The Worry Machine

It’s nice to have a list of personal shortcomings to attend to.  My list is endless.  I tend to deal with them one at a time because it’s mostly a matter of changing my habits.  It takes time to make a permanent habit change; usually by that time I’ve racked up another new one. Don’t bother pointing them out to me.  I know, I know…

A fun family tradition, hailing directly from my depressed mother, is over-worrying.  This is a distinctly feminine tradition, which usually is centered on worrying about children.  There is probably some genetic reason for this.  Most likely it’s to hasten the death of the mother so the kids can get her stuff.  Otherwise, I know (mentally, but not the in-my-heart kinda know) that there is no good reason to worry about children who are hours away or half a continent away.  It’s just not doing any damn good.  I can pray, but I think God has a handle on matters though I offer up a prayer or two, and I should let up on him and not nag him all night.  The latter shows a lack of faith, right?  That said, I think it’s normal for me to have concerns about my adult children, but not to spend hours in worry about their safety or jobs or love lives or whatever…It does nothing to improve their situations.  It may even distance them from me.  I remember my mom having the “worry finger,” which drove me absolutely to the defensive berserk when I saw it.  She would put her right index finger to her lips as she spoke, and it would often twitch.  “Sheesh,” my teenage self would whine, “Get a grip!”  I don’t think I’ve developed such a physical tick yet, but I have an i-tick.  I initiate stupid texting conversations when I’m worried about my kids.  If they don’t respond, I’m certain that a lunatic has them entrapped in his evil dungeon.  (Sadly, we have all seen the news reports about this happening, but it’s rare…)

Anyway, my worry machine was starting to overheat.  Its gears started to turn as soon as my first baby had jaundice.  Dammit–a very typical infant experience, but it set in motion the machine that would never stop.  For 1/1/14 to 2/2/14 (notice something? more on that later), I decided to invoke the power of the mental rubber band snap to force myself to simply STOP and be aware when it kicked into high gear.  The  mental rubber band had been exercised before when I had been in need of leaving work at work.  As a reminder, I left a Charlie pass (Boston’s public transportation ticket) on the seat of my car when I parked at work in the morning.  It served as a reminder that when I climbed into that car again, I was leaving all of work behind.  If I’d start to ruminate on any work problem again, I’d snap the mental rubber band and divert my attention to doing something else (also slightly reminiscent of the Dog Whisperer waving a “bully stick” in front of a puppy’s nose, though I’d prefer to refocus without bullies, personally, because once I found out what a bully really is…let’s just say no one better put one under my nose).  Anyway, the MRB worked for work.  It also stopped my worrying about kids, BUT…

The strange thing about killing such a long-entrenched habit mixed with parental love is that something filled the gap: guilt.  Guilt? Really?!!  Can’t you just go away?  I felt guilty for not worrying about my kids.  It was as if I wasn’t fulfilling some parental duty. After a night of NOT worrying, I’d wake up in the morning actually feeling good, and then guilt would kick me in the head and say, “Why aren’t you obsessing about your daughter/son?!!  You forgot your child!  Bad mom.  Bad!”  So I had to drive away guilt.  Stupid guilt.  SNAP!  And I did.

Still a week until 2/2, when I switch to some other part of my life that needs attention.  That gives me one week more to practice.  Kaizen, baby!!!



~ by rebuildingholly on January 26, 2014.

2 Responses to “The Worry Machine”

  1. Good for you. What an admirable and inspiring pursuit.

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