I am done. I can’t give one more brain cell to worry, anxiety, stress or fear.
I have nothing left.
Zip. Nada. Not one millionth of a molecule of strength left to give to worrying.
It’s not that I object to endlessly obsessing over possible disasters, really. Hey, I’m a MOTHER. Worry is my stock in trade. Plus, I teach elementary school. Fear is my constant companion. I understand the role that worry plays in keeping me “on my game”. I really do!
Its just that I am tired. Totally drained and completely wrung out. There are no more worry atoms left in my tiny brain.
The two weeks leading up to Christmas used up quite a bit of my worry allotment. There was the time when I realized that I didn’t have anything for the stockings, the moment when I wondered whether the local farmer would have the turkey that I wanted and the anxiety about whether or not all three kids would in fact make it home for the holiday. There was the realization that I was coming down with something very close to strep, and would have to cancel my weekly self-indulgent visit to my Mom’s house. WORRY.
We have also had a very sick dog. One of our two beloved pooches not only has intense allergies, but she has also developed an autoimmune disease because of them. She has had general anesthesia, skin biopsies, ear cleaning and allergy testing. She is on 5 medications and a special bath. I have been worried to death that she won’t be able to overcome the staph infections and skin eruptions. I really love her! ANGST.
There were a bunch of school worries, too. If you don’t teach, you might not be aware of the fact that teachers wake up in the middle of the night worried about whether M. needs to be evaluated for a learning disability, or whether E. is becoming something of a bully. Did I find time to talk to L. this week, knowing how quiet she is? Did P. feel frustrated or challenged when I made him redo that essay because “I know you are a good writer!”? We care; ergo, we worry.
And then the holiday itself arrived, and we had our baby boy under our roof! Huzzah! Hooray! We got to hug him, chat with him, feed him! And then we got to wake up at 2 in the morning to make sure he was home safe. My worry scale ticked up a couple of notches. And stayed there.
Last Friday, I came home from school with a ten gallon tank, a heat lamp and an ailing baby tortoise, care of child number one, who would be arriving the next night. Her class pet needed babysitting for 24 hours, and I had been elected. So…. I adjusted lights, peeled a grape and kept the sphagnum moss nice and moist. But I also laid awake all night worrying that my house was too chilly for a tropical creature with an obvious ailment. And I was right to worry! The little guy died, and my worry juices began to ferment. What would I tell my daughter, and what would she tell her class? BIG WORRY.
Christmas Eve should have been a day of joy, getting ready to celebrate with family and reveling in the presence of my youngest child. But, no. The angst gods were on active duty, and my big dog (the healthy one!) came down with a sudden debilitating injury that left him limping, off balance and downcast. What do you do with an achy dog on Christmas Eve?! How can you help him when you aren’t sure what hurts, or why? GAH!
So….we tossed a little, we turned a little, we told ourselves he’d be just fine, and we tried to get some sleep. After all, it was the first Christmas Eve in 25 years that wouldn’t have an early morning wake up call! But the scary thoughts were in my head, so my dreams were full of hurt and injury.Worry, worry, worry, all night long.
Christmas day was very sweet; two of our three kids were here, and we had a huge breakfast and a restful and relaxing day. All was well as the turkey brined and the bread dough rose. We were happily awaiting the arrival of the middle child when the dog suddenly took a marked turn for the worse. He was yelping in pain, panting, lethargic. He couldn’t seem to get comfortable. The ole worry scale went from 20 to 100 in two minutes flat. NEAR PANIC.
We settled him down with an aspirin and a pillow, and had our family Christmas together. Lots of laughter, wonderful food, glasses of champagne in hand. The gifts were appreciated and enjoyed, the desserts were filling and rich. But behind it all, we worried about our poor beloved Tuck. What to do? Where to turn? WORRY!
By about 9 last night, both boys were heading out. Matt was going home, as he had to work at 5 AM today. (Is he too tired to drive? Will he get there safely? Does he feel bad that he can’t stay? WORRY!) Tim was off to spend the night at a friend’s house. (Will they be drinking? Does he have an inhaler in case there is a cat? He has a nasty cold! WORRY!).
And the dog was nearly immobile. When bedtime came, he couldn’t seem to get himself up on the couch. Paul laid out several soft pillows, draped a blanket over the poor shivering guy, and even laid down beside him for a little while, until it was clear that Tucker was at last able to sleep. What could be wrong?! I told my worried husband that the dog most likely had a pulled muscle somewhere in his back, but my crazy, worry soaked brain cried out “spinal cord tumor!” and “ruptured disk!” and “rare unnamed deadly disease!” all night long. I actually got up twice in the night to make sure he was still breathing. W-O-R-R-Y!
This morning I got up, but I felt like a scarecrow with no stuffing. My limbs were floppy and weak. My eyes were swollen. My stomach was full of butterflies (“Did Matt get to work on time?” “Is Tim feeling OK this morning?” “WHAT is wrong with my poor doggy?!”) I slurped down my coffee and tried to relax as we waited for the vet to call back.
Off to the emergency vet at noon, heart pounding, mouth dry. We were braced for surgery, chronic care….even the worst. I cradled my whimpering baby doggy in my arms on the way to the appointment. My heart was in my throat, beating painfully with each of his breaths.
Well. It turns out that Tucker has a wrenched neck, a very common doggy injury. His muscles hurt. No tumor, no disc rupture, no dread disease. Home with some medicine and an order to let him “rest”. HUGE release of pent up worry juice.
Tonight, all three kids have left the premises. The hurt dog is resting comfortably. The sick dog is looking great. Paul is reading in the recliner.
And I am DONE. Just done.
If something dreadful happens tonight, it will have to resolve itself without my worry. If the kids are sick, they’ll have to cope. If the dog feels achy, he’s gonna have to wait for his next pain pill in the morning.
If a meteor comes crashing to earth, I won’t wake up to hear it. If some crazy terrorists decide to attack the back woods of my little hometown, they’ll have to be satisfied with a muted reaction. I just don’t have it in me tonight to care.
Perhaps I have discovered the true cure for anxiety; just get yourself so worn out that you don’t have the physical ability to produce any adrenaline, and then relax. “Fight or flight”? I don’t think so. How about “sleep or snore”?