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Why Worry? Why Not?
I'm a worrier, not to be confused with warrior, which is something I can be if the situation calls for it.
Unfortunately, I have inherited the dreaded WG; the Worry Gene from my mother.
Before there were cell phones, there were payphones and in those payphones, we would put in money to make a call. I lived way back in the day when dimes were enough to place a call and my parents made sure I had one before I left the house so there would be no excuse why not to call and let them know where I was and when I was on my way home, which would have been before midnight.
There were plenty of times I didn't call. It wasn't that I didn't care about my parents worrying over me or seeing my mother cry when I walked in the door and my father standing there in disapproval, I really just forgot. I was having way too much fun and got so involved in whatever I was doing, the dime remained in my pocket every time I walked in that door. And being grounded never phased me because being alone in my room was something I often did anyway. If they took the television away, it was even better. What writer wouldn't want a quiet room without a television?
As I grew older, my mother's worries never changed. She still calls me on those days I am on my way to visit her and she hears an ambulance before I get there. I've gotten used to calling her when I myself hear an ambulance to put her mind at ease. "Mom, don't worry. I'm not in the ambulance." She laughs about it now but back then it equaled sleepless night and lots of pacing and late night phone calls to hospitals. I swore when I had children I would never be so over protective.
Fast forward to my own children as teens with their own cars; the ultimate test of worry. I never slept, guess I failed that tragically. They had cell phones. It was so much easier to keep in touch than when I was a teen. But did they remember to call or text? Of course not. They were too busy having fun to think about mom sitting at home imagining their cars in a ditch, inches away from their cell phones, unable to answer my frantic calls at 3am when they should have been home at midnight. Oh, I've called hospitals, police stations, checked active calls online, traffic reports, listened for ambulances, followed the routes they would have driven looking near wooded areas to see if I saw their cars, maybe they veered off to avoid hitting a turtle and hit a tree or maybe they ran out of gas and their cell phones died and they are walking down some secluded road crying hysterically wishing I'd find them. Don't worry baby! Mommy is on her way!
Having the creative and vivid imagination of a writer is not helpful when it comes to parenting. We tend to visualize the worst case scenarios which can be so detailed, it's just scary.
Then I saw "The Secret" and I got even more worried because I thought all these negative scenes I was imagining were actually drawing them in, possibly making them happen, so I stopped and for a while I was okay, forcing in beautiful possibilities; She's not answering the phone because she had too much to drink so she did the responsible thing and passed out on her friends sofa. Yeah, that's it. Or he forgot to charge his battery and is sitting in a prayer group somewhere with his new wonderful friends. For sure!
I even found a rock to press and push all my anxieties into. This rock that started out the size of a golf ball was now the size of a peanut was no longer going to help me. I needed to do something quickly.
Being a great believer in self-healing practices, I knew therapy wouldn't work but I understood enough about where it was coming from and how these fears were never going to change an outcome. Worry is a fear, an anxiety and that's just all in your own head. It doesn't matter how much you worry or how little you worry, the outcome will always be the same; worrying about it isn't going to change anything.
What was my solution?
I accepted who I am and made sure others did too. I did an intervention on myself. I put rules out on the table for my teens to follow and even now as adults, the rules are the same. Mom worries. It's how she is. They must adhere to their mother's personality trait and governing voice of wisdom. It means, before you leave wherever you are, you either call me or text me 3 letters: OMW (on my way). But don't do it if you're driving. You will kill your mother. I found that a dash of guilt doesn't hurt. Telling me the time you're leaving, lets me figure out how long it will take you to get home, unless you stop off to get gas or something and forget to let me know, to which I again will worry because that just made your trip longer. And so begins the machine gun texting; Where are you? Why are you taking so long? Oh my God, will this ever end?
I need sleep. No, make it a triple shot of the strongest drink I can find. That's one way to stop worrying.
All it takes is a text; a short informal message putting my mind at ease and to keep me calm. If they know this, they will do it. Now that they are adults, I don't ride them as much as I used to but I still stress out, especially when it's storming out or they are late coming over or have long trips with friends. I go on auto-worry. It's hard to focus on anything else and it certainly doesn't help being a single parent. There's no one to hug me or to say, "It's going to be okay, relax." Maybe that's all I ever needed. Well, if that's what pets are for, I need a bigger dog.
These days, my children are no longer children, with children of their own, so they throw me a bone to put my mind at ease and I appreciate it. Now all they have to do is reply to my "annoying" texts asking where they are and to be careful driving.
In other words, I have transferred all my anxieties onto my children because after all they put me through, it's the least I can do.
Bottom line, worrying doesn't give you anything but stress. Handle it by keeping busy when they don't reply to your texts or calls. Do what I do; write an article about it and transfer all that nervous energy into something positive for other people to read. By the end of the piece, you will be exhausted.