When Worrying, Remember You Don’t Get Credit for Time Served

a jail cell with the focus on the bars
Image by Neil Conway / CC BY

I’ll let you in on a little secret: There are times when no matter what you do, an issue is going to be ambiguous. You’re not necessarily going to get clarity or answers that satisfy you completely.

Maybe you’re worried that your partner doesn’t find you attractive anymore. And maybe you’ll find yourself embarking on a fact-finding mission. Thinking about the times when you had sex with them (if you did recently). Replaying the encounters in your mind, analyzing them. Did they seem to have a good time? What’s the evidence for and against?

Are you having sex with them more frequently or less? Or not at all?

Is there another innocent reason why things have changed, if they have, in a different direction?

Is there one they gave you (if you asked them)? Did it ring true? Was it consistent with their actions and their other words?

Maybe you’ll find yourself lost in a sea of questions, all of them unanswered. And whose temporary answers feel more like guesses. Subject to error. Bobbing in the sea of your bias. Your fear. Your insecurities.

You’re incredibly worried about this one thing being true. But you have no way to tell — for certain — whether or not it is.

And when you get to this point, there are two possibilities:

Either the thing you fear is untrue — and all you’re doing is causing yourself unnecessary stress by worrying about it. And potentially annoying your partner and/or causing strife when you repeatedly share it.

Or the thing you fear is true – and will not be changed by worrying about it.

You Don’t Get Credit for Time Served

People rarely feel consoled later when they find out that something unpleasant they worried about is actually true. They are rarely comforted by the fact that they worried about it for a long time.

The realization that it’s true is just as fresh and raw as it was when it was only a possibility. Something you feared in theory. The pain is not mitigated by your prior suspicion.

You do not get credit for time served.

And when you worry about it for a long time, you suffer this state over and over again without ever knowing if it’s a senseless, unfounded worry.

So whenever a worry comes to a crisis point, after I’ve had all the conversations I can, looked at the situation from every available angle, and I still come up short, I am left with one more thing to do: I remind myself that I don’t get credit for time served.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of this over and over again. But with enough repetition, it helps.

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Books by Page Turner:

Dealing with Difficult Metamours

A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching

Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory 

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