I’m a worrier. I’ve always been. When plans are being made, my mind immediately thinks, “‘what if” and each additional “what if” worry I come up with plays off the one before, becoming darker, more… worrisome.
A long time ago, I convinced myself that worrying beforehand helps prepare me for whatever might go wrong. Instead, it only makes me worry more. I have found, in all my years preparing for the worst, I have often failed to enjoy the best. That undercurrent of ‘what if’ is always there, pulling at me, reminding me that at any moment, the bottom can come out from under me. The interesting thing is that it never has. In all my years of worrying, my worries were all for naught.
Of course, bad things happen sometimes but those bad things are usually things I hadn’t planned for or even considered. The best-laid plans…
Worrying is like poison ivy. Pervasive. Toxic. Deceptively attractive.
Have you ever seen poison ivy in Autumn? If I didn’t know what it was, I’d say it’s quite attractive.
Worry, or planning ahead, is deceptively attractive as well because it creates in the worrier a false sense of preparedness.
Why do I compare worrying and poison ivy? Because last night I noticed a red blistery patch on my arm and went into panic mode. I just ‘knew’ I would wake this morning covered head to toe in an unbearably itchy rash. I ‘knew’ my cats had the poisoned oils on their fur because I’d cuddled them. I ‘knew’ my daughter would have it. My husband. I ‘knew’ I’d spend the next year washing every inch of my home – all the clothes, all the upholstered furniture, all the carpets, over and over – reinfecting myself as I handled items with this toxic oil that can, apparently, linger for five years if left untouched.
You know what really happened? Nothing.
Before bed, I used Benadryl ointment and I took one of my trusty antihistamine pills. This morning, I woke with a smaller, less red, less blistery patch on my arm. Yes. I have to wash clothes but it seems the poison ivy – if that’s even what I had/have – is much more contained than I had feared. At least for now.
I’ve used a lot of energy worrying about things that can go wrong. At this point in my life, I’d like to start concentrating what can go right. It’s really time to use positive ‘what if’ questions for myself and negative ‘what if’ questions for the torture of my characters.
Have you ever found yourself worried about something that never materialized or wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be?
btw – here’s a pretty good slide show of poison ivy so if you come upon it, you won’t have to worry that you won’t recognize it. 🙂
In case you’re still worried… here’s a good one page article about poison ivy: