to make them lucrative.

By Michelle


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