I had a bit of a freak out earlier this week. Actually, to be completely truthful, I’m still trying to tame the freak out.
The specifics don’t really matter here. What you need to know is this – I saw a small thing. A no-thing. A thing with no supporting things to make it into some-thing.
And I initially brushed it off as the no-thing it is.
But my brain had other ideas. You see, in my first marriage, I was naive. Completely ignorant, partly from an inability to face the reality and partly because I had complete (and blind) trust in my husband. And once you’ve been fooled, you feel pretty stupid. And you vow to never be fooled again.
And so my brain, completely ignoring the facts and the current reality, tapped on my dreams, whispering, “Are you sure? Remember what happened before? Don’t be stupid.”
I awoke the first two times from those nocturnal nudgings agitated and also annoyed. Unlike marriage numero uno, I am not afraid to face reality (no matter how ugly it may be) and I also don’t have a husband that leaves maybe-they-are-things-but-his-explanation-sounds-legit behind him like a trail of breadcrumbs. So I wasn’t freaked out; I saw those questions as what they were – ghosts of marriage past.
And I feel strongly that it’s important not to punish a new partner for the sins of the old.
But then the dreams came a third time. And this time was different. I awoke at 4:00 am and made my way downstairs. I felt sick from the anxiety that was building within my body. The questions took over, roiling in my mind like water on a hot stove. And as I sat there, waiting to start my coffee and my day, the no-thing grew into a big thing.
I still thought the questions were misplaced, asked years too late and directed at the wrong person, but after the third dream, I realized they needed to be asked.
And I’m so glad I did. Not only was Brock’s response perfect, but I felt my fears lift as I uttered the questions. I think my brain was just insisting that I not only face it alone, that I trust the marriage enough to face it as a team.
Now the voices have quieted, leaving me with only the residual mess to clean up.
But it’s not easy.
Finding the sweet spot between perpetual suspicion and willing blindness.
Between panic and naivete.
Learning to distinguish between past and present.
And trusting that you will see the some-things and learn to brush off the no-things.
Because if you see some-thing in every-thing, no-thing grows to fill the expectations.
Brock asked me what he could do to help. And it made me realize the futility of his position. He did nothing to cause my freak out and there’s nothing he can do to help ease the anxiety. Other than be himself and be patient with me.
Because one of the side effects of my past is that I no longer trust words (and even actions after-the-fact). They’re simply too easy to manipulate.
I feel like I spend the majority of time comfortably toeing the line between the two extremes. And it’s been quite a while since I had a freak out like this one.
And this was a good reminder not to ever get so comfortable with anything that you become complacent.
Navigating the sweet spot between naivete and panic cannot be undertaken on autopilot.