1. Another evening alone with my hubby
2. A nice morning on the back patio with my coffee
3. Getting all the week’s meal planning and grocery shopping done
4. Learning to shut down the demons in my head
That last one sounds a lot worse than it really is. No, I’m not about to be dragged off by the nice young men in their clean white coats. This is all about discovering ways to quiet the incessant drumbeat of worry that I’ve been plagued with all my life. I remember being VERY anxious over certain things when growing up, things over which I had absolutely no control, like heavy rainstorms and high winds. As I grew older those anxieties morphed into the more mundane but every bit as terrifying, such as money worries or freaking out while riding as a passenger in the front of a car. I can also trace almost every anxiety I have back to its origin. In the case of rainstorms, I can pretty much pinpoint the moment – one strong and prolonged downpour during our first year living in the high desert when my mom had to go out and dig trenches around one side of the house because the water had nowhere else to go and was beginning to creep into our garage, which had already been flooded due to a burst pipe earlier in the winter. I honestly thought we would all be swept away by rising floodwaters. (I was only eight years old. Stuff like that leaves a mark.) The money issue has its origins in the many times I heard my mom worry aloud about how she was going to pay all the bills and that was followed up years later by an irresponsible boyfriend who trashed my credit while I lived with him. (Thankfully that relationship didn’t last long.) As far as being a nervous passenger is concerned, I rear-ended a woman back in 1982 while driving my old blue Datsun pickup and even though her car wasn’t badly damaged, the front of my poor truck was accordioned and the car spent a few weeks in the shop. The exact same thing happened about six months later, only this time Rory was driving the truck and we hit a young couple who were expecting their first child. They ended up being okay, just badly rattled over worry about their baby. After the second round of repairs, my poor little truck’s front end was almost solid Bondo. To this day, I CANNOT ride up front with Rory or anyone else without occasionally letting out small gasps or pumping an imaginary brake pedal. To his credit (God bless him), Rory has never lost his temper with me over this, although I’m sure there’ve been times when he’s probably wanted to just pull the car over and let me walk home. The asshole boyfriend who ruined my credit wasn’t nearly as kind on the one occasion that I lost it while he was driving my new little Honda CRX.
There are more horror stories, but I can say with certainty that as a sensitive person, these experiences have left deep scars that I’m only now learning to deal with. Calming the inner chatter is a challenge even for those who don’t claim worrying as their superpower. For me it’s far more difficult but not insurmountable. Meditation and simple mindfulness are helping me to slowly turn down the inner volume knob. My experiences now while undergoing cancer treatment are no different – they also raise the volume of mental noise and are every bit as out of my control. I’m just along for the ride.