I don’t generally make New Years resolutions. I see them as just one more thing to fail at. One more thing to give myself grief over. All these people doing Veganuary and Dry January astound me… are they actively trying to make themselves more miserable in the most miserable (not to mention skint) month of the year!?
On New Years Day, my ever helpful husband Rob informed me he’d made a resolution for me. So kind of him! It was a very simple one he said. This year, I should stop worrying about things I have no control over.
Honestly I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner. Of course it makes no sense to worry over things I can’t control. And since the only thing I can control is the regrowth of my bikini line (thank you laser hair removal; you have changed my life); then surely I don’t need to worry about anything ever again!?
A quick Google search on ‘How not to worry ever again’ informs me I need to acknowledge and thank my worries before saying goodbye to them. I mean; it sounds like a pile of absolute wank to me but in the spirit of the new year… I’m giving it a go.
My only concern (there I go again) is… what will I think about when I wake up at 4am if I have nothing to worry about? Probably Howard Donald and Ryan Gosling. That’s what I thought about most in my pre-worrying days. Not Howard and Ryan together you understand. I’m not that greedy… although actually… now I come to think about it…
Right ok; without further ado, here is my list of ‘Things to worry about at 4am while your husband lies blissfully asleep beside you doing that rank hissing noise thing he does.’
1. My lovely old friend who is poorly. Ain’t giving that worry up NO WAY NO HOW. She’s just going to have to get better, then I’ll stop.
2. The house of horrors renovation project. Will it ever end? Will we ever be able to move into it? Will my marriage and/or sanity be in tact by the time we do?
3. Health. Or more to the point; the kids health. From nit combs to nipple cancer and everything in between. I stew over that funny mark I saw on one of their legs in the bath or the recurrent tummy ache they complain of… and I drive myself insane. Further to this I enjoy the pastime of worrying about mine or Rob’s premature death and how they would all cope. Which brings me onto worry number 4…
4. Rob’s new wife. I particularly enjoy worrying that if I die, Rob will be so grief-stricken (obvs) he will never remarry. Because he’ll know he won’t ever find someone as mint and hilarious as me (double obvs). But you see I want him to! And this takes up a lot of my 4am time. Worrying he won’t meet anyone new and that the boys will be feral motherless rogues OR worse that he meets someone who looks like Cheryl Cole (geet lush) but has the heart of Cruella de Ville.
5. Rob’s pet peeve worry of mine is… worrying about people I don’t actually know. Families using food banks; refugees; children awaiting transplants; wrongly accused prisoners serving life sentences, you name it; I’ll worry about it. This one spirals if I read too much news online and pre-election it had me DEMENTED. So I’m going to meet Rob halfway on this one. Still worry about them, still try to do my bit to help… but stop overloading myself with the sadness of it all.
6. Ooooh this is a biggie. This one not only niggles me at 4am… it’s lurking all goddamn day: ‘What if that person doesn’t like me?’ Now before you start; I’ve read all the books about not giving too many fucks and recognising your self worth doesn’t come from other people (yeeeaaahhh right) but I’m still lying there on a nightly basis wondering if I said the wrong thing to someone I barely know. The part that is particularly bewildering is that even if I don’t especially like the person, I still really really want them to like me. I’m hoping once I hit forty I’ll care less about what people think. My Mam says that’s what happens and she is tres wise.
7. Oooh what else… an assorted mind-blowing jumble of ‘What the fuck is going to happen with Iran? Are Jonah’s football boots rubbing his heels? Will Brexit ruin my children’s futures? Will cancer research funding be cut because of it? Am I eating too much honey and kidding myself it’s healthy when it’s actually pure sugar? Will Nazanin Zhagari Radcliffe ever be released? Will Ellis EVER learn to count past number four or will we have to pay for a maths tutor? Should we start looking at health insurance if that’s the way the NHS is going? Will Dylan mastermind a drugs ring in middle school and end up in a young offenders institute?
That list is not exhaustive but it is exhausting. How the hell am I going to put all that aside?
My friend Emma who is a psychologist has given me a couple of tips. Firstly; less exposure to the news if I’m having a particularly angsty time. Definitely less reading news articles on social media because they take me down a rabbit hole of fretting! Secondly; more exercise, more being in the moment and less thinking about the future.
She also showed me this fab diagram which I’m going to physically write in. I’m guessing my circle of concern will be rammed full but that’s ok. I’ll concentrate on the bits in my circle of control.
In a way; I don’t want to stop worrying completely. I want to keep my empathy. And it’s really our empathy that keeps us awake at night isn’t it? Emma says people who shut off and don’t worry at all are ‘hibernating from their emotional pain’. I’ve already rehearsed saying that to Rob the next time he starts on at me about worrying. I can’t wait. I’m going to narrow my eyes and shake my head sadly then say very calmly; “I feel sorry for people like you. Always hibernating from your emotional pain.” He’ll love that.
See; worrying comes from a place of love doesn’t it? And love doesn’t have to just stop with your own little bubble. In fact it shouldn’t! If we have are going to have any shot at making the world a better place, that love, and in turn that worry, has to spread far and wide. And yes Rob; even to people I’ll never meet.