The Cape House

My Shitty Neighbor

I’ve had three anxiety attacks in the past 72 hours. 

For the English majors, that’s an average of one per day. 

The first one was in Target, while I waited in the checkout line with my husband and the kids. I had to take off my mask and gasp for air, then lay my head down on the bagging area.

“Mommy, are you okay?” Akiva asked.

“Just not feeling well for a second,” I croaked.

Hubby sent me out to the car, where I sat in a blast of A/C until they came out.

The second one was right after we signed the contract on the house we’re renting. This time, my throat locked up. 

“Breathe…God’s got this…” Hubby said.

He was right, but not helpful. 

The third one is right now. 

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I have a diagnosis of mild anxiety (surprise!), but these episodes are in a whole other league than what I’m used to. I suspect it has something to do with picking up my entire family and moving across the ocean.

Making Aliyah is not just a series of mega-decisions (Are we going? Where will we live? When do we leave?) but an onslaught of micro-decisions (Rent a car or buy? Secondhand furniture or Ikea? Maccabi or Clalit health insurance?) that can leave you reeling. Pair them with the hundreds of little tasks required to get the move off the ground (selling furniture, getting kids’ medical records, sorting through clothes, seeing friends and family to say goodbye), and you have the makings of a big, fat anxiety attack. 

Only one attack per day is pretty good, considering.

I’ve been around this block before so I know all about breathing and meditating and exercising and praying and making calls and trusting God and visualization and drinking tea and yoga and blah blah blah. I know all the things you’re supposed to do. But sometimes, even when you do the things, it doesn’t help. Sometimes, anxiety gives you the finger and moves into the house next door.

So what to do?

Years ago, we had a neighbor who hated us from the moment we moved in. She complained if we left our garbage cans out a day after pickup or if our car was parked on the street. She went to the city when we built a Sukkah in our front yard, and once, she called the cops because our van was facing the wrong direction – AND THEY TOWED IT. 

I wanted to put a dirty diaper in her mailbox but I didn’t because I was busy getting my car back. Also, I knew that if I got into it with her, it would only make it worse.  

So it is now. Anxiety is the shitty neighbor who makes trouble when she feels like it and will never move away. But if I get into it with her, it will only make things worse.  Instead, I will ignore her crotchety ass and go on my merry fucking way.

Besides, she’s only one house on the street.

And the rest of the neighbors like me.

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