Panic is a type of worry…it is like worry on steroids.
Breathe. You’d be surprised what breathing can do for you. There is a reason why breathing is so important in yoga. When you breathe you are able to elongate your stretch and go deeper than before. When running, if you feel yourself getting really tired and begin to panic, your breathing gets way off. If you calm down and don’t panic and begin to take deeper breaths and maybe even slow down for a little bit…you are able to recover and keep going. When mountain biking, if you panic you can end up crashing or flipping over your handlebars. You can really end up hurting yourself maybe even in a life changing way. If you are able to stay calm and breathe you will find you can do more than you think you can.
There are 2 instances within the past few years where panic was a breath away. When my husband told me he was leaving and when my Dad ended up in the hospital.
I came home from work and put myself in the best mood possible. The night before, my husband had come home from a week of traveling. It was nice to not walk on egg shells for a few days and get a little relief from the battle I had been fighting for months. We went to dinner and I smiled big. He looked as he did for the past few months…he looked out. It was a one sided battle and I was losing. I’m sure he spent all dinner contemplating how he was going to bring it up. Little did I know…this was the last supper. We got home and got settled and he asked me to sit down on the couch beside him. He told me he wanted a divorce. I begged and pleaded with him. “Please don’t do this. Let’s go to counseling. I can see this working.” He asked me, “what do you see?” I responded, “I see us laying everything out on the table and working through it. I know this can work!” He told me, “I can see it working too…I just don’t want it to.” He told me his Mom was flying in and they were driving 4 states away to where she lived the next day. My breathing began to increase and sweat began to approach my pores. By the end of the conversation he told me, “Even if I want this to work I have to leave for a while.” Breathe.
It was a normal Sunday in which I was supposed to go and buy a new couch and run 20 miles, which was my furthest run up to that point in preparation for my marathon that was just weeks away. The week leading up to this Sunday my Dad had been in and out of care clinics and the hospital with something that appeared to be a bad cold or the flu. The doctors kept sending him home even though he continued to have a fever off and on and a really bad headache throughout the week. My Mom texted all of us that morning and told us that my Dad had pneumonia in both lungs and they were going to be taking him to the ICU. I remained calm and didn’t change any of my plans at that time. I had asked if I should come home immediately and I didn’t get a sense of urgency. No one in my family has really ever been in the hospital. I cannot recall any of us staying overnight for anything. So I didn’t grasp what all of this really meant.
I contacted my boss and made him aware of the circumstance and made arrangements to go home that day at some point and miss work the next day. Then my Mom texted us a little while later and said, “Dad is worse than we all thought.” My eyes widened, my pulse began to race and my heart took cover. I immediately hit the floor and began to weep. I cried from so deep inside it hurt. My body fell lame and I just collapsed there. I did not know this place existed within me. At least I didn’t know this place existed a few years ago. I have only cried from this place on a few occasions…on a car ride I took alone before my husband left and his Mom came for a visit, after my husband left and this occasion with my Dad. I began to text like a wild woman. I told my Mom I was coming home. This was the first time the 3 hour drive was a huge problem. I realized just how far away I really was. A little while later my Mom texted us, “Dad is preparing himself for the worst. He feels he may be going on the respirator soon. I say if you are wanting to say anything to him now is a good time before they put tubes in him and he can’t talk.” Things got super real after that text.
I called my Mom and she put me on speaker phone…I tried so hard to choke back the tears and make silly jokes but this time was different from any other crisis situation my family has ever been in. I know my Dad was staying strong over the phone and was making light-hearted jokes to ease the tension. What do you say to someone that you may never talk to again? I called my brother after we were done and told him he should call my Dad too. It’s hard to know what is important when things are happening so fast and the outcome is not in sight. I quickly packed my things and finished making additional arrangements. I got in the car and began to drive. Breathe.
In both instances there was a common place you could find me…on my knees with my face on the ground. I knew both situations were out of my control. I knew the only thing I could do. I asked God to save the life of my marriage and I asked Him to save my Dad’s life. He granted one and I’m so glad He didn’t grant the other.
We are told not to worry and to cast our burdens on Him. Breathe. Pray. Repeat.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 NIV