Alison's Insights

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

How Overthinking Leads to Underserving

When a slight veil of coronavirus restriction lifted, my husband received notice that he could return to work. While the excitement for that bit of freedom was tangible, I did feel just a slight tingle of fear. Yet I carried on and cheered for the truth that this pandemic is just our right now and not our forever.  

That morning of his first day back, I drove him to the front door. Before he stepped out of the car, I looked him straight in the eye, and said, “You’re everything I have. Please take care of yourself. Mask up. Stay a healthy distance. Wash your hands. Do whatever necessary so when I come back here, you’re as healthy as you are now.” He smiled, kissed my cheek, and said, “Stop overthinking.”

As I watched him walk away, the mental floodgates opened, and questions flew in like a tidal wave.

  • What if he gets sick?
  • What hospital will take him?
  • Can I go inside the hospital?
  • Does he have his insurance card?
  • How do I handle him being in the hospital and I can’t be there?
  • Who will call me every two minutes with an update about his breathing?
  • Will he have a TV in his room?  
  • What if he’s too weak to hold a remote control?
  • What about reaching the “call the nurse” button?
  • Can I call him?
  • What about his phone?
  • Can he charge that somewhere? 
  • Will he have Wi-Fi?
  • What if he something awful happens and I’m not there to hold his hand?
  • Who will hold my hand?
  • Will the one woman who knows me better than myself fly to my side and hold mine?
  • What if he dies?
  • How would I ever survive that?
  • Where would I live?
  • How could I sell that house we shared? 
  • What will I do with all those TVs?
  • What’s in the basement?
  • Should I take a video of everything down there? 
  • How long do those iPhone videos last?
  • Are there companies that preserve them?

Yep, all that (and more) spun through my head before I moved through the first intersection on my way home. 

overthinking-3

This is what the mind looks like when fear strikes a recovering overthinker. I’m a racehorse charging out of the gate. One minor thought propels me into some twisted flowchart where I end up feeling helpless no matter what turn I take.  

Even after 18 years of continuous recovery from unhealthy behaviors that I believe protected me from unwelcome emotions, I can easily teeter on the edge of insanity if I don’t catch overthinking before that overtakes me.  

This is why a wide support circle is critical for people like me. I know any one of my beloved trusted friends will understand when I start a phone call with, “Well, you won’t believe where my head is at right now.” After shared laughter for the predictability of my predicament, I pour out my collection of thoughts into the loving hands of those who keep me sane. Per usual, an offer of gentle acknowledgment for my harried travel from point “A” to point “Z” is followed by the reminder that my day is always better served when I keep my head where my feet are.

Immediately I felt better. Coronavirus can’t keep me from staying in my lane of recovery. Help is always available even if that’s not in-person. I’m glad for the many years of proven experience to know how that works.

Of course, later that day, when I retrieved my husband, I found him just fine.

My life is so much easier when I remember that overthinking anything is the gateway to underserving me.

A Moment to Breathe

If you relate to what you just read, take a deep breath. The overthinking connection often brings about a sense of thrill yet also infuriation. We’re thrilled by the idea that we can get ahead of what might feel awful and yet infuriated because we know we can’t outsmart the future. That’s what overthinking is all about. We believe if we create enough scenarios we’ll better manage whatever emotion arises. However, that rarely works. All that does is create more self-imposed chaos and anxiety. The only way we can truly prepare for what’s coming is by taking better care of ourselves today. Breathe that in. Take another deep breath and consider what you’re thinking about right now. How long have you had that thought? A few minutes? A few hours? A few days? Have you considered sharing your thoughts with someone you trust? Take a deep breath and then give yourself the gift of alternative insight. Call someone. That’s the surest way to overserve your soul and underserve your fear. 

I always love your feedback! Free to share your thoughts below or via your preferred social media site.

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2 thoughts on “How Overthinking Leads to Underserving

  1. Sarah Stephenson on said:

    Thanks Alison.
    Just needed this today.

  2. Mary Be on said:

    I love this: “my day is always better served when I keep my head where my feet are.” This should be a meme!

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