How to Deal with the "It-Almost-Happened" Situations

Op-ed

“...the hardest word to swallow is almost.”

― R. YS Perez, I Hope You Fall in Love: Poetry Collection

Almost: not quite; very nearly.

TW: brief mention of sexual assault

“I almost fell in love with him”, I have heard this phrase so many times now. It is usually accompanied by a sigh of relief like, “thank god, it didn’t happen” and it always makes me think about myself and whether I have ever dealt with such a situation.

There have been instances when people have come up to me and told me that they almost got into so-and-so college, and I am like, but you didn’t. Obviously, I didn’t say it out loud, but that is what was going on in my mind at that moment.

I never feel bad for these people and I think that these people should be glad that such almost-happened incidents never happened and they got to experience a different life, an unexpected life, and a more exciting life, because maybe they never would have met the people that they admire at the moment.

“I almost got raped.” When I hear someone say this, I feel a shiver down my spine because these instances make me wonder what if it would have happened. Our lives would have been completely different. I am glad that it did not happen, but have you ever wondered whether the person who dealt with this almost-happened incident has to deal with the trauma of something that never really happened.

We all have experienced some kind of discomfort in our lives, for example, harassment or assault of some sort, that made us deal with a wide range of emotions. The battle between how to live with this trauma that we felt afterward and the will to live is a very difficult one and in many cases, people give up. Those who choose to live with the pain are not always able to deal with it completely. Those who deal with the pain come out stronger, but the healing process is not an easy one and makes you very vulnerable.

There have been some instances where one almost experienced something traumatic. That might have a very prominent effect on that person, because they might feel certain things or emotions that they might not have been acquainted with before. This almost happened - the uncertainty of this situation can make you wonder what if it would have happened, what then? Who would you be after that certain incident? How would you be? Or would you even be?

It’s easy for people to tell you that it’s been so long and that you should move on. But what if you have moved on, what if it’s that almost situation they can’t get out of your head?

Sometimes, just telling someone about what you almost experienced seems like a justified option, but then again, almost is not a very promising word. Most of the time, we learn to deal with everything that happens to us or with us, we embrace the reality and truth of the situation and eventually get over it. It takes time, but we still do. When you think about the almost-happened situations, that never really happened, but the uncertainty of what could have happened makes you wonder whether it might have happened to anyone else or might, in the future. In essence, you could easily fall down the rabbit hole when considering everything that could have happened to you.

So, when you think about reaching out to others so that you can prevent almost-situations like these from happening again, you think of damage control. It might seem morally correct, but not everything is possible. There are a billion people out there and telling everyone ‘this might happen to you so beware’ is physically impossible. There are many things that you can’t control.

Think of yourself as a person who was in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship. When you’re in love, you tend to overlook a few negative qualities of your partner and sooner or later, you start to overlook certain incidents. But when you finally get out of that relationship and start remembering things, you realise that the abuse wasn’t just mental and emotional, there were many almost-happened instances as well, such as there were incidents where your partner almost beat you up or almost cheated on you.

Let’s take another example, your work is going well and your boss is impressed with you, but because your company is having financial problems, they have decided to let go of some employees. You’re observing your friends getting fired and some very important officials are also being let go of. You decide to confront your boss about your job security and your boss tells you that they can’t promise you anything. The uncertainty of this situation keeps you ruminating, but after a few days, your boss tells you that your job is safe. You almost lost your job and the chances of something similar happening again in the future can cause you a lot of distress.

It is important to address such experiences for the sake of yourself. Accepting the fact that such a thing never actually happened but could have is a very hard thing to do because it will make you question yourself, what if this happens again in the future?

It might, and it might not happen, because you can’t control what’s going to happen tomorrow. Since you have already dealt with such a situation, you will be ready to face it, given it happens again. You won’t get in another toxic relationship again because you already know how the last one affected you, and you're not going to lose your job because you are good at what you do.

You are going to face a lot of almost-situations, and they are going to give you a lot of issues to deal with because it’s not easy to handle uncertainty, let alone live with it. You can’t control everything. That thought alone is scary, but it’s better to accept the truth than live a lie. You need to start believing in yourself, then you will only realise that none of it is your fault.

Image Sources:

1. https://www.istockphoto.com/illustrations/friends-laughing

2. https://highlandspringsclinic.org/blog/can-emotional-trauma-cause-brain-damage/

3. https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/silhouette-hands-reaching-out-help_6910785.htm

4. https://flo.health/menstrual-cycle/sex/sex-and-relationships/toxic-relationships

5. https://grammartop.com/almost-synonyms/

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Simran Tuteja
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Simran Tuteja is 20 year old undergraduate student majoring in Mathematics from the University of Delhi. She started writing when she was clinically depressed and dealing with anxiety and she wants to become a successful writer. Simran enjoys writing short stories, poems and articles. Her poem ‘Little do they know’ got published in ‘In Real Life’, an anthology by Himanshu Goel. She is the Editor-in-Chief at Ananta, the Science Society of Indraprastha College for Women.