When the Worst Thing Happens

I wrote a blog about childhood warnings and it brought to mind how we spend our lives imagining “the worst thing ever.”

Although, there are those things I try very hard not to imagine. Such as anything happening to my children. If I let those fears enter my mind I’m paralyzed and my children would never have been allowed to leave the house.

Many years ago I attended a great workshop on depression and anxiety by Dr. David Burns https://feelinggood.com.  He advocated that as a therapist we help our patients confront their fears in a safe environment. He told several very entertaining stories about how he had done this, usually in a very silly way, and people had realized that they could survive their imagined unsurvivable events.

And then it happened to me. You know that dream? The one where you are at school, but you are in your pajamas? Or worse yet, your underwear?

It was a bad, long, stressful day. I was dealing with a disobedient and difficult adolescent son, had to run to Roseville to do a slew of errands, including the dreaded and exhausting Costco run for the veterinary clinic, zip back home, unpack and zip back down for music lessons and aqua aerobics.

Now, I usually go to Aqua class in our own tiny town, at our own tiny pool. But it was closed for repairs so our class was rescheduled to the big pool in town. The one with multiple pools and multiple things going on. And bleachers.

On autopilot I unpacked the huge packages of paper towels and toilet paper, garbage bags and bleach, ran into the house, shouted for my son to get his guitar as we didn’t have much time, grabbed my swimming suit and towel, rushed into the bathroom to pee and threw on my clothes over my suit and drove back to town. Barely slowing to extract my son at the music store, I rushed to swim class. I couldn’t find a parking space, had to park in the far parking lot, ran to class, stopped at the fence next to the pool where folks left their belongings (which also happened to be in front of the bleachers where handsome young fathers sat while their toddlers learned to swim.) I shed my clothes, threw everything in a heap and got in the pool.

The class felt good. The cool water, the routine, my pulse went down, my head cleared and I enjoyed the hour of class. When it was over I climbed out, went over to my pile of clothes and wrapped my towel around me. No need to change until I went home and showered. I picked up my son and drove home.

It wasn’t until we were parked in front of the garage, getting out of the car that my son asked…

“Why did you go to swim class in your underwear?”

“What are you talking about?”

He pointed. “Your underwear.” Then he looked away.

I looked down. Sure enough, although I had put the top of my suit on (one of those blouse type things), in my haste to change and get to the next event on time, I had never put on the bottoms. I was indeed wearing my old lady, white cotton, transparent when wet, underwear.

I cried. I called my husband and told him we were moving to Colorado. I lamented that I would have to give up my beloved aqua aerobics because I could never show my face again. I cursed the women in the class for not pointing out my major error…before I paraded in front of the bleachers.

But the reality of the situation was…no one in my town or class ever said a word. I survived this nightmare and now, after fifteen years, I can even laugh about it.

A little, dry, strained laugh. But it is a laugh.