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The Case of The What Ifs

what if

What if I can’t let go of the what ifs?

I am the poster child of what ifs. I live my life by it. Try to stay with me for a moment while I invite you into my thought process of panic created by what if.

Son: “Mom, I’m going out. Can I take the car?”

Me: “Sure! Be home before midnight.”

Son: “Ok. Thanks! Love you!”

Seems pretty normal, right? Then my mind starts to swirl as soon as I hear the front door close.

What if he gets a flat tire? What if he loses control? What if he wrecks? What if someone hits him? What if I will never know because he’s driving alone?

Then after the what ifs, pictures enter my mind. The car is tipped over. The seat belt is stuck. The engine is running. Gas is spewing. He’s not able to get out!!

Then…he texts me, “Made it! Love you.”

My anxiety runs high. He still has to drive home!

Think about the anxiety’s you have and how much they control the way you live life. Ever feel better with even numbers? How about when pictures on the wall are crooked? Or when books on a bookshelf are out of order alphabetically? Those are a few that drive me nuts. If you were asked to stop paying attention to those, would you? COULD you?

My “what if” keeps me and those around me, prisoner. I feel like my kids and family can’t breathe because I am smothering them with….But! But! WHAT IF?! It’s a way for me to convince myself that I’m in control. If I can predict what MAY happen, I’m better off. In other words, if something happens that’s too much for me to handle, I can tell myself that I was prepared because I what if’d it. My therapist brought up a good question, “what is the difference between being able to deal with things that may or may not happen and managing it?”  To me, dealing with it means I shrug my shoulders as if no big deal and move on. Just thinking about that makes me feel accomplished and peaceful. Managing is a form of attempting to fix it when it happens without being prepared (emotionally much more difficult.). I use the word “it” loosely and what I mean by “it” is the situations, happenings (tragic or joyful) and so on, that happen in everyday life.  Like, what if this blog ends and I haven’t said everything I want to say?  Oh those nasty what ifs.

The end 2

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