Confessions of a Worrywart: Or How I almost missed Christmas this Year

I used to worry a lot about all sorts of things and, in fact, have done so all my life. I suppose you might diagnose me with a disorder, but I am not sure where the line is between just worrying and real anxiety. When I was young, I worried about becoming an adult; when I was an adult I worried about finding love (which I did!) and having children (which I did) and becoming successful (still working on this one). When I was fat I worried about becoming thin and then now that I am thin and healthy (yay!) I sometimes worry about becoming fat again.

Before our Australian adventure, I worried about renting out our home, I worried about packing up our valuables; I worried about being so far from the kids in a foreign land. While there I worried traveling. I worried about our parents back stateside. When my laptop crashed and died on our trip to  Tasmania, I worried about recovering my data.

When I started my blog, I worried about finding an audience. [Full disclosure: I still worry about this one.] I worry about being articulate, finding interesting enough subjects to write about, and I worry about getting my thoughts and inspirations down on paper. And I worry about being as open and vulnerable on paper as I am in my heart.

And then last fall I fell and broke my leg and ankle. This meant that for Christmas I would be in a wheelchair, unable to “mother” my family through our holiday traditions, such as they are. To top it off, this past Christmas was the first one we were celebrating with my son’s girlfriend, so I wanted it extra special as we welcomed her into our chaos family.

But my accident changed all that.

I was unable to organize and orchestrate our holidays as I had before. I certainly was not up to our annual trip to the mountains to chop down a tree. Actually if truth be told, our normal Christmas tradition is to go to a tree farm and argue about which tree we will chop down. If you note in the photos below from Christmas 2013, my husband and son are each kneeling at different trees, showing off their different tree preference. (The photo of the kids together with the final choice just gives me pleasure.)

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For Xmas 2014, plans had been made, and dates carefully negotiated to find a day during which all five of us where available to get and decorate a tree. And then my father decided to join us and suddenly there were many moving pieces to plan and organize and feed. I was both excited and worried.

For days I worried about everyone showing up—there were trips from the east coast involved for my daughter and father. Then I worried about what to feed everyone. I made plans in my mind and then changed them back and forth, back and forth. I worried about the house looking great, and I worried about it being clean. I didn’t realize it, but all my worrying had become a prison. It was keeping me from being excited about getting to spend the day with some of my favorite people in the world.

When my son and his girlfriend arrived, they burst into my bedroom, grabbed my comforter off to look at my injured leg/ankle. In that moment, I had two choices. I could freak out for being seen in bed, in my nightgown, with my ankle all purple and swollen (and gross) OR I could take a deep breath, relax and allow their love and attention to override my need to present myself as put together.

And it was at the minute that I burst out of my worrywart prison. I took that deep breath and it hit me; all my worrying was ridiculous. Here I was, about to spend the day with my family, and I was thinking about what to feed them. In my worrywart prison, I was miserable and small and contained. My worrying meant I was missing out on experiencing the joy of being with my loved ones.

The day turned out great. We had fun, and yes, it was overwhelming and exhausting. But more importantly I saw the error of my ways. Since then, as life’s adventures come up and my worrywart monster starts to rear its ugly head, I have been taking deep breaths, reminding myself that I want to break free from my prison of worry and perfection.

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

7 thoughts on “Confessions of a Worrywart: Or How I almost missed Christmas this Year

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Thanks, it is a process everyday sometimes! Just this morning I was thinking of somethings and had to check in with myself to find out if I am heading to needless worry or just planning. Turns out it was planning, but am I being vigilant to stay out of (my) prison.

  1. Dawn

    Dang! I wrote a long, thoughtful response… and poof! It didn’t register. So, to paraphrase what I said (because I’m about to board a plane and will not have wifi for good long while!): I worry more, as I get older, but I worry more about little things and the big stuff doesn’t seem to get to me as much. Go figure!

    Brava for you, Heidi– you figured this out, and now you can move forward unencumbered by anxiety that doesn’t serve you. I hope you can hold on to that good stuff!

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Sorry that your response went away. Happens to us all, I try and hit copy before posting my comments, especially when reading and comments on my tablet (vs my lap top). We are a lot of alike: my worries have been over the small and trivial stuff and haven’t been sweating the big stuff. I guess because it feels that there really isn’t much I can do about that stuff. Breathing in and out is helping me to maintain my equilibrium. Will need it for next week when my husband goes in for hand surgery! We are quite a pair: gimpy and gimpette!

  2. Jane Tuttle

    You captured it beautifully – worry is a waste of energy. Being able to stop the worry is a skill that needs constant exercise. Break free of worry! Wonderful post.

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Thank you for your comment. Worrying is a waste that require (of me) constant vigilance. With the whirlwind of medical calamities around here I have been almost too overwhelmed to worry! One day at a time has been my mantra.

  3. Pingback: The Reset Button | The Art of Living Fully

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