It happened again last night, and after tossing and turning for an hour, I said the hell with it and just got up. Wrote a few e-mails (to colleages at 3:30 a.m. ha!), read some news, hung around until it was light enough to head out for an 8-mile run. In some rather cold (28F) weather.
Came home and slept for three hours.
I wake in the middle of the night, and my brain goes on autopilot, through a litany of worries. Sometimes I write them down. That's supposed to help, but it doesn't. I worry about work, volunteer stuff, things I've said to people, situations that cause me grief, people I've pissed off, people I'm afraid I've pissed off, peole I want to piss off, stuff I should have done but didn't, health concerns. As I sit writing this, I'm worrying that I won't get enough sleep tonight, and I'm already worrying about things I need to do Monday.
I had an epiphany on my long run this morning: I'm going to turn 51 next month, and in all my years on this planet, not ONE single moment of worrying has resulted in anything good. Or in anything at all, really. I've spent 10 years working for the same organization, pretty much worrying the entire time that I am next up for firing.
That's a lot of worrying about something that hasn't come to pass (yet).
Some other things I've worried about:
- In second grade, developed a fear that my mother would die during the day while I was at school. Teacher couldn't understand why I hurled every day and begged to go home. My mother had no tolerance for illness and couldn't stand a child staying home. So, as was probably for the best, though it felt cruel at the time, she packed me off to school each day. Not a single person ever asked me what the problem was. (Classic case of school phobia.) Eventually it stopped. Oh, and my mother is 84 and has been lingering on her deathbed now for a year. So much for that worry.
- Then I spent grade school worrying that my parents would divorce. They did.
- Throughout high school, college, and two graduate degrees, and my entire working life, I've worried that I'm not smart enough.
- When I was selected editor of my high school school newspaper, worried I wouldn't know how to manage.
- Lack of money has been a constant worry throughout my life. Somehow I seem to have managed though.
- When my marriage ended, I was worried about so many things, but specifically about what my neighbors would think. I felt a complete failure. I remember one neighbor who found out coming over to comfort me as I sat on the front porch one evening. I was so relieved. Right up until he took out his Realtor's card and told me to call him when I was ready to sell the house. I have to tell you, I lost a lot of faith in people after that incident.
- I grew up KNOWING that I could never, and would never want, to raise a child on my own. I was terrified by the prospect. And yet ... that's the position I found myself in. (When I say on my own, I'm not exaggerating. No family helped ever.) Yet, Number One Daughter is now 21. She is beautiful, a varsity athlete, Dean's List smart, went to school abroad and came back fluent, is popular, funny, organized ... stop me, please. Somehow, apparently I managed.
- Always worry when meeting new people. I'm positive I'll have nothing to say, won't be liked.
- Worry about pissing off my colleagues, or those I manage at work. I HATE to cause controversy, which is a tough thing for a manager to avoid.
What does all this worrying say about me? a) I don't trust myself to persevere, despite so much evidence to the contrary, and b) I surely don't trust God.
I have but one resolution for the new year. Just one.
I intend to change this long-established habit—because I believe that's what it is, a bad habit—of worrying. If I have to get professional help to do it, so be it.
Jeanne ≠ worry.