March 27, 2008:

At work I would have terrible panic attacks. She was alone with her car and with the house, so that my imagination steered itself to dark images of sharp blades, or of her passed-out skull slamming under force of gravity against the coffee table's deadly sharp corners.

These were not unreasonable worries. I'd frequently come home to find her passed-out in the doorway, pants around knees, floor and panties soiled with urine, with shards of shattered vodka bottle embedded in her palms or between bleeding fingers. Most of the time the door was open and some of the time there'd be squirrels or wild turkeys sniffing her toes. If it were nighttime it'd be raccoons sniffing her toes, or the blood on her fingers, or the kitchen cabinets.

So I'd grow more stressed as the day grew old. Frequently I'd leave early, to find her bleeding in the doorway, or in the driveway with feet on driver's seat and head on cold concrete. Or worse, she and her car gone, so that the increasingly panic-stricken movies in my head came to center on scenes of fire and gore in turned-over vehicles.

I would try to fight it, stay at work, but the panic became unlivable. I'd hyperventilate in my cubicle, or pace the lunchroom, or climb the stairs to try to exhaust myself. I was not at all reticent with management or coworkers. I told them quite frankly there was an addict at home whose behaviors were self-destructive. They were very understanding and very kind. So long as I completed my weekly assignments they turned a blind eye to my frequent absences.