When you live in a volatile environment for long periods of time, your brain rewires itself to foresee possible attacks. It is a defense mechanism. You begin to ask yourself; What could set off a negative reaction? How can I avoid this outcome? If it does happen what can I do to diffuse the situation? If I can't diffuse it, how can I escape it? This thought pattern becomes a habit. New synapsis are built that override your usual thinking patterns. Your whole consciousness becomes ruled by these cyclical and anxiety increasing thoughts. You literally live in a world of fear. This pattern of thinking will begin to control all aspects of your life. You will be concerned about conflicts and possible emotional attacks in all situations, not just the situation in which they normally arise.
Up until yesterday, when I went anywhere I would wonder if my ex or his family would be there. What might they say to me? How will I respond in a manner that won't make things worse but still enforce my boundaries? What will I do if they ignore my boundaries? I haven't had many run ins with my ex or his family, and when I have other than being slightly awkward, nothing really negative has happened. However, it takes a long time for those habitual thinking patterns to fade...or so I thought.
Yesterday at work, I had some quiet time. My duties were done, the floor was clean and there were no customers. So I had time to think. I have two really cool things I want to do on Sunday, one is low key and would allow me to create music. The other is big and loud and fun, but has the risk of my ex being there as well. I was trying to figure out how it might be if he showed up... How would we slip away? Would I ask the kids if they wanted to stay either way? Would I not tell them anything until we left and then talk to them? What if he saw us and left? Would we be able to shake off that yucky anxious feeling and continue? Would he or someone else make a comment, start a conflict?
Suddenly this really fun opportunity became a real source of anxiety for me. That's when I realized,
this should be fun. My fear is clouding over joyous occasions. I should be looking forward to these things, not stressing over them. No matter how much I preplan my response, it's not going to change a damn thing, so I might as well deal with it as it comes, if it comes. This is not the first time I have had this conversation with myself. However, I know I overrode my old habitual thinking pattern because I got that wonderful feeling of peace and well being that only comes from endorphins being released when a new synapsis is formed, or as some people call it the "ah ha" moment.
So I still haven't made my decision yet. I might not make it until the day before. Maybe I can arrange it so I can do both. We'll see. I'm not going to stress over it.