Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A pause in preparations

God, This is not going to have a Christmas theme. 

It's a pause in the endless stream of festive preparations because I've just had a thought.  

It's on the subject of worry, and not worrying, and things being out of my control. As you know, this is s subject very close to my heart. 

The other day we had some friends coming to visit and I wanted everything to be perfect as we hadn't seen them for a long time. I had a lengthy list of things to do that had to be fitted into the usual tight programme of things that need doing and as the date of the visit got closer it became apparent that the house was not going to be particularly tidy, or particularly well-dusted for that matter. I got tired and dispirited as my perfectionist nature kicked in with a vengeance, and then I got to the point where I thought, 'Oh bother it.' (or words to that effect) and decided that I wasn't going to worry about details any more. If the house wasn't immaculate (and whose is, with two small children and an under-developed sense of house-pride?) then it didn't matter all that much. 
Hard to dust, these decs.

As it turned out, it didn't matter all that much. Of course, as they left the conversation subject matter in the car down the motorway might have been about nothing else but the dust on the DVD player or the smudges of soap in the downstairs cloakroom sink after Katy went on a squirting-spree, but as far as I know, it wasn't.  And we've spoken to them since so I know that no-one contracted any sort of dire bug or infectious complaint as a result of an unsterile environment. 

It was just nice to see them. And they us, I assume. 

This is a silly example. But the thing is - there are times when I find that I can shelve an anxiety. I sort of give up on it. It times out. 

Going away, for instance. It's just occurred to me that sometimes when I go on holiday, or after a deadline has passed and I realise I can't change things, I stop worrying about them.  I remember more than once being on a plane or a ship going somewhere on holiday and talking about an anxious situation at home and because I was going to be miles away and couldn't get back easily or quickly I concluded that there was no point in worrying because I was incapable of remedying the situation. 

And I didn't worry.

Of course, as you probably remember, that situation (like so many) was one that I never did have any control over; my feeling that I did was an illusion, no matter what country I was in. I never could have done anything about it so to relinquish a control I never had was just common sense. Just a shame I didn't do it earlier. 

It might sound stupid for this to be a revelation to me but it's just occurred to me how wonderful it would be if I could do this all the time, without the need for airline or cruise tickets or indeed reaching the end of my tether. How much more efficient and emotional energy-saving if I could skip to the end bit.

There are so many situations in my life that are out of my control; but it doesn't stop me from spending ages worrying about them and turning them over in my mind and discussing them with friends and yet - and yet - when I eventually, finally, at long last reach the conclusion that there's nothing I can do, I can leave them alone. In fact, you are the only one who has control; the only one who CAN do something, and so I should leave them with you in the first place.

I can't help it, so leave it with the one who can help it. How come I can do this when I'm miles away but not when I'm right here? How come I can get a decent sense of perspective about trivia like the necessity for a perfectly spotless house when I'm stressed and tired and end-of-tetherish and not save myself the worry? 

Remember in May this year when I'd just been referred to the breast clinic with a worrying breast lump?  I thought I had cancer.  I was so sure that I couldn't possibly enjoy the planned weekend at the seaside for my Mum's 80th birthday - but I did. With your help, certainly, but an impossible situation was made possible. I thought with anxiety like that hanging over me there was no way I could relax and skim stones and laugh and play and celebrate but I did. On the way back as I drove closer to home and appointments and Katy's surgery and everything I felt things closing in on me, but for a few days you helped me push them away. It was nothing short of a miracle.  (Music in the waves)

In fact I think that's what it was. You took the weight of it from me. 

You are faithful indeed. You understand my little quirks and you know how I think. I am quite sure that you want me to worry less and enjoy life more. It's been on my mind all year and I want to get to grips with it a little more. 

So, help me. When there's nothing I can do, help me do nothing - including worry. That's a new year resolution and a half. 

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