Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Brace For Impact

warning sign

Everything is happening too fast. I need to act quickly. What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to say? What’s going to happen? What if I don’t know how to handle what comes next? What if I don’t react fast enough? How am I going to be judged? Am I going to be seen as a failure?

No time to think. Brace for impact.

For years that state of panic was not experienced occasionally, but daily.

Even before my feet would touch the floor I was already in a state of pure desperation after silently interrogating myself.  What did I do or say last night? How much did I drink? Did I eat at all?  Is my husband mad at me? Is anyone mad at me? Am I in any sort of trouble? What tracks do I need to cover? Am I late for an appointment? Where’s my purse? Where’s my phone? Who can help me piece together yesterday without knowing I can’t?

My heart would race. My hands would shake. I feared what would happen next was out of my control. I braced for impact.

The unyielding grip I had on my life got tighter and tighter until the day I walked through the gateway of addiction recovery.

A few very kind and generous people introduced themselves as having once sat in the same jump seat I’d just unbuckled myself from. As their words slowly penetrated, I found myself actually willing to believe I just might be OK if I loosened up on my fear-based, relentless, need-to-control-everything, grip on life.

I no longer felt the demand to brace for impact because my rescue team had just arrived.

Now, even after many years of addiction recovery meetings, private talks with like-minded people and quiet moments of internal investigation, I can still find myself in moments of panic. I’m human. I have feelings and at times fear is one of them.  The difference today is, fear does not paralyze me. I’m not waiting for the red light to suddenly flash indicating the need to buckle my seatbelt and prepare for a bumpy ride.

I’ve learned my insatiable need to control only clouded my vision. I’d lose focus on what was happening in that moment. I didn’t attend to the immediate because I’d be mentally living in the future.

When I feel anxious I look at my feet.  That quick glance reminds me where my focus needs to be.  What, if anything, can I do in this moment to benefit the situation and not make matters worse?  I pause, breathe and consider my options.  Sometimes the option is to do nothing.  Other times the option is to get help.  Always the right option becomes clear only after taking that moment to breathe.

I finally found the way to brace for impact. I can let go of the outcome trusting the fact I’ve been in training all along.


Are you tightly gripping some aspect of your life?  Are you feeling numb with anticipation and fear of the unknown?  Try taking a slow deep breath.  Concentrating on slowing your breath down allows your brain to focus elsewhere.  If you need further guidance, please visit my friend Tommy Rosen’s website   He’s a master at teaching healthy breathing practices.  After experiencing how this helps you feel balanced, I’d love for you to come back and share with my readers about your transition. 

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One thought on “Brace For Impact

  1. Claudia Donohue on said:

    As usual, I loved it. So real & honest. Exactly how I lived my life for all too long. Gosh, I wonder how many mornings I awoke with that same fear gripping dread? Too many to count! Not anymore, thank God.

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