Thursday, January 6, 2011

Worry Wart

What? Me worry? Well, yes, unfortunately, all the time, it seems.

It starts from the moment I open my eyes in the morning (if not before in the middle of some of those sleepless nights) and continues on and on throughout the live-long day. I’ve noticed it has increased in both frequency and intensity these past months, too.

In all honesty, the majority of things I am worry about are really pretty silly. Perhaps they fall into the borrowing trouble category; meaning, because there might not be anything else to seriously worry about OR there are other things to get freaked out about but I don’t want to dwell on those; my mind lands onto something that makes no sense to be fretting about. And, by “pretty silly”; I mean, probably completely and totally unlikely it will ever happen. Or, maybe a more apt way of putting it is “unrealistic”; because if any of these things DID occur, it wouldn’t be silly at all.

And why is this happening, this increase in worry activity? Some of it, likely, is what I referenced above and perhaps that is some sort of self-protection mechanism. This morning, I got to thinking that, as one gets older, one might start worrying more because a) you have more to lose (in all senses of that word) and b) you’ve seen enough to know that bad things CAN and DO happen. Hell, my mind sometimes jumps WAY ahead and starts figuring out what I’d do if one of these things I’m worrying about came to pass. I doubt very much that my 20-something self did that.

Of course, I do have a touch of the OCD thing going on, so, arguably, some percentage of what I might find myself worrying about is complete bunk. Falling into this arena are those little nit-noid things that you KNOW you shouldn’t be worrying about because all the other times you worried about THE SAME THING, nothing ever came of it, but, you do, anyway. Such as, “Crap! Did I shut the garage door? I’m pretty sure I shut the garage door because I always shut to garage door but, well, maybe this time I really did NOT shut the garage door, and, wait, did I lock the door? What if I didn’t shut the garage door and someone gets into the garage and then gets into the house? Yeah, the alarm is on, but, they may flee and leave the door wide open and what if all of the cats get out?” Nine times out of ten, if I am close enough to home, I’ll turn around and go back to make sure the garage door is closed. Ten times out of ten, it is.

Mr. B knows my OCD well; he’s gotten to the point where, as we are pulling out of the driveway to go somewhere (especially somewhere far away like Charleston or Florida), he’ll stop the car, nudge me and point at the CLOSED garage door before he drives on down the street. The mind is an amazingly complex and canny entity, however; because, even after all of THAT, it’ll find SOMETHING ELSE to fret about. As we’ll be roaring down the interstate towards our destination, I’ll start to muse at first to myself and then, when it gets too uncomfortable a burden to keep to myself, out loud, “Did we close the lids to all the toilets? Because, you know, if we didn’t, the cats will drink out of the bowls and die because we put those Clorox bleach tablets in the tank”; or, “Did we put the all of the cords (for the window blinds) up out of reach? I don’t want to come home to find Athena hanging from the window!” Mr. B, bless him, tries very, very hard not to roll his eyes at me while he assures me that we did everything we always do to cat-proof the house before we went out the door. And, if for some reason we forgot something, my brother and sister in law (the cat care takers in our absence) certainly know the drill.

There are tricks to outsmarting this OCD, of course. One is to do something to yourself PHYSICALLY as you are doing the task that you will later worry you didn’t do. For example, as you pull out of the driveway and shut the garage door, you sit there and watch it until it is closed and then give your ear or hair or finger or something a brief tug. The idea is, as your brain starts the fretting process, it’ll remember this physical moment as well and stop worrying. It does work, too. Another (and this works better with things you really cannot control, like, someone you know is getting on a plane and you start obsessing that there will be mid-air collision or something) is, every time you start to worry, you say a mantra or some such to remind yourself that you are obsessing and to break the mood. My mantra is “Obsession is not intuition; intuition is not obsession”.

Ok, so, I’ve gotten off track here with the OCD thing. Truthfully, I’m not a total nut job; this OCD junk doesn’t happen all that often but it does occur frequently for anything related to departures/travel and the like.

So, my normal day to day worrying starts, as I said, from the get-go when the old eyeballs pop open in the am.

Mr. B. He’s my primary source of worry fodder. So, he goes downstairs after kissing my good-bye. Usually, after a few minutes, he’ll go outside to get the paper, turn the car on to warm up, etc. I hear the “beep beep” of the chime on the alarm panel indicating he’s gone out. Then, it starts. “Hasn’t he been out there long enough? How come I haven’t heard him come back in? Maybe he’s had a heart attack and he’s lying in the middle of the driveway dying? I should get up and go make sure he’s ok”. I have to admit, I did exactly this today. Of course, by the time I got up and put my clothes on, he’d come back into the house.

Then, there is the worry of his drive to work. All sorts of bad things could happen, from a deer running out on Doc Nichols road and crashing into his car to some idiot running a light on Glenwood. Both of these events happen frequently; deer running into the road and idiots abounding on the drive, but, thankfully, Mr. B’s sailed on by. Still, we have a routine whereby he sends me an email when he gets into the office telling me he’s there. If I haven’t received this email by, say, 9:00 (I know he can get diverted), that worry really kicks in. When I’m out of town, he sends me a text message. Ok, I KNOW I’m being ridiculous! I know it. But, if I don’t know that he’s ok, I have a hard time relaxing and/or focusing on what I need to do that day.

As an aside, this appears to go both ways, or, maybe he’s caught it from me as, if I don’t reply to his email or text within a certain amount of time HE starts to worry about ME.

After I know he’s ok, if I’m going to worry about anything else, it’s going to be the dog.

She’s not eating, maybe the cancer has returned and it’s in her stomach now. Or, there is a zit on her snout. Maybe it’s another MCT? Or, she’s in the yard and I can’t see her. Maybe one of our ass wipe neighbors, upset that Mr. B is enforcing the “no parking on the street” rule, has poisoned her? I’ve expressed this particular concern to Mr. B, BTW. He just looked at me (patiently) and said, “We can’t be cowed into not doing the right thing”. Actually, this was a better approach of handling this particular worry because, rather than just telling me not to worry about it (as if that would happen) or that I was being silly (which would have just pissed me off), he appealed to the rational and logical part of me, which is to say, “We ARE going to do the right thing and we CAN’T control what everyone else is going to do or not do so it doesn’t matter”. I’ve pretty much stopped fretting about that one now.

So, Mr. B, Lucy, the cats. Makes sense that I’d worry about them since they are my world. The OCD stuff, too, typically involves something or someone I love, even if a bit indirectly. Let me just put it this way; when I fret about leaving the garage door open, it’s not because I’m worried someone is going to get into the house and steal my jewelry; it’s always concern about the pets.

And, here’s one final thing. I hardly EVER worry about myself, and, best as I can figure, this is because I’m in control of myself. Or, maybe, really, it’s because I’m too busying worrying about everyone else!

Mrs. B


Doc said...

Are you intentionally trying to make your blog posts visible from space?

Allia Zobel Nolan said...

I am also a worrier. So much so that I wrote a book on it to see if doing the research would help. Indeed, it does. But I'm a work-in-progress. You may want to check out my book; I still do. It's called THE WORRYWART'S PRAYER BOOK. It's filled with Scripture, affirmations, anecdotes and prayers to help worrywarts get off the worry-go-round and trust God more. My favorite: "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea." Psalm 46:1, 2. My second favorite is my husband's "Let there be no crisis before it's time."

I also have a blog (and I worry that I don't keep it current enough), called THE WORRYWART'S CORNER, which might help worriers. Meantime, remember, God's in charge so give all your worries to Him. He's the only one Who can make any sense of them.