What If

Let’s do this together.

Take a deep breath in, and think of one thing that is bringing you down.

It’s winter. It’s cold. Maybe, like me, you have a runny nose and a slight headache.

Now exhale, and think of one thing that is lifting you up.

Do you love your job? That’s good! Do you have a friend/partner/spouse to hang out with? That’s so nice! Do you have a warm fuzzy (or scaly, if that’s your thing) creature to snuggle when you get home? Aren’t they the best!?

Our kitty Lucy (aka Smooshy) sleeping on my favorite cozy sweatshirt.

Thanks. I needed that. Now, on to business!

I’m in a bit of a whirlwind of emotions with lots of highs and lows lately. My highs are super high – I love our new house, even though it is mostly just an obstacle course of boxes at the moment. My lows are pretty low – I really miss my old job. The new one is fine, it just doesn’t hold a candle to where I was before.

I am trying to stay positive, to reframe and acknowledge all of the good things I have going for me while giving time and space to feelings like sadness, anger, and frustration. It’s tricky to allow for negative feelings and keep the anxieties at bay, at least for me.

Two nights ago, [REDACTED] and I were in the midst of our move. We had just finished loading up our rental van with the last few boxes from our old apartment and were on the way home – to our new house! [REDACTED] was driving the van, and I drove separately in our little hatchback.

About two blocks from the old apartment, traffic and lights didn’t time out well and I lost sight of [REDACTED] and the van. No big deal, we were headed to the same place, and the new house was just 15 minutes away.

Here is a little glimpse into the world of anxiety – my world, anyways.

As I drove through the snowy roads lined with picturesque trees and cozy little houses, my mind started to fill with dreadful “what-ifs.”

What if [REDACTED] skidded on a patch of ice and got into an accident? Or another driver on the road couldn’t stop and hit him? What if he was injured? What if he died?

What if [REDACTED] was gone and I had to live in our new home by myself? What if I had to live on my own without him? What if I had to go through life without him?

What if I called him to make sure that he was ok, and while searching for his phone he lost control of the wheel, and the van drifted over into oncoming traffic?

Half-way home, my eyes were starting to tear up. I could feel my heart pounding fast and hard in my chest. The worst things could happen in just fifteen minutes or less, and what if they did? What if those nightmares came true?

I took a deep breath, filled with all of my fears, and let it go.

[READACTED] is a good driver. He grew up driving out to see his grandparents on old dirt roads and farmland. He is accustomed to slick ice and maneuvering large vehicles. He is good at keeping calm in stressful situations.

I gripped my steering wheel firmly in both hands.

I would drive carefully over the ice patches, and think of the best what-ifs I could until I reached the doorstep of our new home. I would be greeted by our dog, her amber-yellow eyes and feverishly wagging tail. Maybe an insistent cat would make herself known with a yowl of annoyance over dinner being late.

Together, [REDACTED] and I would unload our belongings and settle them into whatever empty floor space we could find, adding to the clutter of boxes to unpack in our new home.

Above is said clutter of boxes (this isn’t even all of it!) I really need to look into minimalism…

I filled my head with hopes and plans for the near future, putting some of the tools I’ve learned in therapy to work to help battle the monsters my synapses seem to conjure up so easily.

When I got home, I unloaded the car and waited (anxiously) for [REDACTED] to arrive. I unpacked a few boxes, and watched for the rental van headlights down the road.

They did, and [REDACTED] was behind the wheel, safe and sound. We unloaded the van, returned it to the rental facility, and grabbed a fast-food dinner on the way home.

Before the move, my therapist encouraged me to recast my anxiety, not as a monster, but as something that is meant to protect me. I have a hard time doing that.

I think that on the other end of anxiety is probably a deep desire to be prepared, and to know what the future holds.

The future is unpredictable, so how do you prepare for that?

If you had told me five months ago that I would be buying a house, I would have laughed it off, but here we are!

For now, I am focused on taking deep breaths. Acknowledging and allowing myself to feel sadness, to feel nervous, to feel frustration, and balancing those feelings with what I feel is bringing me strength.

I don’t like this job as much as my last job, and I have a house that I really love.

I miss my friends, and I have people here who I am getting to know, and who I really like.

It’s cold! And it is the same temperature here as where we used to live, so suck it up buttercup!

Our ~almost~ settled-in living room! (see the bedframe in the back that still need to be moved upstairs?)
It’s a work in progress.

One last thing, before I get back to my real work (my job).

Last night I was overwhelmed by the anxiety that buying a house here meant that I would never get to go back to where we used to be.

What if we never go back and I never get to have my old job, my old friends, my old hometown again?

In the midst of this storm of “what-ifs,” [REDACTED] reminded me: law school is just three years.

Yes, we bought a house, but in three years we might decide to stay, or we might decide to sell the house, or we might decide to rent the house.

It is good to be reminded. What “might” happen isn’t what “will” happen.

“Might” feels much better than “What-If.”

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