If worrying were an Olympic sport, I would have a Gold medal. Literally. Get it?
Anyways…Over the last several weeks, I was involved in a very stressful “this could change your life in profound ways” situation. I tried as best as I could to stay cool about it. I went about my usual business, working, working out, taking care of house and yard and pups, talking to friends and family, eating, watching bad TV and Jane Austen movies on a loop. All that jazz. But I was definitely stressed out and worried about what would happen, and it manifested itself in several ways. I said a couple of really stupid, thoughtless things to people I love. I broke out in a rash. And I could NOT sleep. I tried every known remedy, from increased exercise, to reading children’s books before bed, on to Melatonin, and finally, prescription sleep aids. Nothing worked. Even if I was able to fall asleep, I would have terrible nightmares, and then wake up after an hour or so, unable to fall asleep again for the night.
Finally, the situation resolved. Unfortunately, not in my favor. I was extremely disappointed, but there was a small part of me that was actually relieved, because at least I knew what was going to happen. As in nothing. And as bad as that was, I figured I could finally dial down the anxiety and get back to my usual level of mildly neurotic worrying.
But it didn’t happen. The switch had been flipped. To illustrate: a few days ago, city tree trimmers were on my street, finally trimming the hugely overgrown Magnolia trees that line our street. Except, a car was parked in front of my house, owner unknown. The tree trimmers told me they would have to skip my house and come back “some other time” because they couldn’t work around the car. You would have thought this was a crisis. It totally wasn’t, but I fretted and sweated and cursed over this like it was a big deal. Like it would impact my life in a profound way. Ridiculous. And you know what happened? After about an hour, someone came and got the car and my trees got trimmed. Did I learn a lesson? Nope. I moved on to worry about other things.
I’m worried about Ebola. I’m sad and worried about what’s been happening in Ferguson, MO. I’m worried about that homeless guy Miley had accept her VMA award. I’m worried about the drought and the 15’ surf, and the fact that we can invent an app for just about everything but we can’t channel the surf to fix the drought. Oh, and I’m worried that they say another El Nino is coming.
I’m worried that none of my old work clothes seem to fit, and even though I weigh less than I did a year ago, my pants all seem tighter. I’m worried about the odd lump that has just sprung up on my left wrist.
I don’t have children; God knows I would worry about them all the time. But, I do have nieces and nephews that I adore, and although they are each practically perfect in their own way, there’s just enough wiggle room there, yep, for me to worry about them.
I’m worried about making my exorbitant COBRA payments. I’m worried about what will happen when my COBRA coverage ends.
I’m worried about planes. Planes disappearing. Planes being shot down. Planes reducing their seat sizes so drastically that I will have to pay an oversize fee simply for my size 10 feet the next time I fly. I’m oddly not worried about sharks attacking a plane, killing the pilots and snacking on assorted passengers, although I understand that can happen, or at least I heard it happened to a cousin, that one time.
I worry that I can’t sleep. I can’t sleep, because I’m worried.
It needs to stop. But how? How do I break this very bad habit? Therapy? Pharmaceuticals? Just saying No?
As in so many things, I seek guidance through the mighty Google. I type in “how to stop worrying” in the search bar. Hmmmm, 14,400,000 results. That’s a lot of worriers out there! At least I’m not alone, one less thing to worry about already. I click on the web.md link, because hey, they’re doctors, right? And they have a list of 9 techniques to stop worrying. I won’t give you the whole list, you can look it up yourself if you need to (and take comfort in knowing you’re not alone, 14,399,999 people are right there with you, plus, oh yeah, me). But here’s the one I think makes the most sense:
No 7. Remember that it’s never as bad as you think it will be. Anxiety or worry is all about anticipation. The ‘what ifs’ are always way worse than how you feel when something actually happens. “Worriers tend to worry about things that even if they happen, they can handle it,” Leahy* says. “Worriers are actually good at handling real problems.”
I like this! It’s true, I have never encountered a real life problem that I couldn’t handle, and trust me, I’ve had some doozies! Everything eventually works out the way it’s supposed to. I know this, I believe this, I live this. So, I’m going to re-embrace that mantra and get on with things. Hell, I’ll stitch it on a sampler if I need to, and hang it up on a wall. I’m tired of worrying, and tired of being tired. There’s far better ways to spend my time. Not sure exactly what those ways are, but I’ll worry about that later.
The end, for now
*Identified in the Web.md article as Bruce Levin, MD, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., but later referred to as “Leahy.” Hmmm, worrisome!
My name is Kathi. KATHI. Pronounced just like…Kathi. Okay, okay, pronounced like Cathy. Or Kathy. Or, Kath-eeeee. It’s not an unusual name. According to the Urban Dictionary, Kathi is:
the kind of person who tends to care for others more than themselves. Kathi is the kind of person who may not think the highest of themselves; but is the sweetest, caring, most beautiful person inside and out whether they believe it or not. Kathi’s are very artistic and creative. They also have an edge to them, you definitely don’t want to get on their bad sides, cause they will kick your ass so bad your ancestors will feel it!
How’s that for impressive? My gosh, I’m positively blushing. Of course, The Urban Dictionary might not be the most official source of information, but unfortunately, there’s no Wikipedia entry for poor little Kathi.
Here’s the thing. Unlike many Kathy’s, my name is not a nickname or a shortening of Katherine or Kathleen. It’s just Kathi. And, to add insult to injury (or parental abuse to parental abuse, sorry Mom), my middle name is Sue. Yup, that’s right. Not Susan, or Susannah, just Sue. So, in other words, my parents didn’t love me enough to give me two real names. I was their first, long awaited, long desired, beautiful daughter and I got bubkiss! Or Kathi. Or Kathi Sue.
You would think I would be over this by now; after all I’ve had 52 years to live with it. And I basically am, having reconciled myself long ago to a lifetime of not being able to find those tiny little license plates that you would put on your bike spelling out your name. But here’s the problem. No-one ever spells my name right. I’m not kidding about this; I once got a birthday card from my MOTHER with my name spelled Kathy. Maybe she was being ironic, but I don’t think so.
Sorry, back to the point. And the point is, not only can no-one ever spell my name right, but it is frequently mispronounced. I guess I could forgive the random repairman who sees it written and says, thank you for your business Katie. I get Katie a lot. I happen to love the name Katie, so that’s not too bad. But since when is “ath” pronounced “ate”? It’s weird.
But what’s even weirder are the other variations of my name that I get. I’m going to take some responsibility here, apparently my very special speech pattern is almost inaudible to humans and dogs alike. Before you laugh, I’ll share that I had to attend a speech therapist when I was four years old. Now don’t you feel bad? And they did a good job, because I talk a lot! Every day. But I guess they didn’t think they had to cover the whole name thing.
Because when I, say, phone in a takeout order (a regular occurrence), I know I cannot expect to pick it up under my name. It won’t be there. But if I go to the counter and say, pick up for Callie, voila, there’s my taco! Or, hi I called in for Kaffee. Here you go, have a BLT. By far, the most frequent misnomer is Campy! Which is simply adorable by the way, but who the hell is named Campy? Why would you assume what you were hearing would be Campy instead of Kathi (or Kathy, which sounds just the same and was ranked in 2005 as the 888th most popular girls name)?
I found that last little stat on Wikipedia, where of course I had to look under Kathy, since Kathi was not to be found (the bastards!). And I was somewhat interested to know that Kathy’s popularity had dropped significantly since its heyday in 1958, when it was the No. 14 name of baby girls. But here’s the most disturbing thing I read on that page:
According to The Baby Name Personality Survey by Bruce Lansky and Barry Sinrod (1990), people imagine a Kathy to be “a small dark-haired woman who is quiet, friendly, and very kind.” The name Kathy spelled with a “C” conjures a different image, according to the survey.
What the what? Well, now I’m glad my name is spelled with the almighty I. Because I may be friendly, and I try to be kind, but small, dark and quiet are not attributes that have ever been ascribed to me. I almost want to find Bruce and Barry and kick their asses so bad their ancestors feel it! It’s what a Kathi would do. Or a Campy! She’s a badass too.
The end, for now