Walking back from town the other day, my phone buzzed at me a number of times, in quick succession. As both kids were home for Thanksgiving break, my immediate assumption was that something terrible had happened to one, the other, or both, and I nearly broke my neck tripping on a uneven bit of sidewalk while trying to extricate my phone from my jacket pocket. Both hands grabbing for a ringing phone means none to reach out in front of you when you fall. It was then I realized that I live my entire life just waiting for the other shoe to drop. I am in a near constant state of worry.
An incomplete list of some of the recent things that have either kept me awake, or (my favorite!) woken me up at 4AM, and/or compelled me get out of bed to check on, would have to include; did I turn off the stove, did I turn off the toaster oven, did I turn off the dryer, do I smell smoke, is the tingly feeling in my pinky toe an early sign of MS, are my headphones really broken or am I losing my hearing in my right ear, is his snoring a sign of sleep apnea, did I lock the car, did I lock the back door, do I hear someone outside, are the kids both in bed, (better than when they were little and I also had to check if they were breathing), did I lose my keys, did I lose my phone, did I lose my wallet, should I have gone to law school?
With all the worrying I do, it's a wonder I get anything else done at all. I'm not worried about anything in particular, we're all healthy, we have a roof over our heads and plenty of food to eat, I'm just worried about everything. Planes crashing, elevators falling, car accidents, anytime the people I love aren't safely in my sight, I'm on heightened alert anticipating the worst. Most pointedly about things I can't control. If I'm not in charge, I can't be sure things won't go horribly awry.
The strange thing about my free floating anxiety, is that I have it in conjunction with unbridled optimism. So in addition to always feeling like sometime terrible is about to happen, I'm quite convinced that everything is going to be just fine. It's a rather confusing landscape in my head. The best way I can figure, it's a small picture/big picture dichotomy. While in the immediacy of any given moment I am concerned that something dreadful is about to occur, I have great faith that in the long run everything will work out for the best. I just wish I could believe that in the middle of the night when my mind is racing.
One of the wonderful things I have been given by social media is that back in the olden days (pre-facebook), I just assumed that this was just me and my weirdness. Now, nearly every day someone I know posts something about anxiety disorders, and what is it like to live with them. And I have begun to realize that not only is this not just me, but my anxiety level isn't even all that bad. So there, one less thing to worry about. It may not stop me from being anxious, but it does bring me comfort to know I'm not alone, so I hope this post brings comfort to anyone else in the same boat.
Oh, and the buzzing phone? Offers from Bed, Bath and Beyond, Lord & Taylor, and Michael Kors for holiday weekend savings......