wednesday addams, dread-spreading, dread, fear, paranoia, panic, anxiety


The other night I was out to dinner (imagine that) and just as everyone was chucking ice cubes into their herbal teas (hotter than the sun) and winding things up (so it must have been, ooh, 9:45?), a particularly wonderful woman pulled me to one side and said, ‘‘I’ve worked out why I’m feeling so weird. It’s because…” and put voice to a mutual concern of ours that I was very consciously keeping at arm’s length. I was not letting that particular worry in because I was aware that, if I did? Can open. Worms everywhere. Which is exactly what happened. After that 15-second exchange with that particularly wonderful woman I didn’t sleep for three nights. Because, with the best intentions in the world, what she had done was dread-spread. If a problem shared is a problem halved, then a shared dread acknowledged has a conversely amplifying effect.

This was the kind of worry that no one could do anything about. It was a waiting game worry which is why I was not letting it in. Nothing could be done. Admitting its lurking presence would only disturb. It was not some kind of psychological revelation, it was merely dread. It could not be converted into excitement, it needed to be left well alone.

Here are two more apparently innocent examples of dread-spreading: ‘How’s your love life?’ and ‘How’s the job hunt?’ So, in these scenarios, I know I am single and I know I am unemployed. If there was anything to report then I would have brought it up myself. If someone is in a vulnerable position then maybe don’t leap in and ask if anything has happened to alleviate that vulnerability and the accompanying shame/worry/fear because it just reinvigorates it. The takeaway is this: do not dread-spread. If something dodgy is bubbling then leave it the hell alone. You will be told when you need to know…

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