Finding the Sweet Spot Between Naivete and Panic

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.

Thank you for sharing!

12 thoughts on “Finding the Sweet Spot Between Naivete and Panic

  1. Julie Bielecki – Buffalo, NY – A happy ending depends on where, of course, you stop your story. And at any given moment, you have the power to say, "This is not the way the story is going to end." And so that's me- determined to make the good, the bad and the ugly days all part of a tapestry that creates a happy ending. My writing is a glimpse into that story- My struggles, my hopes, my thoughts--I was a teen mom, raised Evangelical and am now Post Evangelical. I was a young widow at 26, and am now a divorced single mom. My life is a messy closet. And if there are moments where you read my stuff and say, "Ahhh- you too? I thought I was the only one." Then my heart will be full. My 3 kids are my best stuff. They make the journey worth the ride. My family is my strength. My faith is both the quiet and confusion of my heart. I'm a lover of God, kindness, running, reading, shopping and beer. Not necessarily in that order. If it has a bow on it, I want it. Make me laugh and we'll always be friends. xo, julie
    Julie Baun says:

    This was so good- it brought tears to my eyes– remembering the same feelings and anxieties–wanting so badly for certain things to be true or not true… There is a balance to be found – even in real authentic love. Thanks for sharing

  2. I am not in a new relationship, but this is a constant fear of mine. Did my first two marriages, and the subsequent betrayal in both, damage me to the point that I will never fully trust again? That I’ll never be able to unconditionally open up my heart to someone? It freaks me out just thinking about it. Then I start to worry that because I’m already worried, I will never find anyone to love again anyway. Oye, it’s just crazy!

  3. I know so many go through this, even if they are in a 2nd or 3rd marriage that is oh so good. Those memories from the previous marriage, especially if we were the ones who truly got hurt send up a ‘red alert signal’ often when there really does need to be one. Its always important to check in on ‘the state of the union’ with our current spouse, but the past does not have to be the present and letting of the stories and beliefs we created about ourselves from the past is so important. When dreams about the hurt from the past come up we know that our higher self is nudging us to let go of some old memory , experience or story. Turning towards our current spouse to openly and vulnerably share often bonds the marriage even more.

  4. livebysurprise – Liv is the pseudonym reformed divorcee and single mom - now married, coparenting and working mother of three. She's been featured on ScaryMommy, HuffPost Divorce, The Mid and More at
    livebysurprise says:

    Yep. Me too. The relationship PTSD hits still when I least expect it. I’m lucky to have an understanding husband. So are you. 😊

  5. Christine Amoroso – California transplant in Italy – I am a sister, mother, nonna and loyal friend. I am most proud of these relationships. They are my greatest accomplishment. In 2017 I took a leave from a 20 year career in education, the last 14 years as a school administrator. I sold everything I owned and moved to Italy to write and have a little adventure. I returned a year later with the manuscript for my first book, Bare Naked in Pubic, to be published by Top Reads Publishing in April 2024. I love writing. It has helped me organize my thoughts and work through some pretty tough life lessons. It was writing that gave me the courage to change my life for the better. I encourage everyone to tell and share their stories. It's the only way we can find our way back to each other. Thanks for stopping by :-)
    Bare Naked in Public says:

    I have taken a break from finding love. But what you wrote makes me feel hopeful ❤️❤️❤️

  6. What I enjoy most about your writings is the honest flaws of all our egos. In my opinion we all are so selfish, self centered and so blind. So hopeful yet not nearly as loving of one another as we should be. It seems like a chaotic mess but yet we manage to stop to smell more than roses. And with your words this last month, as I stumble out of my 20 year marriage and fall into your collection of thoughts I see I am not alone in the other side, I just hope my ex realizes this as well…. there are two sides to everything, and if we ALl love this world and each other as we should, than there are really over 9 billion sides. Peace sign Lisa. Love yer work

    1. We easily occupy the echo chamber of our minds and fail to weigh equally other – and often valid- perspectives. May your stumbles soon turn to confident strides.

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