Robin Rendle
• San Francisco, California

Omens

It starts with the jaw; wires taught, grinding teeth, clenched muscles running up and down each cheek. I catch myself biting my lower lip and pulling funny faces in an effort to release the tension. But where is all this stress coming from?

For me, there’s no apocalypse. Nothing bad is looming on the horizon and yet my body is looking for disaster, a great tragedy, the end of days.

Except right now I’m extraordinarily happy. Happier than I’ve ever been, really. For the first time in my life I have a stable home and a loving partner. I have a great job and my career is plodding along. If you told me ten years ago that I’d be here, sat at this very desk, I’d disappear in a puff of smoke.

But if everything’s so fine and dandy then why is body responding in this way? Why do I feel as if there’s some ill fortune destined to befall me when I wake up? And why in the absolute eff is my jaw clamping up like this?

Celine asked me why I’m feeling like this and I said perhaps it’s because I have skin in the game now. She laughed and rolled her eyes a bit because I was half joking. But it’s true! I have so much to be thankful right now but also so very much to lose. With great power comes great responsibility (and myriad ways to disappoint the ones you love).

Yes, yes yes, I know what my therapist might say. “This is a complex due to an uncertain childhood. You don’t want to be made a fool of when something terrible happens and it’s absolutely due to your relationship with stress and how you think it makes you more intelligent, more powerful, more useful the more stressed you are. If you’re stressed then no-one can hoodwink you and nothing can ever be taken away.”

And to that, I’d say: shut up, therapy.