I have always worried a lot. The subject matter is not consistent. Sometimes it focuses on money, sometimes health of loved ones, safety, social faux pas, engagements, responsibilities, and on and on it goes. Sometimes the worries are centered on subject matter so trivial and other times they are about life altering issues. The only thing that they have in common is that they seem to have a life of their own becoming insurmountable concerns gathering strength, especially powerful in the middle of the night. Usually with the sunrise comes a glimmer of relief. The solution to these worries, so elusive just a few hours before, seem attainable at last. Most of the things that keep my adrenaline pumping in the predawn hours seem less important once daylight arrives. I know this and sometimes even attempt to self sooth by telling myself that things always seem worse at night and to fall back asleep and wait for the morning to clear my head. Unfortunately this is seldom successful and I still can not fight the dreaded anxiety that plagues some of my nights. That is not to suggest that worry is not a part of my day. Despite this, I am not crippled by it, just mildly handicapped. In fact, most days I do not consciously notice that I am worrying. It is just a part of my complex quasi-type A personality. I am a planner. Open ended issues do not sit well with me. If there is a problem I like to dissect it to bits and tackle it with black and white solutions. The “let’s let the chips fall where they may, or cross that bridge when we come to it” attitude gives me anxiety. It is because of this that I find myself making hasty decisions and sometimes reacting too powerfully to situations that would have been better handled with some time to contemplate a measured response.
My dog is dying. That is to say that she is a 13 year old Labrador retriever who has limbs that can barely carry her and a spleen the size of a grapefruit. I love her more than any words can express. I walked into my vet’s office announcing through my sobs that I know time is short and suffering is not an option. The vet looked her over, did some tests and confirmed that my Lucy could have a couple of days or even weeks left. I brought her home and commenced to grieve furiously. It is now a frenzy of hugging, holding and stroking her constantly. I refuse to leave her in the house alone for fear that she may feel abandoned and lonely in her “dying” state. I announced to my husband and my teenage daughter that Lucy would not be with us for long and although their love is no less than mine, they are able to pat her head and enjoy her companionship without the lead weights of sorrow taking the joy out of every moment spent with her. It is my obsessive worrying that is holding me down where I must gasp for air. I question what it is that I am worrying about. I already know the inevitable. Yes, Lucy will leave and there will be a void. I will miss her. She will not suffer. I won’t allow it. That is a benefit that animals have over humans when they are cared for by a loving family who are able to help facilitate their departure from life. I do not have to make a black and white decision about when she goes. I will not burden myself with the second guessing of a hasty closure to her life because I can’t bear the worry. She will let me know. Worrying implies a fear of the unknown. Here there is no unknown. I know. It is the realization that worry does not apply. Grief is premature. This epiphany releases me to see worry for what it is. It is a thief of time and joy.
Of course knowing and feeling are so disconnected from one another. The only way that I can truly eradicate this worry burden is to remind myself that it is robbing me of a lovely bittersweet time with someone that I love. Joy, pain, love, and grief are necessary and inevitable. Worry is a choice. This I believe.