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3 a.m. Anxiety Attack

3:15 a.m.

I told myself this week that driving the 221 miles to Tulsa and back was no sweat, and yet I laid in bed, restless. I dreaded the trip.

I flipped from one side, then to the other. I stared into the darkness. I counted each breath. Inhale one, exhale two.

My brain refused to stick with it. All my mind wanted was to imagine the “what ifs”. If each was a brick, I could have built a tower to heaven.

What if the car breaks down? What if there is no cell phone coverage? What if I have to drive on the two lane roads at night? What if I hit a deer? What if I did not go at all? No idea, however preposterous, was off limits that night.

Me, looking like a deer in headlights, on an overnight train in India.

And the more I told myself that the trip to Oklahoma was no big deal - hadn’t I taken the train across India alone? - the more worked up I became.

I glanced at the clock on my nightstand. It flashed 5 a.m. Morning would be here soon enough. At 6:30 I dragged myself out of bed, exhausted from the insomnia, but also wondering what the night was telling me.

I decided this: instead of chastising myself, saying, “Pete, you are being silly,” why not tell someone I trust about my fears. Perhaps they can help! This is exactly what I did, and when my friend said the words, “Pete, I'm not doing anything. Why don’t I come to Tulsa with you” I could feel my chest loosen and my spirits lighten. It was a gift from heaven! “Really? You’d come?” And so this is how a 221 mile road trip, which could have been one worth dreading, instead became an opportunity to be celebrated. We laughed. We reminisced. We explored.

Why, in the face of our fears, do we feel we have to figure it all out on our own? Why it so hard for us to admit that we don’t have it altogether? Why do we hold back from telling others what we really need when there are loved ones right under our nose who are happy to help? It is often the case that they are just waiting to be asked!

Perhaps you yourself have had a 3 a.m. experience like I had this past week. Maybe you realized afterward that what you needed most was someone to gently guide you to a place where you were no longer afraid, so that you could say to someone you love, “this is what I really need."

I am a life coach, and part of what I do as a coach is help you discover that place of awareness in yourself where you can say with confidence, “this is what I need.” Perhaps the 3 a.m. wake-up call is a reminder to you, as it was for me this past week, that we cannot do this thing called life alone.

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