Sunday, May 2, 2010

Worry Wart

The apple did not fall far from the tree. I freely admit that I am a worrier, as my mother before me. I learned at her knee to fret quietly and to just hold my head up an push forward, but it doesn't alter the fact that I do in fact, worry a lot. Sometimes the worry keeps me up at night, or causes enormous emotional upwellings that end in tears of frustration.

I don't want to be a worrier. In fact, I hide it pretty well (I think) most of the time. Because I keep my feelings to myself a good deal of the time (and whether or not this is a good thing is a debate for another blog), people assume that I am a "strong" person. While it is true that I have handled multiple tasks, illnesses, catastrophies and problems (sometimes simultaneously), it doesn't change the fact that I fret over all of it, silently - most of the time. (Sometimes, unfortunately, the pressure cooker blows.) I bear some of the results of this penchant for quiet hand-wringing in my overall health. I am CERTAIN that my overweight is in direct correlation to stress and worry. I'm a nervous nibbler. It's my one vice.

Worry has caused me endless migraine headaches, blood pressure woes, sleepless nights and enough shoulder and neck tension for a lifetime. I don't like being a worrier. It's demoralizing to dwell on inner demons and exhausting trying to keep everyone happy around me or die trying. Some nights it is difficult to shut off the firehose of thoughts, unresolved situations and problems and personal doubt. I turn to Tylenol PM to shut my inner TV off. Then the dreams start - always chasing, action dreams with me. I can't seem to escape the chase.

I worry about those close to me most of all. Will my kids be successful? Can my husband learn to balance work and home? Does my husband still feel attracted to me? Am I enough for him? Do others appreciate all I do? How is my parents' health? What will I do without them some day? Will my brother take responsibility for his life? How can I help my nephews? What more should I be doing for the foundation I (charitably) work for? What housework have I neglected and should get to? What have I forgotten to do or say? What does my future hold? How much longer will I have to be alone all the time? Will our family finances stabilize? Can I get my daughter to take control of her life, weight and career? Why won't my son call more often? What will happen when he is married - will he call even less? The list is endless of worrisome thoughts that bombard me all day long.

Maybe I'm just the same as anyone else. Maybe everyone is constantly working out their problems and feelings about themselves and others, about careers, families and friends. It's just that the older I get (now 51), the less patient and tolerant I seem to become for stress. It all effects me more and more. I know intellectually that worrying accomplishes exactly nothing. It moves me neither forward nor backward (well, maybe backward.) What it does is stall me out. I get gripped by worry so much at times that I just can't focus even on what task comes next.

I long for an easier life. And mine isn't so bad, admittedly. I live in a beautiful home. I have two great, grown kids and a new daughter-in-law in the wings pending a summer wedding this year. I have a good husband that I love dearly but whom I feel takes me for granted in SO many ways. I own my family vacation home on a quiet lake in Wisconsin - my refuge. I've traveled rather extensively, having taken some spectacular vacations in my lifetime. I have loads of cousins and family that I cherish. I'm VERY fortunate to still have two healthy parents. Despite all these things and MANY more, I feel my life isnt easy. Blessed, yes. Easy - not so much. There always seems to be a hurdle ahead of me.

What I am unsure of is how to break my own cycles of worry so I can move forward with better health. I've read all the stuff about stress relief through exercise and better diets. I am trying to do those things regularly. They do help. I think I am a victim of myself a whole lot of the time. I am unable to express to others my emotions and thoughts a lot of the time, (blogging helps) so worry sets in. My inability to open up then stalls my efforts to unburden myself. It's circuotous.

These are tense times in the world. Collapsing economies, untrustworthy government, endless news cycles bearing witness to catastrophy, crime and critique, murderous regimes run amok, environmental disasters, breakdown of family values and unit and a world that has become selfish in the extreme. It's hard to live through this and be unaffected. I wish I could say faith pulls me through, but I have doubts there too, though I acknowledge that SOME kind of force had to there to create the universe. At any rate - the havoc around us is tough to take these days. It doesn't create anything near peace of mind.

Can there be any such thing AS peace of mind? I'm wondering. As thinking, imaginative beings, maybe we are not meant to have complete peace of mind. There will be time enough for that after death, right? Maybe the turmoil allows us to evolve, refine our perceptions and minds. Perhaps the strife is a matter of life passages, like adolecence or menopause. What I do know is that I need to find ways to calm my mind and treat my body better. Suggestions anyone?
This one I can't ask my mom about. We are rowing the same boat. :)


  1. Ms. Hayes...I have also suffered from being a much so that I wrote a book called, The Worrywart's Prayer Book. I also have a blog, The Worrywart's Corner. They may help you. All the best. Allia Zobel Nolan

  2. Thank you Allia. I will definitely check out both your book and blog! Nice to know I'm not alone. :) Patti

  3. Try yoga. I know it's scary. (It freaks me out. Some poses just should NOT be done.) However, the last couple of times I've gone... I've been "blissed out" for hours afterward. Enough that stupid, slow walking, loud taking wanderers in my way didn't even bother me. And I usually want to knock those people in the head with a very heavy baseball bat. I didn't even want to kill Bruce for a couple of days. And that's a challenge for me. ;)