I saw the prompt for Sunday Scribblings last night, right before heading up to bed, and managed to laugh. "Are you a worrier?" they asked. As anyone who knows me IRL, I am nothing as much as I am a worrier. No other descriptor of me should be used before "worrier" or "worrywart" or "paranoid pessimistic Eeyore."
The addition to children in my life has only pushed my worrier status from amateur to professional level. I can compete with the best of them. And I will win. Only the rusty medal bestowed upon world-class worriers isn't really something anyone would want to brag about or put on display.
As a child and young adult, I would have ferocious stomach aches whenever some event loomed in front of me. When I was 9, I was sick to my stomach every single morning before heading off to summer day camp. I was fine once I was there, but getting there was horrific. And I was unable to break the cycle, even though I acknowledged I was fine once I was there.
Speeches to give in high school and college? Ow, ow, ow. Job interviews? Ow, ow, ow. Presentations to clients? OW, OW, OW. Getting on a plane? I was sure it would crash. Someone is interested in me? Certain he was a serial killer. [Okay, not that far, but sick to death the first few dates.]
And then it all stopped, the worries, for close to 10 years. The panic, the fear, the angst about such things no longer existed. Hypnosis? Psychiatric treatment? Meditation? None of those.
My dad died.
"Now all them things that seemed so important/Well, mister, they vanished right into the air."*
And something in my mind and my heart and my soul (and my stomach) realized that there are bad things that happen to us, and then there is everything else. And nothing seemed bad again for the longest time. Because what's worse than the death of a loved one?
Only, now, it's back. Not to the same degree, mind you. And certainly not in the inane personal way it was back then. I have no fear of speaking to large audiences. I have no angst about being interviewed for TV or radio. I don't worry about anything happening to me. I fret only about the kids. I obsessively worry, at times, about their safety and well being.
The funny thing is, though, that Daughter heads off to her outdoor education gig this week. She'll be gone from Tuesday morning until Friday afternoon. Which of my three kids is the most self-assured and self-confident and capable on her/his own? Yeah, Daughter. My fearless, worry-free Daughter. My only worry? How will I ever get all the tangles out of her hair upon her return?
Maybe I'm learning something from her.
*Bruce Springsteen's The River