Earlier this year I watched a Dr. Oz segment where a psychiatrist suggested coping techniques for those of us who struggle with immediately jumping to Worst Case Scenario explanations. Occasionally I go there too soon, without justified reason and rile myself up unnecessarily. The psychiatrist offered this advice: instead of assuming the worst, think the opposite; assume just as extreme in the best case scenario. For instance, if I haven’t talked to my sister on the phone in a day, don’t assume she crashed her car into a snowy ditch on the roads of Maine; instead, assume she won the lottery and jetted off to Europe real quick (without telling me?!).
This morning my husband drove my daughter to school and forgot his cell phone. Actually, I’ll clarify to say he deliberately chose not to bring it because when my teenage son suggested he bring it, my husband retaliated that he was only traveling a mile away.
It’s an hour later and my husband isn’t home yet. Where can he be? Logically I begin: Maybe he ran into a friend and got into a long conversation about the electoral college? Maybe he decided to grab some bagels on the way home? Only both of those things would still have had him home by now. I review the morning in my head. My husband had mentioned he didn’t feel so great; a little nauseated. He said maybe some fresh air would help. Perhaps he’s standing on a corner deep breathing into his asshole? (His words, not mine.) These are the coherent scenarios I discount immediately.
Of course, it seems absurd to ponder he had a heart attack; he’s a young healthy guy. Yet, I’m staring at the phone waiting for a strange number to reveal itself on the caller ID and it might be a Lieutenant Smith from the Fort Lee police telling me they found my name and number in my husband’s wallet in case of emergency. I hope he moved that card into his new wallet otherwise it’ll be hours before they find me.
My son jokes he’s having a secret affair. I laugh, thinking in the old days my jealous rage would have instantly gone in the cheating direction, but that’s not as scary as dead. Every door slam down the hall makes me crane my neck; my stomach is in a knot. Seriously where is he? I try the extreme good scenarios: maybe he went grocery shopping on his own… or … Nothing. My brain is stuck on dead.
He finally walks in an hour later, hair disheveled (or sexed up) if he’d been sleeping.
“Where have you been?” I ask.
“I just sat in the car in the garage for a few minutes. I told you I didn’t feel good,” he says. He’s looking at me like I’m the asshole.
“You could have come upstairs to sleep,” I say and the lump travels from my stomach to my throat and I burst into tears. “You were missing for over an hour. I was so worried.”
“Sorry,” he says and it doesn’t make me feel any better knowing I’m the type of wife from which a husband has to hide in the car.
Maybe this incident will serve as future evidence to remind me not to jump to worst case scenario; better to assume your husband is being slightly inconsiderate. Only he will plead not guilty, insisting it was not his intention to worry me, and contending he is just the illiterate version of time; the direct opposite of me, the daughter of “the Nazi of time,” who can guess the time accurately within five minutes any time of day.