I’m Terrified for You, But I Support You
Updated: Apr 7, 2022
Wow, this last week has gone by in a blur. It feels like yesterday was Monday and I was thinking, “Great, I’ve got a solid 5 days to get everything done for my aid trip to Poland.” How is it already Friday and I feel like I have nothing done? But at the same time, so much has solidified and come together with my planning and prep. Such a contradiction. I kind of feel like my entire trip is full of contradiction.
None of my family is excited about my aid trip to Poland. I’ve been preparing for this Poland trip for two weeks now, which admittedly is no time at all. My plans and goals for the trip have gone from wishy-washy details two weeks ago to very solid plans with names and contact info of organizations and people I will be meeting. It’s really a night and day difference. One thing that hasn’t changed, well, hasn’t changed much, is how my family feels.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. Most of our family, while they certainly don’t agree with my decision to go and help in Poland, have come around to the idea of supporting me … at least outwardly. As Fat Papa likes to say, “I’m absolutely terrified for you, but I support you all the way.” Now, this is a BIG change from how he was feeling two weeks ago. But what has NOT changed is the overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety Fat Papa, Gigi, my fairy-mother-in-law and others are feeling.
Breath in, breath out … Everything is going to be okay.
It is times like these that I am really glad Fat Papa and I both see a therapist for 1-on-1 counseling as well as a couple's therapist. I think without therapy, these last two weeks would not have gone as well as they have. Without therapy, I think Fat Papa’s and my communication could have broken down completely.
Because Fat Papa and I are opposites in so many ways yet complement each other almost perfectly. I’m a risk taker while he is cautious and plotting. Fat Papa is grounded and steadfast while I am flighty, always jumping from one thing to the … oh something shiny! I’m an optimist, he’s a pessimist. I wear my heart on my sleeve, he bottles everything up inside. He is the Yin to my Yang.
However, where our opposite perspective really hurts rather than benefits us is in communication. Because Fat Papa is so consumed with worry, doubt, and fear, he tends to focus on the negatives of a plan. Before he can show the smallest amount of satisfaction with an idea, he first must tear it apart, analyze it from every probable angle, and throw every improbable (sometimes impossible) scenario at it and then … maybe … he will feel comfortable being less anxious about whatever it is I’m planning.
You can imagine then all the … let’s politely call it constructive criticism … Fat Papa had when I announced that I wanted to do aid work in Poland. Wow, we had some bumpy roads to drive over before we could get to a smooth highway with that announcement.
The good thing was that after discussing my plans, why I wanted to go, and what my goals were, Fat Papa was able to see that there was no changing my mind. So, he was no longer in control. which meant he could either continue to pour his negative thoughts and lack of confidence into me, or he could be responsible for his own emotions, work through them, and support me even without agreeing with me.
This was a MAJOR breakthrough for us.
By letting go of the control, Fat Papa was able to start looking at my trip to Poland kind of like a boat ride. Like a boat ride, a cruise around the Bay, if you will, Fat Papa has no control over where our cruise is going. He isn’t the captain, he isn’t steering the boat, he doesn’t control the currents. Will he still worry about what happens if the boat capsizes, or Itsy Bitsy falling overboard, or if a seagull is going to poop on his head? Sure, absolutely, that is a defining characteristic of Fat Papa’s personality (as well as both of our mothers’ personalities).
Despite these fears, once Fat Papa realizes he is not in control of a situation, like a boat ride, he is able to push most of his fear and anxiety to a quiet spot of his brain, allowing him to enjoy, or at least be less anxious, about his situation. So having embraced the fact that I was going to be traveling alone, without support, without him there to help, Fat Papa let go and accepted that I was taking charge and would indeed be in charge.
Suddenly, this new perspective of “I’m terrified, but I support you” made him see our mothers’ fear in a whole new light. Now, he was defending me to them. He was telling them how much planning and care I was taking with this trip. Fat Papa was telling our mothers that everything was going to be okay and that I am in control and have everything handled.
The Confidence is Just an Act … I'm Scared Too
For the first time, Fat Papa realized what it was like for me to be surrounded by nervous, anxious people who allowed fear to dictate their behavior. Because Fat Papa had come to terms with his feelings about my trip to Poland, he was able to move past the fear and into support. Does he agree with my decision? HELL NO! But does he love, respect, and support me no matter what? HELL DUCKING YES!