What Keeps Me up at Night?

WordPress Post A Week 2011 topic suggestion #56: 

What keeps me up at night?

Ummm…it might be easier to list the things that don’t keep me up at night:

  • Tornadoes – it’s a good thing the hubby is a light sleeper
  • The dog barking
  • Wondering who got kicked off American Idol – our family is Idoled out.
  • Wondering if my husband will like the dusty purple paint color I have picked for our kitchen. He will love it as soon as he sees it.
  • What I’m going to fix for dinner this week
  • Wondering about the Kardashians and how they are doing in New York
  • My awesome kids – they are really good ones!
  • My awesome hubby – 20 years this year. I got a great one!
  • If Charlie Sheen will get his kids back

Okay, the stuff that does keeps me up at night, here we go:

  • Paying for college beginning in the Fall of 2012
  • Money in general – Are we saving enough? What do our retirement accounts look like? What if we have a medical emergency? Are we too much in debt?
  • What I’m going to do with myself going forward
  • Worrying about my driving daughter when she is out
  • What disaster is lurking around the corner that would cause one of us to lose our jobs
  • I really need to exercise more – how can I make a routine?
  • Do we need new windows? If so, how do we pay for them?
  • The Middle East – I’ve got to stop watching the news! (I don’t want gas prices to hinder our trek across America this summer. Plus, will Khaddafy (sp?) do chemical warfare on his own people?)
  • One of my daughters’ math grade (shall remain unnamed).
  • If my husband’s company will continue doing well (I should leave that worry to the hubs).
  • Dexter – Maddie’s bird. Poor thing.
  • My boy’s baby teeth – they just aren’t falling out on their own.  What is up with that? Will we have to have them pulled? How much will that cost?
  • Losing our Health Insurance
  • How we are going to avoid Bed Bugs when we go on our vacation
  • Blah, Blah…..

There is no rhyme or reason to what makes the list.  Once I get it in my head, it won’t go away unless it gets resolved. As you can tell from the list, most of these items are just ongoing thoughts that I can’t really do anything about and most will remain unresolved!

Well, they just had to ask, didn’t they?!

How do people keep these thoughts from swirling around in their heads all of the time? Late at night it’s just me and my swirling thoughts.

I will say that once I do get to sleep (I generally stay up too late), it’s like raising the dead in the morning. My husband laughs because I hit the snooze exactly 3 times every morning and then I get up.

How do you calm the mind?

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!

If I had my life to live over, I would perhaps have more actual troubles but I’d have fewer imaginary ones.  ~Don Herold          

Worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere.  ~Glenn Turner          

Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weights you down.  ~Toni Morrison      

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.  ~Mark Twain           

Per Wikipedia, anxiety is “a future-oriented mood state in which one is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events.”  

Recently, I’ve been mulling over my increasing anxiety about, well, life.  The anxiety scale ranges from blissfully ignorant (1) to obsessive worrier (10) and I have named the midpoint MWE (my husband’s initials).  It’s appropriate because he seems to have the right combination of worry and “let it be”.  I’m constantly striving to be at the MWE point on this scale, but I’m failing on fairly regular basis.  I hover around 8 or 9 which equates to “Cuckoo”.   

Last Friday morning’s Therapy Breakfast meeting provided me with some food for thought on this topic (besides my standing order of french toast and bacon!).  It was basically the nature vs nurture discussion which I always find fascinating.  You know, birth order, environment, DNA, etc.  This led to a discussion of “Why do some people repeat the perceived parenting mistakes of their own parents? ” And “Why do some people break the mold?”  For example, if your mother was critical of everything you did and you hated it, why are you doing it to your own children?  Or Why are you making a conscious effort not to be critical?  

We came to the conclusion that it had to do with the ability to be introspective.  Either you have it or you don’t.  We all know the people in our lives that clearly do not possess this ability – it’s just not within their grasp.     

Now, I’m not trying to brag, but I possess the ability of introspection – I can go on ad nauseum of why I am the way I am (just ask my breakfast buddies!).  I can make my own head spin if I’m not careful!  This skill has been honed over the years as I’ve tried to figure out  why I have the freakish need to control everything, why I see the peril in every scenario, why had the pathological need to get straight A’s in school, why I was/am afraid of failure, etc.  I’m especially interested now because my anxiety seems to be getting worse.  Is it because I’m an adult now with three kids, a marriage, a mortgage, a dog,  impending college expenses, and the fact that I see imminent danger peeking around every corner?    
Well, my husband also exists in this same realm  – how come the hubby doesn’t feel the same level of anxiety?    
Some people in my life think I can just shut this off.  “Why are you worried  about it?  You can’t change anything!”   “Oh, really?  I thought I could control everything. Well, shoot!  You know what?  I was getting really tired of feeling anxious all of the time so I’ll just stop the worrying right this very second!  Thanks for the info!”    
Is it wrong to envy people that go through life swimming around in the blissfully ignorant end of the pool?  We all know a few of these people in our lives, don’t we?  I can feel smug because they really don’t know what real life is like, but what does that get me?  They seem really happy and mostly stress-free . . . . .Ugh!  They can really get on my nerves!   
Why am I swimming toward the deep end of the pool? Who really knows!? But it’s obviously a combination of multiple things – people are complicated!     

Birth Order – I am the first born and, as I’ve said before, I think I possess every trait listed in any book about birth order.  Compliant Traits – People Pleasers, Crave Approval, Nurturers, Caregivers, Reliable, Concientious, Cooperative, Team Players, “Grin and bear it” mentality / Aggressive Traits –  Natural Leaders, Perfectionists, Driven, Conventional, Always have things under control, Want things their way.      

Genetics – I come from a long line of professional worriers – my mother, my mother’s mother (I think they were all the first-borns, hmmmm).  I could tell you stories to back this up, but they aren’t that exciting.  

Environment – Our house growing up was very chaotic and unpredictable.  This definitely intensified my need to try to control every facet of my surroundings.   

Since I do recognize most of my shortcomings, I’m definitely working toward creating a stable, predictable, “normal” household for our three children.  Of course, with High Anxiety Mommy, it can be a challenge!   As I’m trying to “break the mold”, I’m sure I’m also creating some unintended environmental landmines for my kids to discuss in therapy when they get older.  What are parents for anyway, right?!

Carpe Diem (but wear your seatbelt)!