Thursday, February 5, 2015

Is It Tomorrow Yet?

A long time ago, Brad asked why I always went directly to the worst case scenario (If he was 20 minutes late getting home from work without calling, I would immediately begin planning his wake). My answer? Because the worst case scenario had happened, and I didn't want to be caught off guard again.

It reminds me of Connor and Vivi's conversation in The Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood:
Connor: I don't know what the hell she's so afraid of -- it's like she's always waiting for the bottom to drop out.
Vivi: You know why she thinks that, don't ya, honey? Because it did. It always did.

Despite, my validation and excuses for worrying and catastrophic thinking, I read once that worry is an arrogant emotion...as if by worrying we are exerting control over situations instead of putting our faith in God. My mom is a HUGE worrier, and looking at her life, I understand why. Many times worrying was probably the only way she felt any sense of control over situations. She so frequently called the hospitals asking if they had any patients named Swan, Bell or my sister's last name, that she and the operator (before automated systems) were on a first name basis.

But I'm progressing. I get many opportunities to practice. Brad calls an hour later on his way home from work, Chloe doesn't text me from 4:00 p.m. until the next morning, Peyton or Lily has an unexplainable headache, and on and on. Normal, daily family life. But, when you indulge in catastrophic thinking--as I sometimes still do--those normal occurrences could turn into daily panic attacks. And although I worry less about things, sometimes I fail and revert to rocking in the old comfortable worry chair.

When I opened my eyes on February 5, 1989, I had no idea that my life had been forever changed. Before that day, it never ever occurred to me that my brother, the strongest, most vibrant person I knew could die. When he did, I was devastated beyond understanding, and some primal part of me decided that going forward I should be prepared for the worst and prevent feeling that kind of heartbreak ever again.

I know now that no amount of worry or preparing for the worst can lessen the pain you feel if the worst thing you can imagine actually happens. However, every minute spent worrying about the unknown will certainly lessen your joy.

One of the best coping mechanisms I learned was in a group therapy class when the facilitator asked regarding anxiety over a situation, "What is the worst that could happen? And what if it did?" We've all lived through bad things, and since life doesn't offer any get-out-of-pain-and-suffering passes as far as I know, the chances are pretty good that we'll live through more.

I've been trying this crazy technique lately of actually feeling my feelings and being with them. Normally, I immediately judge them, "Why do you get so angry about stupid things? What's wrong with you?" or distract myself from them, "I'm really worried so I think I'll watch Parenthood and not think about it," or stuff them, "Well, I'm just going to bury this sadness underneath a healthy dose of anger and maybe some cookies and then I'll project it onto the next stupid thing that happens." I know I belong on a couch.

Anyway, you know how in meditation you acknowledge your thoughts--that was a thought--but don't get caught up in them? That's what I've been trying to do. Today, that has amounted to a lot of acknowledging sadness and crying, which is okay, because I know eventually I'll stop crying. Still gonna skip mascara today.

Have you ever tried that? I'd highly recommend it. The next time you're worried or stressing about something, stop and ask yourself: What is the worst possible thing that could happen? What would I do if it did? Let me know what happens.

Have a beautiful day! xoxo

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