Worrying

The day I told my mom I was pregnant, she said, “Welcome to the first day of worrying for the rest of your life.” She wasn’t wrong. By then, worry was a common thing for me. Motherhood just amplified it. Worry was a constant companion since I was young. What I worried about was always changing, but nothing was exempt. I think it’s very common- especially if you have experienced trauma. As I grow and expand, I view worrying differently. In fact, now it’s easier for me to just observe instead of react. Here are some thoughts about worrying that have come to me recently. The things worrying didn’t do for me.

Worrying doesn’t change the outcome. A common worry I have had since my early twenties is about finances. Well, I can tell you, worrying never put money in the bank. Worrying didn’t lower my debt. Worrying didn’t pay any bills. Worrying didn’t fix broken cars, put food on the table or clothe my family.

Worrying doesn’t change global events. If you watch the news at all, you will notice how we are completely bombarded with tragic stories and images. Worrying didn’t stop 9/11. Worrying didn’t stop wars. Worrying doesn’t stop ignorance, division, racism or inequality. Worrying doesn’t stop hatred,  crime or acts of violence. Worrying doesn’t change environmental issues or social injustice.

Worrying doesn’t lessen the blow. I have worried about numerous things in my life. Most of those things never even transpired. But there were events that occurred for me personally, that I never saw coming. Worry did not stop these events from occurring. And I can tell you, if I had worried about those events, it would not have lessened the blow it dealt. Worrying did not help me when I found my stepfather dead. Worrying did not help me when my brother-in-law was killed in Iraq. Worrying did not help me any time I experienced the loss of a loved one. Worrying didn’t lessen or stop any ounce of pain surrounding these life experiences.

Worrying doesn’t quicken the process. Often I just want to get through any discomfort as quick as possible. Responsibilities, bills, illness, car trouble, house maintenance, insurance issues, details, home management, etc. No matter the subject, worrying doesn’t help me move through it faster. In fact, I noticed it just prolongs the discomfort.

Worrying doesn’t help me move forward. Joyce Meyer once said, “Worrying is like a rocking chair….always in motion but not going anywhere.” Worrying expels tremendous energy but has no positive result. Worrying holds you in place, keeps you stuck, diminishes growth and often evades positive outcomes.

Worrying doesn’t help me make good decisions. I think the root of worrying is fear. I’ve lived long enough that I also think making decisions out of fear aren’t always the best decisions we can make. Fear, like worry, is completely made up in our head. Thankfully, we have control over what we think.

“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27. NOPE. Not one. Worrying is a thief. It will steal your time, your energy, your focus, your dreams, your hope. Worrying will kill you if you let it.

Worry still creeps up within me. But at this point in my life, instead of a close confidant, worry has become a brief visitor. I observe it as it makes it’s appearance. I acknowledge it, then firmly dismiss it, as it no longer has power over me. One of my favorite quotes that helps me usher out my unwelcome guest: “Stop worrying about what can go wrong and get excited about what can go right.” Amen!

~April

Podcast Conversation

In September of 2018, I had a conversation with my friend Thomas for his podcast: RISE/Inner Monologue. The story I chose to speak about was my most life defining: finding my stepfather dead from a prescription drug overdose when I was 13.

I’m not afraid of public speaking, to talk in general or to tell my story. Over the past thirty years, I’ve talked about it with numerous people. But to talk about it in this forum made me nervous and anxious. How many people would hear it? Who would hear it? It would be out there FOREVER.

I chose to do the podcast with the intention of helping others. Maybe my story or something I said would resonate with someone. I wanted to be open and honest and (in spite of the fear). The episode (162) aired yesterday and I am so happy I did it! I am grateful for the opportunity I was given to share. I did what I set out to do- I showed up and shared authentically.

If you haven’t listened to his podcast yet, I encourage you to do so. He has a different guest every week. Awesome people of various backgrounds making a great impact in the world!

~April

http://www.risephoenix.org/

 

Change

A few weeks ago my husband and I found out his job may be changing due to a company merger. As in- he might not have a job. I told myself many cliché phrases: When a door closes, another opens. An ending is just a new beginning. It will all work out. I’ve lived long enough and went through enough life experiences to know all of those phrases are true statements. But that doesn’t mean fear doesn’t present itself.

I went through weeks of repeating these phrases when I felt fear rise up within me.  Through the first couple of weeks, I just swept the news under the rug. I’m busy and avoidance seemed just fine, too. Then the other day my husband shared more information with me that solidified the impending doom. Now it wasn’t just a rumor or assumption. There was physical evidence to back up the fear. I felt the fear bubble within my gut, slowly moving through my abdomen, through my chest then to my throat. I held it there- fighting back the worry and anxiety. Then I broke.

Now, it showed itself in a way that I describe as an adult equivalent to a toddler tantrum. I cried to my co-worker (Oh yeah, I was at work when I melted down. *rolling eyes here*). I was saying things like, “Life isn’t fair!”, “This isn’t what I signed up for!”, “I’m so tired of getting nowhere!”, “We work so hard for so little in return!”. Then I asked questions like, “Why can’t we catch a break?!”, “What do we have to do to get ahead?!”, “Why do others have it so easy?!”, “When will it end?!”. I emotionally ruptured. In the following days, I processed my outburst.

Here’s the deal- I flipped out over a simple thing. Change. That’s all it is. Change. Most of us hate it, because it causes uncertainty. A lot of us hate uncertainty because we don’t want to experience uncomfortable circumstances. But change is inevitable. We experience it every day. Alexi Panos once said, “You need to learn to fall in love with uncertainty.” Change affects all of us, but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing.

Another contributor? Expectations. We create expectations in our mind and then fall apart again in our mind when things don’t turn out the way we expected. Or wanted. Or hoped for. When I attended birth classes while I was pregnant, the facilitator told us to have our birth plans prepared- and then be ready to throw them out the window. I created a birth plan: I wanted to not be induced. I wanted to have a natural delivery with no epidural. I wanted to hold my child immediately after birth. I wanted to breast feed right away. Well, the plan got thrown out the window. I was induced because I never dilated. I had an epidural because 20 hours later I ran a temperature and they needed to take my daughter via C-section. I didn’t get to hold her or breast feed immediately because of said C-section. You know what? It all worked out. It didn’t go according to plan (like most things in life), but the outcome was good. Actually, it was great!

Another thing I realized is fear is valid. It’s ok to have fear. It’s normal. But we can’t live there. We can’t allow it to take root and grow. Everything I proclaimed to my co-worker that day were not true statements or questions. They were the product of the fear I was feeling. Acknowledge the fear, feel the fear, then talk to it. I imagined something like this: “I see you fear. I feel you. I hear you loud and clear. But I refuse to let you run the show.” We may not have a choice in everything that happens, but we definitely have a choice in how we react to it.

There is an excellent book by Allison Carmen titled, “The Gift of Maybe”. It is a small, potent book with simple exercises on how to unravel the downward spiral of thoughts like I experienced that day. What I took from reading her book actually assisted me in pulling out of the spiral quicker than I would have years- or even months- ago. Maybe this career change is a blessing in disguise. Maybe my husband will make more money than he is now. Maybe he will have a job he loves. Maybe he will be home with his family more. Maybe there is nothing to be afraid of at all.

I’m not saying don’t have hopes, dreams, goals or plans. I’m saying have them- and get ready to throw them out the window. The world is changing on a daily basis. We (I) need to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Fall in love with uncertainty. Hope for the best and understand when the change happens, it maybe even better than I imagined.

-April