Monday, August 16, 2010

Worrying that I Worry Too Much

One of the casualties of betrayal is a sense of safety. For many of us, that safety was our marriages and our homes. Not necessarily in a dull, passionless sense (though that might be the case for some of us), but in a warm, out-of-the-harsh-world kinda way. I, for one, relied on my marriage as a haven – and my husband as the person I could trust with my heart.
And when that trust is betrayed, it wipes out that sense of safety.
In the weeks and months following D-Day, I began having panic attacks. Nothing major. Just a sense of anxiety and fear that would mount until I could move myself away from whatever was triggering it.
And now, three years post D-Day, it has manifested itself as chronic, low-grade worry.
I haven't been a worrier in years, though I confess I leaned toward worry in childhood. As child of two alcoholics, I often worried when they didn't come home when expected. Even as a kid, I understood that drinking and driving often led to disaster...and I feared that disaster would befall my family. I worried about the fighting. About divorce. About whether I would live with my mother or father.
In my twenties, however, with my mother sober, my father sober(ish) and an understanding of the effects of alcoholism on children, I was able to leave worry behind.
Quite successfully.
I became almost the opposite, convinced that bad things simply didn't happen to me. In my twisted logic, I figured I'd paid my dues. Now was time to enjoy life. I succeeded at school, found a career I loved and excelled at, travelled (often hitch-hiking to get around), got married, had kids – I felt invincible. 
And save for a few scares, such as a cancer scare with my mother, and a health scare when I was pregnant with my first daughter, I worried very little.
But now.
Now, I worry about everything. Silly things. Like horrific car accidents that wipe out my entire family. Like my daughter growing up to become a meth addict. Like my son marrying someone who hates me and cutting me out of his life. That my career is over. That menopause will render me 50 pounds heavier with a full beard.
This chronic worry crept up on me.
At first, once I learned of my husband's affairs, I worried about the obvious: that he was still involved, that he wasn't where he said he was, that there was more than he was admitting, that my marriage was doomed, that I would live out my life in drunken, pathetic squalor...
But as those worries were eased by day-to-day evidence that they weren't going to happen, a tippy-toeing anxiety took their place.
However, as I fretted last week over something that I now can't even recall, the realization hit me hard.
I've become a chronic worrier.
And I don't want to be that way. I don't want to create anxiety where it need not be. I don't want to pollute my family's environment with toxic worry.
The solution for me seems to talk to myself (I swear, I'm getting crazier by the day!) whenever I notice that I'm worrying...and remind myself that my fears are groundless. Sure we could get into a car accident that renders all of us paralyzed from the neck down and suffering from third-degree burns...but it isn't very likely.
And sure my children could grow up to become white-collar criminals, crack whores or divorce lawyers...but it isn't likely.
And sure, my husband could betray me again with someone even more wretched than the OW. But it isn't likely (or possible. She was very wretched!!)
It's one more instance where I refuse to let betrayal's long reach affect me any further.

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