Friday, March 18, 2011

Confessions of a worrier

 I was born a worrier.  As a matter of fact I'm pretty sure I slide out of my mothers womb worrying about if I was hurting her, if I had chosen the right family, and if someone was going to catch me when I came out.

As I grew older, the worrying grew right along with me.  As a child I worried about my brothers health, if I remembered to feed the cat, and what was for dinner (I HATE mushrooms, and my mom loves them).  As a pre-teen I worried about my father's heart, our pets, and what boys liked which girls.  In high school I worried about grades, family finances, and colleges.  As a young women...well by this time my worrying was about pretty much everything all the time.

I see worry as a disease, or at least my worrying is one.  The more I allowed myself to wonder and ponder the future, the more worried and fretful I became.  It got so bad that I began to worry that I was worrying too much.

There were several folks over the years who tried to help me with this issue.  My parents constantly said place your trust in God, worrying is an affront to Him.  My friends said worry is silly, and bad for you, you have an ulcer and you're only 19!  My first husband said what is going to happen will happen so why worry about it when you can't do anything about it?

None of those approaches worked for me.  For someone who worries telling them God will be mad at them only increases the worry load.  For someone who has an ulcer from worry telling them worry is bad for their health and they could die increases the worry.  And lastly telling a worrier they have no control over guessed it, more worry!

Meanwhile my worrying had become a major problem.  I now had children, and the weight of the worry I had about them was absolutely crushing.  I was so worried about the future I was paralyzed to make any major (or sometimes even minor) decisions about my life.  I continued to suffer from ulcers, upset stomach, and other less socially acceptable physical ailments.  I had started to worry about things out loud to my new husband, causing him untold stress and aggravation at a time when he had enough on his plate.  And to make matters even more fun I started to predict bad things would happen to me and worry about what I would do when they did. 

Then, like a miracle I found author Jeffery Pierce  and Old Ways.  At that time he was teaching classes and posting them online.  One of the first classes I remember seeing he said this:  Worry is fear, fear is the opposite of love, I want to live in love.

It was like a bolt out of the blue!  All my worries, all my concerns, all my imaginings were just fear!  This might seem like a fairly simple concept, but to someone who had spent her entire life not understanding why I worried, or how to stop, this was a voice of hope in the wilderness.  I think with stubborn people (that would be me) Deity sometimes has to hit us in the face with the equivalent of a dead fish to get our attention.  

Understanding why I was worried helped me get a handle on my fears, but it didn't entirely solve the problem.  Breaking a lifelong habit is not easy.  It felt like every time I turned around those little worry monkeys were climbing up my back again.  So I started doing a few things to help me remember that worry was stifling my life.  I posted notes around my computer as reminders.  I got a tattoo to remind me every time I glanced at my arm.  I asked my hubby to gently bring to my notice when I started the worrying.

It's been over a year now that I've been working on this.  Like most things worth doing it's been a slow process, but the rewards have been great.  Every morning when I wake up I repeat to myself worry is fear, fear is the opposite of love, and I want to live in love.  I'm still scared about the future sometimes, but I no longer allow it to rule my life and make me miss out on all the good things Deity wants to bring me.  Love is a good place to be, it has brought me people and experiences I never would have had if I was back in the black hole of worry, fear, and ultimately despair.

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