Perpetually Prepping for Doomsday Isn’t a Great Use of Energy

person wearing a gas mask
Image by Konstantin Stepanov / CC BY

I started watching a new show while Justin was off in Dallas for the weekend, one of the earliest trips he made there, interviewing for a new position. It was a show that had popped up in his Netflix queue as “recommended.” Mostly, I think, because I sometimes watch shows under his user profile instead of remembering to flip it over to mine.

In my defense, Hulu thinks we’re the same person. So his Hulu recommendations make absolutely no sense for him — especially as I tend to watch it a lot more than he does.

And I’ll be honest here: I like some garbage TV. My taste is pretty questionable.

When it comes to watching TV as a medium, I’m motivated primarily by morbid curiosity, so I’m particularly drawn to people who live differently than I do. “Reality” TV, especially niche shows. Or talk shows where people scream at each other and throw things.

I probably would have been one of the unwashed masses enjoying bread and circus in Ancient Rome.

Whatever. I am what I am.

Anyway, this new (-to-me) show was called Doomsday Preppers. For those of you who haven’t watched it, essentially it’s a documentary-style series originally produced by the National Geographic Channel where they feature various people who identify as a preppers. Preppers are folks who believe that a certain huge disaster is going to hit the world any day now, and so they throw considerable resources (time, money, energy, etc.) into proactively preparing for them.

What disaster? Well, that depends on the person. Some preppers on the show are getting ready for a global economic crisis. Others fear nuclear plants being hijacked by terrorists and being used as weapons.  Dirty bombs. Massive earthquakes. Supervulcano eruptions. Hurricanes. Climate change and flooding. Food shortages. Pandemic.

A lot of the preparation is similar in any event. People need steady food and water sources. A way to secure their shelters from outsiders who would loot them (this usually involves weapons and some kind of security system).

Some of the weather-based disasters require different shelters. But a lot of it is similar episode to episode.

At the end of the show, the featured preppers are rated on how well they’ve prepared for it and given an estimated survival time. The disaster is also assessed for how likely it is to happen.

I Started Watching the Show Out of Morbid Curiosity

Anyway, as I’m not a prepper and haven’t known anyone who is (aside from perhaps my mother, who stockpiled food and water in the house basement because she was worried about Y2K, but this was relatively minor compared to what’s featured on Doomsday Preppers), the show is a morbid curiosity gold mine.

Especially since these people are so different than me, y’know?

…or at least I thought they were.

But I Might Be a Prepper, Too — an Emotional One

Because I realized as I watched more episodes that while I’m not trying to fend off against some wildly improbably disaster scenario in the literal sense, I’ve done so figuratively. And especially emotionally.

My brain is great at coming up with awful scenarios. Telling me that my partner of eight years will one day wake up and no longer love me, despite all the evidence to the contrary that our relationship is strong and has been for some time.

That he’ll turn into a different version of himself, one that would kick me out and leave me without even a temporary place to live and move in a different person immediately, who would start wearing my clothes, using my things, living my life.

Instead of the person that I know who would make sure I had a place to stay while we figured things out, even if it were in the basement on the couch.

And who wouldn’t give away things that don’t belong to him to some new person.

I mean… it’s ridiculous. It’s an emotional disaster situation that makes no freaking sense.

I’ve seen how he treats people he despises, people who have wronged him, people he frankly can’t stand. He doesn’t even do the things I imagine him doing to me to them.

And yet… my brain weasels are really good with coming up with them. At catastrophizing. And I’ll find myself swallowed in the task of forming contingency plans. Telling myself, “Well, if he does [ridiculous thing he’d never do, even on his worst day], then I can do THIS.” Over and over again. Spending far more time and emotional energy than the task deserves.

Trusting Yourself to Deal With It When It Comes

One evening, I find myself turning off the show. As fun as it’s been to watch, it’s occurred to me that there comes a point where you stop prepping for doomsday, and you just trust yourself that you will be able to deal with it when it comes.

Or else you’ll go out fast on the first wave. Probably instantly and more or less painlessly.

In any event, it’s not worth trading your future spending every waking hour planning for something that technically might happen but probably never will.

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My new book is out!

Dealing with Difficult Metamours, the first book devoted solely to metamour relationships, full of strategies to help you get along better with your partners’ other partner(s).

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