Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Bigger Picture: Relearning life lessons

I'm resurrecting this post all the way from February 5, 2009 this morning because I need a good dose of my own medicine. It's funny how I've learned these same life lessons before, and just a little more than a year later, I need to learn them again. I cannot control what happens to my dad ultimately. Really, the only thing I can do is try to advocate for the best care possible and support him and my step mom right now. And it has to stop there or else I cross the line and sink away into a deep pit of worry.

One of my first memories is of walking into preschool and telling my mom that everything would be OK, and she could leave. I was reminded of this scene when I dropped Gabe off at nursery before the Mothers of PreSchoolers (MOPS) meeting at church today. I asked Gabe for a kiss. He turned around, planted one on my lips and proceeded to head over to the toys. When I said goodbye to him, he turned around, said "buhbye!" and continued playing. He wasn't concerned about my leaving; he knew I'd come back. He was focused on living and enjoying the moment. Oh, that I could be so free. Oh, that I could channel that young girl I recall so vividly in my mind.
I was so independent; I was so confident; I was so innocent.

But something happens to young girls (and maybe boys?) during their first few years out of the comforts of being at home with mom (or grandma, as was my case), and it's not pretty. Voices that aren't as pleasant as mom or grandma get stuck in their heads.

And at the young age of six, I began to worry about things I heard my girlfriends talk about:

"I don't do time tables quick enough."

"I wasn't invited to her birthday party."

"I'm not wearing cute clothes."

At the young age of six, I began to worry. And as I grew and listened to others voice their concerns, I worried even more. By high school, I could worry myself into getting straight As so I would get into a good college. In college, I worried myself into 4.0 semesters so I could get a good job. During this time, though, my worry nature grew larger. That's what happens when you feed a beast -- it gets bigger. Because I could worry myself into success, I began to worry about the things in life that I couldn't control:
"What if my plane crashes into the ocean on the way to Slovenia?"
"What if another terrorist attack happened in Chicago?"

And being married and venturing into motherhood also gave my brain new things about which to ponder:

"What if Gabe falls off the slide at the church nursery, knocks himself out and seriously injures himself?"

"What if John gets into an accident on his way to work?"

"What if this pregnancy ends abruptly?"

And after 26 years on the planet, 20 of which I've spent worrying, what have I learned? Not a single second of my worrying has ever significantly altered my life. So why I do keep worrying? Habit, I suppose. So I guess I need one of those 12-step programs to help me kick it because I'm just as addicted to worrying as a smoker is addicted to nicotine.

Step one -- admit you have a problem:
"Hi, I'm Hyacynth, and I worry incessantly."

Step two -- get a mantra:
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?" Matthew 6: 25-27

Step three -- repeat mantra every time you worry:
See above.

Step four -- remember, you are not in control:
"Hi, I'm Hyacynth. (I think we've met before.) By the way, I'm not God, and I'm not in control of everything."

Step five -- pray to the One who is in control for help to relinquish my need for control

Step six -- repeat steps as often as needed

So in my case, I need to do these steps about 72 times per day. Maybe more.

Thank God that didn't end up being a 12-step program; I would have worried I'd never remember all of the steps.

And maybe after I practice kicking the worrying habit for a few weeks, I can get on the airplane to Florida and not try to keep it flying in the air by omitting all of my worry energy.


  1. I need to say that mantra too. I tend to worry too much also. It doesn't really help anything. Sometimes it's hard to turn the worry "off" when it comes so naturally to some of us. I try :)

  2. Thanks for resurrecting this post Hyacynth and prayers for your Dad. xo

  3. I know you posted this for yourself, but I needed to read it today. I've got tears in my eyes, lady. Love it.

  4. Hy-
    Thinking of you... lemme know if you need anything, even just to bring over dinner-

  5. Thank you for resurrecting this, I think God had you do it for me.

  6. Releasing control...something I have to remind myself several times a day, or an hour!

  7. This is a wonderful post...I'm a constant worrier myself...add in there my tendancy towards anxiety and some days I consider not leaving my house and keeping the kids locked in as well. I need to hang that mantra/verse somewhere very large in my house!

  8. I read this post a few days ago and have been thinking on it ever since. Thanks for describing so well the snowball effect of worrying and anxiety. I also worried myself through college, but a few years out, I'm now seeing that there is a point at which it becomes counterproductive. Your words were so helpful and I've left that verse on my desktop! Thanks, Katie


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AND will you pretty please have your email linked to your account or leave it for me so I can respond?

Thanks for taking the time to make these thoughts into conversation.