Is it possible for me to stop panicking over what may happen? I’m panicking now. My internal panic machine wants to take over. It is hard to slow down or think. The source of the panic is my fear of what may happen when Will comes home.
All good panics have, at their root, an unknowable, unanswerable question. Hence, the panic. (I wonder if people lacking imagination suffer panics?) Anyway, I am fearful of an unknown and unknowable future event. Thinking about how improbable it is that I will accurately predict the future helps to slow the panic machine.
I think to myself:
- I’m not the only one who can’t tell the future for certain.
- I am not alone in wondering how to stop panicking.
- And I’m definitely not the first person to sweat, curse my rapid heart rate or experience racing thoughts.
Recognizing those things makes me feel better. I still feel the panic machine. It’s not grinding to a halt, but it is reducing in effectiveness. That’s a good thing.
Let’s see if I can get my panic machine to power off. Maybe I can stop panicking over what may happen by telling myself the truth.
I know this post looks too neat and clean for a person who is in a state of panic to create. It is. I’m posting this after the fact. My written journal page is much messier than this. To stop panicking, cut yourself some slack and just write. No perfection required. So, on we go…
I Can Stop Panicking By Telling the Truth
To stop panicking, you have to hang in there with it for a minute. You have to feel the panic. Isn’t feeling the panic what we want to stop doing? Well yes, but only by acknowledging and listening to the panic can you hope to relieve it. First, listen to the panic. What is it saying to you?
Now that you’re tuned into the panic, you can boil down what you’re panicking over into questions. After you get one question answered, there will be a next one. Keep asking questions and providing answers until you have a mini-plan for your what ifs. Then you’ll be able to stop panicking.
Examples of How to Tell the Truth and Stop Panicking
First, questions that address what I’m panicking over, followed by mini-plans that help me stop panicking:
What if I can’t stand his behavior?
Over the past 10 months, I’ve created a support network and broken my silence about the abuse in my marriage. I have friends and professionals who will support me through tough situations – I don’t have to deal with it alone. Besides, I’ve stood his behavior for a very long time and I’m not dead yet.
What if he overpowers me mentally and emotionally and I shrink back into nothingness?
You know, he has a lot of practice overpowering me. It’s a real concern. At times, I might feel overpowered and alone.
But I know that feeling now. I know that feeling isn’t right. I know that feeling is only a sign that I need to do something differently. The feeling is not the end, but the beginning. If I feel that feeling, it’s a sign to me to review the situation, decide what boundaries he crossed, and analyze my responses for what did or didn’t work. I can build from that point forward.
Maybe it’s the Pollyanna in me, but I cannot truly conceive of me shrinking back into nothingness. It’s just not gonna happen.
What if he turns the boys against me?
If he does, then I have the history of love and honesty with our boys to combat anything their father tells them. It is going to take more than a few comments or secret conversations to turn those boys against me. And besides, I don’t have to play the game. I don’t have to defend myself to the boys. I don’t have to say bad things about my husband to the boys. That’s just not me.
What if he leaves me? What if I decide it’s best for me to leave him?
Then that’s that, isn’t it? Leaving my marriage does not automatically cut him from my life, and I know that. That is part of the reason I chose not to leave months before. And if I’m on my own with no income, no way to support myself and the boys, then I have family who will support me as I get up on my feet. I won’t need that type of support forever, and I will repay it with interest in the future. Leaving isn’t the end of my world – it’s my last choice, but not the end of me.
What if I have to leave the house to escape the anger so much that I cannot be at home when he is?
Now that, my friends, would truly suck. I think I’ve identified a sticking point in my plan. This is a very good thing because now I can think of a better plan. Although I hope to stop the abuse as it occurs, many of the available tools in my arsenal assume that Will also wants to stop the abuse. I will go over my planned responses (aka boundaries) and come up with some solutions that don’t require me to leave the house every time something goes awry.
What if he is not willing to stop his abusive tactics? What if he won’t work with me to change the dynamic in our marriage?
He has said that he does wish for it to stop, and second-guessing him is not going to get me to calm. I must simply wait and watch what he does. He can say anything, but being aware of what he does is the key.
Plus, there is some mandatory counseling he must attend when he returns due to the event that happened last December. If he truly wants the abuse to stop, then the counseling will be valuable to him and will help him to overcome the negative behaviors he exhibits with me.
Okay. I think the panic is gone. And whaddya know? I didn’t have to shrink back into myself to find the calm.