My kind and beautiful therapist introduced me to this idea years ago, when I was trying to figure out the source of my weird, nameless, constant anxieties.

I will give you a simple example. Happily married to my loving and good Brazilian husband, I would still (for the first years that we were together) wake up in a panic that we were about to get divorced and ruin each other's lives. Why would I worry about such a thing? Were we fighting? No. Had he threatened to leave me? No. Was I lying to him about something? No. Was doom on the horizon? No — not it any way whatsoever. (Except during my irrational middle-of-the-night episodes of panic.)

So I went in to see my therapist for a tune-up. (You gotta do this every once in a while, when things get extra special freaky.) And she introduced me to this simple idea — that the things we fear most are often the things that have already happened to us. She updated me on this reality: I had already GOTTEN divorced. Many years earlier, in fact. And it was, indeed, the worst thing I'd ever been through. But it was over. Every single thing about it was over — except for my residual fear that I might get divorced. But the divorce had already happened! So I was panicking over something that was totally finished, and terribly unlikely to occur again. Which is sort of like leaving the dentist's office after getting a your wisdom teeth pulled, and then lying awake in dread for months to come, worried that you might have to get you wisdom teeth pulled. It's the one thing you DON'T have to worry about, because it's behind you. Yet we so often carry our worries forward. And like characters in some odd time-bending science fiction tale, we spend our lives trying to prevent the past from happening.

Because here's the thing — we are really slow, as a species, to catching on sometimes that the past is past. And since there is no sense of time in the human subconscious, there is part of us that doesn't always know, when it comes to certain dark traumas: IT'S FINISHED. Sometimes you have to talk to yourself about that fact (gently, lovingly) and explain to yourself the reality of the timeline. Did it already happen to you? Yes. Did you already survive it? Yes. Then try to let yourself go forth in peace. It's over. It sometimes takes so much convincing for us to believe this, but whatever you're most afraid of…? Chances are, it's over.

Try to believe it,


via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall