The call is coming from inside the house

The spookiest tricks are the ones you play on yourself

My first concert was the B96 Halloween Bash. I was mostly there for Hanson, but other notable acts like the Backstreet Boys and Robyn performed. The arena was bright and energetic on a dark night, until the moment before the concert started when the lights went down and the screen started playing a scene from an unfamiliar movie. Drew Barrymore was on the phone with a terrifying-sounding dude who kept asking her about her favorite scary movie. Then, in a flash, he ran by her window, and again, and again, and we’re all in on the secret that she is growing increasingly aware of: He was right behind her all along.

I love scary movies, a family trait of all Ortbergs, and as someone who is a very anxious person, I appreciate them for their ability to take me outside of my scary mind for a little while and place me in someone else’s scary life. Tonight, I am going to make a big pot of soup and make my husband watch It Follows and try, for a little while, to outrun the spoooooky anxious thoughts that collect in my head. Things like:

  • Life is terrifying and long and there are so many empty days ahead of you and how will you fill them up??
  • You are really bad at your job!!!
  • Everyone is just pretending to like you
  • The future will be full of hard things that you don’t know how to handle
  • Anyone you love could die at any moment!
  • All your attempts at finding meaning and connection are futile!
  • Your writing sucks and you shouldn’t even bother to do it
  • You never know when a panic attack might hit, so let’s only think about that possibility and be afraid of it
  • Maybe even God doesn’t really care that much about you
  • You will fail at everything you do!!!

Anxiety is like the dang call coming from inside the house. Does anyone know how to disconnect that line?

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