Thursday, October 24, 2019

Welcoming Worry

Am I going a little crazy? Maybe. Maybe not. As a lifelong worrier, I’ve fought hard to avoid worrying. And I’ve tried many anti-worry methods: aerobics, meditation, jazzercise, yoga, chocolate and binge watching on Netflix.

Many of the methods were healthful and helpful. And what’s not to like about chocolate and binge watching, “Bones”.  But none of them made the worry go away for good. 

Maybe it’s in my genes or jeans?

As a child my great Aunt Mae told me, “Susan, don’t worry about worrying. You come from a long line of worriers.” I didn’t understand her then but I do now. 

First off, worrying about worrying is definitely not helpful. It’s like a dog chasing its tail. And while the spinning might give you a little exercise, it also keeps the worry circuit fully charged. That said, I’ve spent quite a few hours chasing my worries anyway, perhaps hoping the exercise would help my jeans fit better. 

What’s there to worry about anyway? Really?

The world ending tomorrow? Trump getting re-elected? A plane crashing into my house? Falling meteors? A chocolate shortage? Ok, I know some of these are silly. 

But we all have worries that are very real to us. From birth to death, we work to survive. And with all that work comes success and failure. And the worry follows. I worried I wouldn’t graduate. Or find a job. Or an apartment. Or a boyfriend. Or a home. Or have healthy babies. 

Remembering my worries now about my sweet, small babies, I smile. Both of my babies were considered ‘small’. I fed them and changed them and rocked them all the while worrying constantly. Were they eating enough. Would they gain enough weight. Would the grow up and be good, strong people. 

Now 30 years later, I see my ‘small’ babies are strong, healthy, beautiful adults. They are fine. They are talented. They are working. Now they have babies of their own. And, you guessed it, they worry. 

They worry their babies are too small. That they aren’t growing and learning and eating well enough. That they’ll never learn to sleep through the night. Will they grow up to be good, strong people?

Worry was not what I really wanted to pass on to them  But then, I remember my great Aunt Mae and I say to them, “Don’t worry about being a worrier. You come from a long line of worriers.” 

Maybe the best we can do is welcome worry. 

Maybe welcoming worry won’t make it go away, but it will perhaps, make it a bit lighter. Shining a light on it as a guide to tell us what we truly love and care about. Helping us understand what we need in our life that may be missing. Maybe it’s a part of ourselves that thinks survival depends on being prepared for catastrophe and the only way to do that is worry. 

I’m not sure. And I worry about that. 

But one thing I do see clearly: my worst worries never came true. So now, I’m going to work on welcoming my worries as part of life because I come from a long line of worriers. 

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