This will probably sound like crazy talk, but there is something insanely liberating about "the worst thing that could happen." We spend years, sometimes our whole lives, fretting about an imaginary future. We agonize, telling ourselves that if this worst case scenario happens we won't be able to handle it. Everything will be terrible and unbearable. Then, in spite of all our preliminary agonizing (or maybe because of it), it happens, the very bad thing. Some of mine were death of loved ones, cancer, disability, and financial ruin. And yes, my eating disorder threw weight gain right into the Very Bad Things playlist. It's been my experience that when the terrible worst thing actually unfolds - a parent dies, we're going to lose the house, I have cancer, I can't walk, I can't work. Yes, it's horrible. The terror is legitimate, but it's amazing what doesn't change. The sun still comes up. The dog still loves you. Friends still make you laugh. Even in the midst of what we thought would be ruinous calamity, we get the mail, and buy groceries, and brush our teeth, and it's all so...ok.
That's where it gets interesting. If the worst has happened and we're still watching TV and doing the dishes like any other day, what is there left to fear really? It's a perspective we wouldn't have had otherwise. My years-long mental buildup of cancer, death, loss, and crisis had been soooo much worse than when it really happened and was kind of boring. Unpleasant, sure. Difficult, painful, but bizarrely manageable. There was a sense that, if I can handle this, I can handle anything. It's like we've leveled up or gained a super power. What is there left to worry about? Now, sure, at 2:00am my brain can still come up with some really creative fears to toss and turn over, but there's also a sense that whatever happens, I'll deal with it and be ok. That's new. It wasn't there when my fears were all in my head. I had to experience a few.
You're absolutely right. Very insightful post, thanks for sharing.