It’s Only After You’re Safe That You Fall Apart

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I’ve never been one for panicking. When a crisis comes, I go into problem-solving mode.

Okay, I might sulk a little while I’m problem-solving. It’s almost a janky form of mindfulness, nonjudgmental acknowledgement of my feelings, some of them anyway. I curse the fact that I have to deal with the situation while I consider my options.

But I don’t panic. Even in a life-threatening situation. I don’t panic.

Not then.

No, it’s only after the immediate danger is over that I start to panic. It’s only after I’m safe that I fall apart.

It’s only once I’m no longer freezing to death and the lights are back on and I’m cleaning up all the messes that I couldn’t see in the dark that I finally start to feel the panic of an entire week. It nearly pulls me under.

“I think I’m gonna be in a bad mood for a while. I think that’s just what is gonna happen,” I say to a friend.

“I think anyone would be,” she replies.

As my partner and I lie down to sleep, I ask if he can do me a favor.

“Of course,” he says. “Anything.” We’ve been through misery this week. Have been staying strong for one another as much as for ourselves. He’s been dropping, too. Loves to feel useful (as do I).

I tell him my mind is racing, and I don’t know how I’m going to get to sleep, even though I’ve barely slept all week. “Could you reassure me about the situation? Like I’m a child. I need to believe someone has all the answers right now. That everything will be okay, even if it’s going to be weird for a while.”

He laughs. Smiles. Does it. Accidentally swears for emphasis. Apologizes for swearing in front of a child.

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