Hello. My name is Nonny and I am a compulsive worrier. I spent years fussing about a past that can’t be changed and a future which can’t be predicted. The constant time travel prevented me from spending any quality time in the present.
Like many compulsive worriers, my worries started small. The hot trading commodities of my elementary school lunchroom were Hostess Ding Dongs and Ho Hos. I worried because my lunch box contained sliced apples and little boxes of raisins, which were worthless for serious lunchroom traders.
I came from a family of social worriers and realized at a young age I was different. They never understood me and I never understood them. So, I learned not to voice all my worries.
Turned out not many worried about how clean their nostrils were when visiting the dentist, or how bridges stayed up. Being from the Bay Area I knew it was because I held my breath and worried the Bay Bridge stayed above water. When I heard the Golden Gate Bridge swung side-to-side, I knew stronger measures were called for — so I held my breath, worried, and gripped the car seat. (See, I knew what I was doing, both bridges are still standing!)
I gave myself dedicated worry time (though I almost always went over). For 15 minutes a day, I worried about the big things, like nuclear explosions and forgetting to put a can opener in the bomb shelter; the farfetched things — when introduced to the Queen of England, was I to bow my head, curtsy or shake her hand; and the irrelevant, what if I ever needed a therapist, found one I liked, and he or she moved out of state?
I told myself I had my worrying under control and could stop anytime I wanted. I couldn’t. It kept getting worse.
I began hiding my worries, with secret stashes at home, school, and even friends’ houses. (Bathrooms and libraries were best.)
Sleep presented a problem, all those worries I clamped down and squashed during the day floated out giving me nightmares. I was exhausted.
On those rare occasions I didn’t have a dedicated worry, I worried I’d overlooked an “important” worry.
Like many compulsive worriers I had no sense of humor. I, like so many of you here today, viewed life as serious business. I was not to be mistaken for those fools who flit around from thing to thing, laughing, smiling, having a good time and thinking life is fun. Hah! A pox on them. They’ll get theirs.
Before you worry about how much you are or aren’t laughing, be assured, sticking with the 13-step program will see you through. (Worrier’s Anonymous added the additional step to the 12-Step Program, just-in-case.)
Rock bottom was the day I learned I was pregnant. I called my husband, only to blurt out in one long breath, “The test was positive. I’m pregnant. How will we pay for the orthodontist?” There was a long silence before my husband quietly asked, “Don’t you think we should have the baby first? Maybe even wait for teeth?”
At that moment I realized the absurdity of my worrying. Never had a worry came to pass (my worries were too far out there). When things happened I hadn’t worried about, I got through them. I vowed then and there I was not going to burden my unborn child with all my worries. (After all, I already knew he or she needed orthodontia.)
I reached out and Worrier’s Anonymous offered a helping hand.
Since that life changing day many years ago, I have been a part of this wonderful organization. And while I have (on occasion) stumbled and fallen, with the encouragement of others who’ve been where I’ve been and who offer unconditional support, I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off, and gotten back on track.
Through it all, I have learned to take life one day at a time or one hour at a time. On occasion I take things one minute at a time.
In conclusion let me leave you with a final thought.
Dale Carnegie once asked Henry Ford if he, Ford, ever worried. Ford’s reply was “No. I believe God is managing affairs and that he doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge I believe that everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?”
What indeed? Thank you.
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