This post mentions my rainbow pregnancy.
A therapist years ago gave me the exercise to find the color of my headache, to picture it, hold it, watch it shrinking and dissipating. Then check in again, find its new color and examine it, again watch it fade. Over and over until the headache is colorless, painless.
I wonder, if I could find the color of Anxiety, the shape of it, if I put it into art, would it help to dispel it, to soften it? If I were to draw Anxiety, what color would it be? What is its shape? It is not charcoal, like grief. Not the blackness of the despair that yawned wide just under the eggshell-thin surface of my life for so many months. It is not the sharp teeth and long claws of my Grief Monster, nor the safety of its mouth, the warmth of its fur.
It is something—or somethings—shadowy, nebulous. A thick deep blue mist, a purple shifting cloud. A corporeal fog that I struggle to keep at arm’s length, just outside my sphere of vision. It pushes hard against my outstretched hands. Wisps slip past and circle my throat, my heart, my gut.
I fight these shadows blindly. Turn my head and try not to see, try not to hear. They whisper seductively in my ears, promising to soothe me if I will just let them in. And then, sometimes Anxiety is bright and sharp. Fire engine red, screaming alarm in my veins. The white of fear, of the sun when it glares directly into your eyes.
I haven’t done art since this new life started to grow in my womb. Haven’t picked up my charcoal or paintbrushes. Haven’t given image to what is inside me. I wonder about this, the timing. It’s not that I’ve sorted it all out, not that my emotional landscape is any less urgent. This rainbow pregnancy compounds my grief, confuses my heart and brain, tugs me in a million different directions.
I don’t have an explanation for the way my need to do art seemed to disappear around the same time we conceived our second child. A doesn’t hesitate when I ask her Anxiety’s color. “Chartreuse,” she says. “Something electric, but sickly.”
Sometimes at night we are sick with it. A lies with her hand on my belly as I sleep, waiting to feel a kick. I wake in the night to scroll through all the ways this baby could be dying. We try not to feed each other’s anxiety, to take turns reassuring, to be a calm rational beacon for the other. But mostly Anxiety is catching.
Every day, too, Anxiety grows. Thickens, menaces. The stakes are raised with each passing week that Death does not come to visit.
And every day longer that this baby lives, my hope strengthens. It allows me to dream of mothering a living child. The dreams grow each day, and we begin to talk of things like what kind of bassinet, when to rewash all the baby clothes, where to take a car seat to learn how to buckle it in safely.
I feel the most hopeful in the mornings. When the cobwebs of the night’s dreams and nightmares—waking and sleeping—begin to dissipate. When the baby thumps or rolls in the pre-dawn, hungry for my breakfast. When A awakens and, seeing each other, we remember who we are, and know we have survived another night.
The color of hope is goldenrod. Its shape a sunflower, opening and turning its face to follow the sun.
What are you anxious about these days? What are you hopeful for?