I’m Gonna Worry About Me

When a person I care about does something I don’t agree with, I become overly vocal. I force myself opinions on them so they know exactly why they are wrong. Not all the time, only when something feels crucial. Taking on stress from others causes me great anxiety. It’s as if I’m trying to prevent them from making a big mistake.

Why do I do this?

Because I hate when I fail, of course. When plans don’t pan out, I fall off the happy path and down a deep dark hole of anxiety. Then my mind experiments with “what if” scenarios.

  • What if I did this differently? Could I have prevented this?
  • What could I have done to avoid this?
  • Why didn’t this work out?
  • Why am I so stupid?

I don’t mean to be the person who inserts themselves in others’ lives when they don’t ask for it. Actually, I loathe when people do it to me. So much so, that those who voice their unwanted opinions are the same people I avoid. Too many talking heads aimed in my direction adds to my stress and anxiety.

I know I deserve to worry about myself as much as I worry about others. Recently a few people in my life have had some major life-changing events that have caused me to spiral into worry. I was losing sleep and could feel them pulling away when I tried to warn them of their mistakes. So, instead of focusing on their problems I decided to turn around and look at my own. 

My intentions are good but the outcome is almost never good. I’ve been projecting my own fears and failures onto others. It’s easy to get wrapped up in other people’s drama so I can avoid my own.

Wow, being honest about all this stings a little. I should be smarter, more capable of seeing what my actions do, and find a better way to resolve things before I damage a relationship. 

Anxiety’s been a big player in my life since my late teens. In my early forties, I’ve learned to shut it down quicker than in the past. Practice, patience, and never giving up allows me to give anxiety the middle finger. It may not resolve a quickened heartbeat or flush of dizziness, but I look at anxiety in the face and move on once the grip has lessened. 

I have enough personal anxiety to last me. There is no reason to take on stress from others. Especially when it has no real effect on my life. Furthermore, I’d like to keep the friends I have. In the future, when I can tell my concern is falling on deaf ears, I’m going to step back. I’m opinionated. People ask me for advice and I’m going to keep giving it to them. Though now I think I’ll look for their hesitation and learn when to shut my mouth. 

 

 

Melisa Peterson Lewis is a blogger at Fingers To Sky with over two-hundred personal essays, book reviews, gardening, and details on her writing process as she works through her first sci-fi novel. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

 

 

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Nightmares While I’m Awake

I lay in bed, my brain twisting with horrible thoughts. This weekend my husband takes two of our small children to a baseball game without me because I’ll stay home with the baby. A thousand scenarios race through my mind days before they leave. I can’t sleep and know I won’t be able to until they are home.

Someone could try to kidnap one of my children. There could be a bomb. My husband could be robbed at gunpoint in front of them. He could be hurt or killed.

My legs twitch and the pit in my stomach grows. Why do I do this? Worst case stories pile up. Which one is the worst? Because that’s the one I’ll play from start to finish multiple times. I hate myself for allowing these images to take over.

They could get in a car accident, killing everyone, leaving me with no family. There could be a random shooter.  

At therapy, this is explained to me as irrational thinking. My anxiety revs up when things are out of my control and I allow the news to intertwine with life. Does it help that my mother in law used to send me articles about children being snatched from grocery stories when their mothers turned their back for just a minute? No. And I’ve asked her to stop sending those. She just sent me an article about bacteria in the ocean killing people, though. I’m not sure we’ve made progress.

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They could be crossing the street and someone could run a red light. One of my kids could wander away and my husband wouldn’t notice because he’s preoccupied.

How do I turn this off? I don’t know if I can. I tell myself it’s irrational, but then a voice in my head tells me, “But these things really happen to people!” An attempt is made to silence the voice from continuing hounding me with horrible ideas.

Sunburn! Sure, it’s not as bad, but what if my husband forgets the sunscreen. Worse, they could accidentally fall off the top balcony.

Let the thoughts come in because trying to stop them causes me more anxiety. Recognize them, then figure out where they are coming from. In this case, it’s a lack of control. I won’t be there to watch after my babies (ages four and seven). My very capable husband will be companied by his father and another friend (albeit the friend has a 4-year-old also). The adults equal the number the children, which eases my worry, slightly. The scenarios anxiety comes up with play through like a train going over a crossing.

They could eat too much junk food and throw up in the car, coming homesick. Someone could flash them. I’ve been flashed in the city multiple times, the first time when I was their age. It’s not something you forget.  

I tell myself to see my thoughts. Let them pass, wave them goodbye, have hope, know the likelihood is everything will be fine. My children drive me crazy, but they are my life. I’m not always the best mom, but I’m pretty sure that definition is unattainable. Especially for an overactive thinker and anxious driven woman such as myself.

They will have a great time. They will be part of a parade of little leaguers and get to walk the bases. They will love this special time with their dad. He will feed them cotton candy and they will come home wired, maybe a little sunburn, and probably asking me about panhandlers.

Deep breath. I can’t control everything. Life would be boring and too predictable if I could, but truth be told. If I could put a magic protective bubble around my family, I would do anything to do so. Anxiety runs deep, affecting me in so many ways. Out of sight out of mind? Not when your anxiety fills in all the blanks for you.

Melisa Peterson Lewis is a blogger at Fingers To Sky with over two-hundred personal essays on book reviews, insights on aspiring to complete her first novel, and some good ol’ fashion soul searching. Follow her on Facebook or Instagram, she’ll follow you back and not delete you.

Featured Photo by Eduardo Balderas on Unsplash

Other Photo by Max Bender on Unsplash

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My Aging Body Image

I sit at the public pool, it’s Ladies Night, and I’m surrounded by women I know. One of them is a school teacher who tells us about a body image lesson she is teaching her class. She tells us the average sized woman is five foot, four inches tall. The average weight is one hundred and forty pounds and wears a size fourteen in US women’s clothing. My first reaction is to compare myself to those measurements.

I’m five foot, five inches, but I’m heavier than one hundred and forty pounds.

Her class talks about Barbie and how horrible of a role model she is for body dimensions. She shows her class a picture of an artist who made Barbie life size. The sculpture’s waist small, her breasts so big she’d topple over. When I looked up the pictures I was surprised to see such an attractive artist standing next to the sculpture. This beautiful woman feels the need to point out how unattainable the image of a plastic doll truly is. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Summer is just starting where I live, and the dreaded bathing suit season has arrived. Thank you, Amazon for allowing me to order twenty suits to try in the comfort of my own home. As a matter of fact, while I’m already on the computer, scrutinizing every dimple in my ass, I’ll go ahead and search before and after pictures of breasts lifts and tummy tucks. Wow, those are some amazing results. Just think what I could look like for nine thousand dollars.

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“Love your body!” Is what I hear, over and over again. The message makes me ashamed that I can’t appreciate all my body has done for me over the years. I’ve given birth to three children. I live an active lifestyle full of hiking, gardening, trips to the beach, and other good times. I pay one hundred and twenty dollars to go to the gym, and I actually go a few times a week.

My stomach is deflated, it’s wrinkled and saggy. Once perky breasts from my younger years are sad and I have a hard time keeping them in a swimsuit. There’s no filling to them, I’m embarrassed to say the truth. Skin bags is what they remind me of. Hence the hatred of swimsuit shopping.

I want my body to look good, so I take steps to do that. However, it will never be like it once was. I’m not after Barbie, I’m after my youth. It’s gone, fading faster every year. My anxiety has a way of reminding me of this, over and over again. I can’t force my body back in time no matter how much I work out or curb my eating habits.

“Love your body!”

Please be quiet, I hear you. I really do. It’s the salty mix of losing my youth and seeing how my body responds that leaves me defeated, sad, and hating the naked image of myself in the mirror. It’s okay to be sad sometimes, we can’t be happy all the time. That would be a lot of pressure.

Every bathing suit season from now until I die will probably lead me down the same path.

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Melisa Peterson Lewis is a writer, blogger, book reviewer, gardener, and stay home parent. You can follow here on at Fingers to Sky Instagram. Facebook.

Images from Pixabay.