Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Worry, What is it Good For?

 Absolutely nothing!

The weeks whiz by and I don't accomplish as much as I should.  Here we are in mid-October already; hard to believe.  I'm on the verge of, if not depression, at least a downturn in the optimism department, if that makes any sense.  Anxiety has been gaining the upper hand at times, and I have to work hard to keep it at bay.  

Looking back on my past history, I have always and ever been a worrier.  Worry about this, worry about that, and for what?  I've written about this before, I know, but I still have not reformed. 

 Sometimes I picture a mythical 'Worry Bank'; an imposing, forbidding, dark granite building with bronze doors and a marble staircase to gain entrance; everything about the building is cold and hard, just like the anxiety I deposit in the vault.  Making these deposits doesn't help at all, even if in some perverse way I think stockpiling them will benefit me.  My silly thoughts run along these lines; by worrying about every possible outcome of every possible scenario, I'll be 'covered' and protected from catastrophe somehow.  After fifty-nine years of living, I should know by now, we can never, ever predict the future.

Case in point, the other day I was in the bathroom trying to put my socks on standing up.  Yes, I'm a rebel.  I do this quite often and have never had a problem in the past, but as fate would have it, I lost my balance when I was putting on my left sock.  Tipping over sideways towards the shower, my first instinct was to catch myself on the wall, but I missed the wall completely and hit the shower curtain instead, continuing to fall until my arm hit the far wall of the shower stall.  The side of the bathtub almost took my feet out from under me, but being a tad tall, I won the battle and retained my footing.  
After the flailing ended, I stood up, dusted myself off, and checked for broken body parts.  Thankfully, there were none, not even a bruise, but it could have ended much, much worse.  I was lucky this time.  This was definitely one scenario I had never worried about before; now this could lead to more frenzied 'What If?' worries, but I won't go there.  At least I'm trying not to.  

Ironically, Carl and I met an acquaintance at a meeting this week who rolled up to me on a cart with her leg in a soft cast.   She had  slipped in the shower hitting her head twice in the process.  Being  unable to get up because she has had knee replacements, she would have been in deep trouble, but luckily her husband was home to help her.  Once she was back on her feet, she realized her foot was broken, so off to the hospital for a cast which then caused her to break out in a rash over her entire body, hence the soft walking cast and rolling cart.  


I didn't ask her, but I just bet she never worried about something like this happening to her, either.   

Sometimes I think this is fodder for Stephen King to write horror stories about; there are rarely big, green monsters lurking to nab the unsuspecting; no, it's the small, every day hazards we usually navigate with nary a thought which are really and truly dangerous.  Trip on the stairs, fall in the shower, cut yourself on a broken glass washing dishes; the mundane tasks of living and being on autopilot can be hazardous to your health.

Speaking of health:  I have a followup with my retina specialist this week Friday.  The Thirteenth.  I'm not superstitious, but sigh, really? What was I thinking when I made that appointment?  My eyesight has not diminished as far as I can tell, but the floaters are about the same.  I can live with them, but the macular degeneration possibility he'd mentioned back in June looms like the big, creepy monster in Mr. King's novels, waiting in the dark for an unsuspecting me to bump into.   

I joined an online support group for macular degeneration after the first appointment.  The group is wonderful and has a lot of information, but I found I had to unsubscribe from the feed because I couldn't handle the constant reminder of what is possibly in store for me.  I don't want to bury my head in the sand, but I'm throwing away precious days of fairly good sight in anticipation and dread of losing what I have had up until now.  

Which brings me to another ironic incident: I remember when I was newly married and had mentioned to a rather bitter coworker how close I was to Carl, how we did almost everything together, and how much I loved and depended on him.  She was married, but apparently not happily, and I suppose my rosy picture of marital bliss was wearing on her last nerve.   

"You'd better take a hard look at your life.  What are you going to do if he leaves you for another woman or gets killed in an accident or gets sick and dies?  You should put some distance between you, otherwise you're going to be a hot mess if something happens.  You take my advice, don't stay so close, don't be stupid.  Make a life for yourself. It will hurt like hell when it ends."

All righty, then.

Those words of wisdom were imparted to me almost forty years ago, and what if I'd taken action then?  What if I'd put some distance between us, held my husband at arm's length so I wouldn't get too attached?  Look at the time and love I would have wasted.  Of course, I will be devastated when we have to part, and it could happen at any time, but in the meantime, am I to be an anxious, nervous wreck, trying hard to protect myself from the inevitable pain of losing the love of my life?  

According to quotes I've read over the years, Worry is: the thief of joy, the misuse of the imagination, a wasted emotion, useless.  And paralyzing.  

I don't know how I'll cope if my eyesight does indeed deteriorate or I contract some deadly disease, or if an accident happens and I lose all that I love.  I do not know. 

In the time Mom lived with us, those short months, we had many conversations about death and Heaven.  We had a few ministers come to the house to read her bible passages and she always sat and listened politely.  Mom believed in God, but she was in no hurry to die.  After they left, I asked her if she enjoyed having the bible read to her, and she said, "They are good people.  They mean well."  I know what she meant.  

When faced with her mortality, she wasn't terrified, she was never a worrier, but she was uneasy.  

A few days before she died, she said, "I cannot imagine what heaven must be like, can you?  How big it must be to have all those people there!    Surely it must be full by now, just think of all the people in the world who have died.  And I'm so short, how will I ever see anything when I get there?"

"I don't know, Mom.  But I think Heaven is a vast place, I really do.  Look at the stars at night, there are so many in the sky.  There will be room for you, I just know there will, and you won't be short any more.  You'll be able to see everything."

She smiled. I don't know if it gave her any comfort.  We were just two women staring at the unknown and hoping.  Did I love her any less, and harden my heart because we were to be parted soon?  No.  Mom lived her life one day at a time.  She always made the best of everything, good and bad.  I do believe that is how she lived to be ninety-six years old; she refused to be stressed by things she could not control.  She did the work in front of her and even when her eyesight failed, did the best she could with what she had left, painting pinecones mere hours before she passed away.

Mom lived her life.  

I saw this quote and had to admit how much this sounds like me:

“People get so in the habit of worry that if you save them from drowning and put them on a bank to dry in the sun with hot chocolate and muffins they wonder whether they are catching a cold.”
– John Jay Chapman

How true!  

 “The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.” – Robert Frost

 Ok, enough worrying.  Now I'm off to work!


Alison said...

I'm a worrier too. It hits me mostly at night, when I go to bed, or sometimes in the middle of the night when I wake up. Sometimes in the form of an anxiety attack in the daytime. I actually do worry often about falling. Gardening helps with the anxiety, I can feel the depression coming on whenever I have to take a break from it. I'm so glad you had such a great relationship with your mom for so many years. So sorry you still miss her.

Ellie's friend from canada said...

Hi Karen,

I think my original comment got lost so am repeating it. i am not sure why but when I hit publish comment it seems to totally disappear. I, too, was a worrier until my mother told me "Don't worry until you know you need to worry". Then I stopped worrying. If you cannot change an outcome, why worry about it? I think our mothers shared this in common, not worrying and carrying on and I think that contributed to their longevity. It is truly inspiring that your mother was still painting cones up till she passed away. Today, on top of all my eye damage, the specialist detected some macular degeneration. I'm not going to worry until I have it in both eyes as you can still have 20/20 vision with only one eye. It may be a long time before any significant vision loss occurs. Here's hoping and praying in both our cases...


Indie said...

I am a worrier, too. I have a weird superstition that if I think of something then it won't happen, so if I think of all these catastrophes then it somehow prevents them from happening or I will be prepared or something. So silly! In the end worrying doesn't ever help but instead hinders me from enjoying the day, which is something that I try to realize. One thing that helps me to appreciate the day is to think of three things that I am thankful for at the end of each day, even if they are just little things. Your mother is an inspiration, still enjoying her painting even at the age she was.

outlawgardener said...

If worry causes us to be prepared for eventualities, it's a good thing but if it keeps us from living and loving fully, it sucks. Sending you love.

My mother wasn't a religious person and seldom darkened the door of a church but she was a person of great faith and found comfort in her bible which now sits on a table in our living room with a pair of her glasses on top. Matthew 6:25-34 and Luke 12:22-32 come to mind. Or as Doris Day sang, "Que Sera Sera, Whatever will be will be, The future's not ours to see..."

Monty Python had a slightly different take:

Robert Frost may have had something there so I'd better get to work as well!

Karen said...

Alison, we must be twins! I often put off going to bed at night because as soon as my head hits the pillow, I'm off on another worry-fest. This then sets off a vicious cycle which is no good for me, and I know it. Gardening does help oh so much, but with winter coming on, well, let's hope there's snow for skiing or I'll be a basket case. I was so lucky to have had a loving mother; she was truly a blessing to me all my life. Here's to both of us having fewer worries!

Karen said...

Ann, I'm hoping and praying for you, too! I love your positive attitude, something I truly need to cultivate. Your mother sounded so much like my own, practical and steadfast. Indeed, why worry about what hasn't happened yet? There will be time enough when and IF things go wrong. Thank you for your kind words. :-)

Karen said...

Indie, I am totally guilty of the same thing. I can remember as a little kid, tossing a ball up in the air and thinking 'If I can catch this ball one hundred times without dropping it, then nothing bad will happen,' and the sheer gut-wrenching dread when I dropped it! Oh no! Of course, what I was worried about never came to pass, but it wasn't because of my worrying. Such a waste of time.

I will definitely put your advice to think of three things every day I'm thankful for. Wise words indeed!

Karen said...

Peter, thank you! Your mother must have been a wonderful woman. What a lovely reminder of her faith in your home. I haven't darkened the doors of the church much lately either, which could be part of my problem. I do read my bible every day, a version given to our sons when they were confirmed, written in everyday language. I wasn't sure I'd like it, but I do have to admit it is much easier to relate to.

Doris Day and Monty Python?! What different takes on worry! I had the best laugh listening to that song! Though I'm an avid Monty Python fan, this one escaped my attention until now. (And now it's stuck in my head.....sing it with me! 'I'm so worried about..........." HA HA!

africanaussie said...

Oh I do enjoy your ever so honest posts and musings. Stuck on a bank with hot chocolate and muffin - that sounds like a great idea! I fell in the shower just before I went overseas, and didnt realize until I got back six weeks later that i had been walking around with a broken toe! I am so glad that you didn't distance yourself from Carl - I love hearing about your days when you work together, what a blessing that is. Isnt it amazing that I can walk into a room and forget what I came for, wish it was so easy to forget all the things i worry about.

Beth @ PlantPostings said...

Wow, good advice about the uselessness of worry. I used to be more of a worrier than I am now, but there are times when it still overtakes me. Most of the time it's in the middle of the night when I'm trying to sleep and some deep, dark fear hits. Usually, breathing exercises, prayer, and happy thoughts pull me through. I also think that worry and sadness hit harder this time of year when the daylight is diminishing. Vitamin D, sunshine, and exercise help to pull me out of the funk. I'm glad you are so wise about your relationships. :)

Karen said...

africanaussie, Six weeks walking on a broken toe? I bet that hurt! I'm starting to think the shower must be the most dangerous place in the home. I agree, why can't I forget my worries as often as I forget where I put my cellphone or the car keys? Thank you so much for your kind words!

Karen said...

Beth, I agree, the days are getting ever so much shorter, it seems by leaps and bounds, right now. And with the colder weather and less sunshine, well, I'm certain this all plays into lowering moods. Great reminder to keep on exercising, getting Vit. D and most of all Breathe! I had a friend who posted that one word over her desk at work as constant reminder to let the stress and worry go. :-)

HWIT BLOGG said...

Interesting post from you and yes, I´m a worrier too :)
Have a lovely sunday, take care...

Karen said...

Titti, Thank you! I'm working on worrying less and less. Hope you had a wonderful Sunday, too. :-)

Betsy said...

I can relate to falling trying to put on a sock. Made me so mad when that happened.
Mama always used to say - worry for what? I never really had an answer. I used to do quite a bit of it. Not anymore. I realize I have no guarantee of the next minute here on earth, don't waste it worrying. Took many years to get to that part. My husband sits in his office here and meditates quietly about an hour an evening as he said it helps clear his head. He also exercises each night at the Y and that releives tension. I must try it and get more vitamin D.
I enjoyed reading your post this morning. Not gonna worry about a thing today!
Have a wonderful Monday

Karen said...

Betsy! Great advice! I'm doing my best to follow your example. :-)