Collapse and terror

I’m ‘trigger warning’ this post as it is about ecological collapse and societal breakdown again, which I know I find deeply triggering at times. I thought about posting it on my other blog, but the therapy relationship and young parts and complex trauma is so central to what I’m struggling with that it needs to go here, and there are young and teen parts around that need to have their say too so I expect this post will have some switching so we can all get our words out.

It is hard to find the words to express the level of terror my system is experiencing right now about what is ahead for us humans and the planet that is our home, about how it will affect us personally and the reality that, once the environmental shit really hits the fan, we will not be able to see K anymore. This fear feels so primal. At times all I can feel is blind panic at the idea of being left alone to die (ring any bells…) and the acute pain of being abandoned. My greatest fear about the societal collapse that is being driven by intensifying climate and environmental crises is not being able to get to K, and of course this has been triggered – again – by the news of her house move. It had settled for a while again, awareness of the crisis had been mostly integrated into my daily life instead of surfacing in waves of shock and horror and subsiding, and healthy grief had surfaced. I had – for the most part – settled back into the present again, and had connected with joy and beauty and found solace and affinity in spending time with new, like-minded, open-hearted people. Then K’s impending house move came along and totally obliterated everything and sent my system spiralling back into utter madness over the prospect of near-time societal collapse.

Today has been so fucking hard. I have felt all smashed up inside, have barely done any work, have dissolved into sobbing grief over the loss of the house and all it symbolises, have text and emailed K with questions, and am now waiting for tomorrow when at least she will hopefully know where exactly she will be living in 5 weeks’ time. All of these things, these worries, can be resolved by settling into a new pattern, getting to know a new place, learning that she is the same in the new house, and so on. They are worries that can be soothed and can subside, but underneath all of that is the creeping, debilitating fear of societal breakdown and being taken away from her, being unable to reach her as the planet burns and wars rage, and crops fail, and water runs out. And this is not a fear that can be soothed away because as irrational as it seems, it is also a rational fear based upon what science and experts are telling us. We are in the sixth mass extinction and a million species are threatened with near-time extinction. We are running out of time to avoid mass starvation and displacement on a global scale. These fears are so young but they cannot be soothed by evidence of K’s care and commitment because they are fears of what is very likely to come to pass, whether it is in two years, or five or ten.

K will only be about 26 miles further away than she is now when she moves, but those 26 miles make all the difference between being able to get to her still after societal breakdown (whilst there is still food and water at least), and not being able to get there at all.

Now – 13.3 miles: a 70 minute bike ride

After the move – 39+ miles: a 4 hour hilly bike ride

Even with a skill to swap as we (hopefully) transition to a skills-based economy, that is too far to do regularly, perhaps even ever if things really go to shit. The horrors we envisage, the horrors we know will be unleashed as the crisis intensifies, are beyond comprehension, and the thought of not having K there as it unfolds is literally the worst thing imaginable some days. So yes, there is worry about adding 60-90 minutes of travelling each week to an already busy life when K moves, but beyond this there are fears of what this change means in the face of the collapse which is coming, even though we don’t and can’t know precisely when.

Ecological collapse-induced societal breakdown is not far off. Some would say it is already happening. Things are happening so much faster than expected – The Arctic is literally on fire, pouring the equivalent of Sweden’s total annual emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere as it does so, permafrost is melting 70 years sooner than was expected even relatively recently, fascism and the far right are rising as environmentalists predicted would happen with the declines in the Earth’s resources, the list goes on. And we have to phase out cars if we are to survive as a species and I am invested in that, but I will need my car to get to therapy once K moves, and I am invested in that too. I am deeply invested in this aspect of the status quo even as I rebel against it. It sickens me. If we manage to salvage parts of this civilisation as it goes down maybe there will be some kind of transport available to get me there, but if not then 40 miles between us might as well be 400.

And it terrifies us. Not being able to get to K while the world is burning and everyone is dying fills me with genuine terror. To survive, maybe communities will be built and some people will transition to a gentler and kinder way of living, but even so her community will not be mine. She will not gather me in and scoop me close to her as the horrors unfold – even if she wanted me in her tribe she could not do that. And there is no one to talk to about this. So many people think societal collapse is an irrational fear or cannot comprehend it at all, despite what the scientists and experts are saying about its likelihood, despite the food shortages, droughts, famines, wildfires, storm surges, flooding, earthquakes that we see all around and are told will worsen to the point of catastrophe as the planet warms and the ecosystems collapse. And those who ‘get’ the horrors that are ahead wouldn’t get what the fear of being separated from a therapist is like, or what it is like to look like a grown woman but to have a host of freaked out child parts living inside you, peering out in horror at the future they envisage. I am scared there is not even time to build a community or fall in love with someone who will love me back and hold my hand through all this. And I am so fucking furious that my life is finally basically how I want it to be and I am in a place – physically and emotionally – that I could imagine being in for years and years, and yet it is being taken away from me. All those years wanting to die and now I want to live, I want a life, and yet all the time the ticking time-bomb of environmental and societal collapse is counting down. I am finally getting what I want and I cannot keep it. And I am finally in a place in therapy where I really believe that K will not go away and we can work together for as long as I need, and yet she could so easily be taken away by forces outside of our control. I literally fucking hate the fact that I am alive during this time. Out of all the times to be alive the one where the future is disappearing in front of our eyes as we look on powerlessly is actually the worst imaginable. I literally want to fucking die to avoid what is ahead.

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