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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Worry is my middle name

There was a brief moment in my life that I think about from time to time. It was the only moment that I didn't know how to worry.

It is a preserved memory because it stands out as a lone instance.  I was four, I climbed up a television antenna outside of my house, onto the roof and was running back and forth amazed with the new perspective a high place gave me.   I didn't have a care in the world.  My mom was in the kitchen and heard footsteps on the roof and ran outside to see her daughter on top of the house.
As you can imagine, she began to panic. At that moment when I saw her face is the first time I remember worrying.  I wasn't worried about the two story drop, I was worried because my mom clearly was. My brother helped get me down and she clung to me like I was about to fall even though I was safe on the ground.

I hadn't thought about consequences yet. But I remember hearing my mom tell the story over and over and the numerous "what if's" that accompanied those conversations. "What if she would have gone to the front of the house?" " What if I would have been too late?" What if, what if, what if." I would witness her getting more and more upset every time she told the story as if it were happening again and again.

Obviously, none of the what if's happened. I was safe. 33 years later and my mom still tells that story.  For a long time I felt ashamed.  But once I became a mom it was less about me and I realized it was more about her and her perceived failure.  That is something I can totally understand.

Since that day I have spent numerous hours worrying.  I worry about everything.  When I was young I had severe stomach problems that were undiagnosed.  Now I know it was worry turning my stomach inside out.  I worried about the safety of my family. I worried about my school work. I worried about my body.  I spent a tremendous time worrying about my outfit and even more time worrying about what other people thought of me.

Throughout college, worry was my constant companion and something I relied on. 

As a grown women I have found that my worry has left it's mark on my face for all to see. Battle wounds of prominent vertical wrinkles on my forehead. Not smile lines, worry lines.   My mom said if I made faces someday my face would freeze that way. Well it has. In a constant state of worry, I look worried even on the rare instance that I'm not. 

I worry about the same exact things I did when I was a kid. I worry about the safety of my family and about my work. I worry about the way my body looks,  I worry about my outfits and sadly, I spend an exorbitant amount of time worrying about what other people think of me.

Even the people that are closest to me. I struggle at times because I worry that my husband doesn't think I'm attractive or that the boys don't see me as a good mother.  What I'm actually feeling is my own sentiment mirrored back at me.  I don't think I'm attractive and I don't think I'm a good mother. I have told myself this long enough, that it starts to feel like a truth.

Imagine if I turned my thoughts towards the possibility that I am wrong?   I wouldn't doubt Don's admiration. (After all, he married me.)  If the love I give to my son's was reflected back to me from  their eyes,  I couldn't possibly worry.

But, when I shower them with constant worry, the same thing is reflected back. The last thing I want is for them to hesitate through life because they saw the angst on my face.  I can lead them down a path of worry, or let them take the lead and be behind them to catch them if they fall.

Worrying has gotten me to this point, which despite myself, is pretty great.   When I was little, I never did fall, my mom was there to catch me before I did.   Keeping your children safe is one thing, instilling useless fear in them so they won't try is different.


  1. Noelle: Go to YouTube &look up the song, "Don'tWorry be Happy" It is a cute song & it is good advice.