The Anxiety Monster
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.” Matthew 6:25 NRSV
Don't Worry Baby
I worry. A lot. About everything. I worry about my family, my friends, my kids, my pets, my health, money…everything. Sometimes it feels impossible not to. I have always been a worrier. From the time I was a kid I would make myself sick about things I had no control over. I fretted about burglars coming in at night and fire destroying our home. I was petrified of being kidnapped and wouldn't stay over at friend’s houses because I thought I would never see my mom again.
I can look back at these things as an adult and see the craziness, see the possible anxiety disorder growing. I can see where it might have come from, too. To put it bluntly, I blame my mother.
She never wanted me to worry that much, I’m sure. She just did so inadvertently. By trying to keep me safe and teach me to be responsible, she fostered and nurtured my own personal list of irrational fears. She warned me from the time I could walk to the bus stop by myself about strangers trying to lure kids into their vehicles. When I hit junior high, she drilled me every time we got into the car about what I was supposed to do if she were to pass out while driving down the highway. I can’t count the times I was told never to tell someone you hate them because those could be the last words you ever say to them or not to go to bed angry at anyone because that person might not wake up the next morning. How I didn't end up on a therapists chair by high school, I'll never know...
Yeah, what they said...
Her heart was in the right place. She just wanted to raise a good kid, a safe kid, a polite kid. Needless to say, I’m raising my kids differently. Not that I don't want them to be all of those things, too, I just don’t use scare tactics to get them there. I can’t imagine my children ever having to live with the anxieties I had as a child and still harbor as an adult. (although I'm not as afraid of being lured into a van with a puppy...) I still have difficulties moving past some of my fears but I’m working on it and, with God’s help, I’m moving past them. I refuse to let them control my life any more.
Of course, my mom’s words of wisdom weren't all anxiety provoking. She did manage to sneak a few lessons in there that didn't give me nightmares. She taught me that politeness and kindness go a long way. Everyone deserves a smile and a nice word. Love is an amazing gift and the best things in life are free. Despite it all, I do believe I am a better person because of her and I do feel very blessed with the mother I was given.
I don’t want to sound like my mom wasn't a great mom. She was, she still is in fact. I can count on her for anything. It's just that, in my adult years, I have realized that she perpetuated most of my childhood anxieties….
Of course now, most of my fears center more around my kids. Will I be here to see them grow up, will they be here to see me grow old, am I parenting them right, giving them everything they need? Sometimes it seems I spend the majority of my time worrying about someone or something. But at least now I know have to ask for God’s help in seeing me through my fears and I have to talk about what bothers me instead of holding it all in all the time.
Sharing my insecurities and worry has been one of the hardest things I've had to do. I'm not a sharer, not really. Or at least I wasn't. But that is changing and helping more than I could have imagined. Talking about what's bothering me is like taking off a weighted vest I'd been carrying around. I can breathe again.
He makes it sound so simple...
Where to go from here?
Maybe it is impossible to live without some kind of fear or worry or concern. Maybe that’s what keeps us alive, keeps us from killing ourselves or walking into dangerous situations. But it definitely holds us back, too. The key, I suppose is just finding the happy medium, the middle ground. And that’s kind of what we’re all doing isn’t it? We’re all just trying to be…happy.
As I said earlier in this hub, I realized that beating, or at least taming, the anxiety I was battling couldn't be done alone. I started talking more about my issues with my husband and even my mom. I let close friends be the confidants they wanted to be and felt a relief. But the biggest transformation came when I realized that I could not do it without God. When something bothered me, I chose to pray about it instead of fret about it. It wasn't easy, especially at first. Trusting God doesn't happen over night. That's why He tests us all the time. If we learn to turn over the little things to Him, it becomes easier to trust Him during the big things.
It has taken a few years, about two and a half to be specific, but my life has changed immensely. Worry no longer rules my life. I was unhappy. I lived life scared and unsure and happiness seemed like an unreachable goal. I still worry, I'm sure I always will but letting go has become far easier than I ever could have imagined. I trust God and in return, he has rewarded me. There will be tests, there will be trials but He will get me through. When I find myself getting pulled down, I turn to Him and He never lets me down. Some things I do not understand. I'm not always supposed to but I remind myself that He has a plan for me and my family and my job is to have faith.
- Ice Box
The snow just keeps falling. Theres a blanket of white covering everything I see. Crisp and clean, what should be beautiful only leaves me cold. I am drowning in this sea of frozen water. Somewhere...
"No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful and He will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing, He will provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it."
-1 Corinthians 10.13 NRSV