Caught Off Guard

Have you ever had someone you trusted catch you off guard with something they’ve said or done and your heart sinks? If so you’ve probably been caught by surprise and then fear. The surprise first and the fear second but it feels like it’s instantaneous. It’s a disturbing feeling, one that I never attached a name to until recently.

Joyful surprises are a good thing–we love them. Maybe your child picks you a bouquet of dandelions or a friend you haven’t heard from in a long time calls just to say hi. Maybe you get a compliment from a friend and it feels great. These are joyful moments.

Surprise and then fear may come in the form of an inappropriate remark directed at you from a relationship partner or a date shows up hours later than planned, shows up intoxicated, or not at all. Maybe a trusted friend says something untrue about you to others and you don’t understand why it was said and especially not by that particular person.

It could be anything and it may not even come from a person. Not too long ago I was surprised by my bedroom smoke alarm going off in the middle of the night not one night but two nights in a row. There was no fire but the first alarm triggered the rest of the alarms to go off throughout the house and I was definitely caught off guard. I felt the surprise and fear pretty much at the same time. After that second night I knew for sure it was time to change the batteries…

I’ve been told that once you acknowledge that surprise and fear can exist together, you’ll know what you’re dealing with the next time you get that sinking feeling.

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