We all have fears of something that can actually happen. Some might have a family history of breast cancer, so they fear that they too might develop it. Others might have a fear of a mental disorder being pasted down from generation to generation. Some might have a fear of a hurricane destroying their homes. Others might fear tornadoes.
These are all very realistic fears. We all have them and it’s completely normal.
But what do you do when your fear becomes a reality? When something happens that you have been dreading for the longest time. The whole ‘worst case scenario’ becomes the ACTUAL scenario?
The phrase ‘I don’t know’ becomes quite common in your vocabulary. What happens next? I don’t know. What do I do for the time being? I don’t know. How am I supposed to handle this? I don’t know.
You enter a huge state of panic and fear that your brain is no longer processing the way it should. It’s either going a mile a minute producing everything that can get worse and causing you to sweat profusely or your brain is just a blank. I’ve had both happen to me recently. Either I can’t think of a single thing or I can think of a million and one things and none of them are good and none of them will help the situation.
The most important response that I have come up with is: Breathe.
You have to remember to breathe. Oxygen needs to go to the brain so it can think and figure this shit out. You have to keep breathing.
And like a puzzle, you have to start moving things around. Start with the pieces that you know can already fit together and start there. Start small. Take baby steps. And remember to always breathe.
Time will move a lot slower than you would like for the next few days. It’s amazing how the hours can drag on when you know that you have so much happening in your life that needs solved. You’re in a state of discomfort and you want them solved immediately, but that’s not how the world works. Things take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your solutions.
In addition to a slower moving clock, you will notice that you can cry rivers. Tears seem to appear out of nowhere. You almost feel thirsty afterwards because your body has just released so much water. Pillowcases become drenched, tee shirts of loved ones become soaked when they hold you to comfort you, tissues fill up every waste basket, and your face becomes almost permanently creased with every crinkle your face has made. You can never cry enough. When you feel that you have cried all that you could and you start to move along, some other trigger will happen and you’ll be in tears yet again.
You have to start building again knowing that you’re on a different land but it just feels too different. It doesn’t feel like a place solid enough to start again.
I don’t really like it when my life is in a state of disarray. I’m not sure anyone does. But, I like to have some sort of security in my life. I like to have a plan; a goal. I want to know where I’m going and what I’m working towards.
When I don’t have a plan, I start to crumble even faster. My world – which is already quaking beneath me – starts to rip apart and the cracks get bigger.
As humans, we are all flawed. We have parts of us that just aren’t perfect. This too is okay. No one is asking anyone to be perfect. But sometimes, you wish you were. In instances like these, when your fears have come to life and are wrecking it, you want to know the perfect solution. You want to be the one who responds in such a way that when you tell the stories others they say, “I couldn’t have done it better myself.” You want to know that what you did (or are doing) is right; it’s going to be good. You want to know that things are going to work out and you’re going to be happy.
But when you have your fear staring you in the face. It’s hard to see anything else.
Your eyes form a sort of tunnel vision and you no longer see the exits around you. You no longer feel in control and level headed. You freeze in sheer panic and you don’t know what to do.
You just don’t know.
Every possibility seems impossible.
So do I know what comes next? No. Have my days been slow? Unbelievably. Will I be okay? At this point, I don’t even know. I’m sure I will be but for now, I’m not. Has my world ended? Yes. And I’m trying my very best to get it back together.
And when I do, hopefully I’ll have a better response to someone else who asks me what to do when their fear has just become their reality.