Being excessively prepared is normal to me. I’ve learned that to others, this appears like I’m doing well, put together, on top of my game… In reality, I’m prepared because I’m very afraid of what happens if I’m not. I’m often the person in a room that has a band-aid, extra sanitary products, baby wipes, pain medicine, and snacks. I don’t plan ahead because I’m intentionally thoughtful, but because I imagine being stuck on the side of the road or trapped in an elevator. On particularly irrational days, my anxiety sends me down pathways of worry related to being locked in grocery stores because I didn’t hear the last call announcement or other bizarre scenarios. When I still needed a diaper bag, I typically carried an extra outfit and two diapers for every hour or two I planned to be out. I packed baby food pouches, sanitizing wipes and baby wipes, a thermometer, acetaminophen, bug spray, sunblock, a waterproof bag to put icky things in, a couple of grocery bags to use to throw things away in, bottled water, and more. My kids are older now and I don’t haul around as much on a regular basis, but packing for any trip, even just a day trip, is something I dread. Those who understand what happens in my head lovingly plan at least 48 hours out, because without time to be prepared, I just don’t do as well. Without time to get ready, I feel directly responsible for everything that goes wrong and it takes quite a bit of emotional effort to not shut down, even when I know it isn’t really my fault. I only look organized because my brain lives in the city of What If and my various trains of thought move freely, collecting more and more emotional cargo with each stop. My house is evidence that being this anticipatory isn’t truly sustainable. We’re not meant to be ever at the ready for bad things to happen, but anxiety is a continuous state of fight or flight. Being hyper-vigilant only goes so far before the brain and body say no more. Currently, I crawl over my husband to get to my side of the bed because the floor is covered in stuff I just can’t deal with yet. In his sleep, he’ll hear me ask him to move his feet. He tucks up into a ball so I can get in and out and I hear him mumble to me not to say I’m sorry after I apologize and I bite my lip, remembering not to apologize for my apology. Some of my most vivid nightmares involve being a ghost in my own home, listening to the conversations people have about what a bad homemaker I was as they clean up my mess. I try to help them clean, to prove my worth, and the clothes and random trinkets of my life fall through my hands.