I am extremely good at one thing. I can do it awake, asleep, while doing ANYTHING else. I can do it when things are going well and when things are crashing down around me. I can do it better than just about anyone I know, not to brag.
It's something I've been doing since childhood, and in some ways, it's helped me survive that difficult childhood. Though it's not quite as helpful now, it remains anyway, having burned deep ruts in my brain all these years.
I am a champion worrier.
The skill that served to protect me as a child has stuck with me long after it stopped being helpful. It's so hardwired into my brain that it takes no conscious effort. In the same moment I have a hopeful or positive thought, the worry pops up to check in on the situation.
It's an ancient, primal, body sensation as well as a way of thinking. I feel it in my chest. A quickening and a tightening. It spreads to my shoulders and neck, where it turns those muscles into knots a sailor would be proud of. Sometimes, it washes through my bloodstream in the form of adrenaline and I have the cold sweats to enjoy on top of all the other delightful symptoms.
When Dave died, the worrying was stripped away by the shock. I'd had the rug pulled out from beneath me and nothing was the same, so Worrier took the bench to let this new player onto the field.
She was a bit reckless and driven by intuition. She knew that after the worst happened to her, what could be so bad? She knew that life had already handed her the shittiest deal of all, so what was there to fear now?
Once the first few weeks (maybe months) of shock began to fade away, that fearless player who had nothing left to lose, began to take the bench again to let Worrier have the field. And once again, I found myself haunted by that old habit.
At a year out, now, Worrier is back full-force. Despite abundant evidence that I'm taking good care of myself and doing just fine, Worrier doubts that and wants to protect me from any more possible pain.
She has to worry even more now that Dave is dead because his calming force is gone. If there's no one here physically to help me support myself, if it's all on me to take care of me, she has even more worrying to do.
Sometimes Worrier is so loud and convincing that I forget that she is not me.
She is a habit. A long-standing, well-worn habit. But she is not me. The true me is in there somewhere. I saw her clearly right after Dave died. She knew what to do. She knew to google "young widows", find out about Camp Widow, register, put her grief-ravaged butt on that plane and go to where her people were. She didn't worry or hesitate.
I got a glimpse of her again, when she decided to sell the house Dave and I adored. The Worrier campaigned for the safety of staying put, but True Me acted anyway.
The Worrier is truly out to help and protect me, she just has a skewed view of life. She's actually about 5, has just lost her mommy and has a sad, drunk, complex, and scary man for a Daddy. She wants to be safe and sound above all.
The True Me knows that nothing can protect me from the pain of this life. The True Me knows that if we let the Worrier have her way, we'll live a narrow, sad little life.
So, the Worrier and the True Me fight it out day and night. But the more I can separate the two and label The Worrier as a habit and not me, the better. The more I choose to do scary things and see that the world doesn't end and I land on my feet, the better.
True Me just has to show Worrier lots and lots of evidence that we'll be okay, no matter what.
True Me has to wrap Worrier up in her arms and say to that terrified little girl that it'll all be okay in the end so she can take a little break from worrying and rest for once.