My Most Difficult Project for the New Year
My dad was recently diagnosed with an illness.
I suppose it doesn’t matter what illness, although I’m sure you can guess. In the days that followed the diagnosis, which is, by the way, currently optimistic, I found myself talking a lot to my mother about worry.
You see, we’re worriers by nature. We’re anxious, deeply sensitive people who consider facing one’s fears a daily project. You have to, when you have as many as we do. I think that’s why we both like planning things so much. We like organizing our wants, needs, and fears into tidy, self-contained lists. We like being able to cross things off, to control them. We’ve both used it as a defense against the scarier unknowable parts of our lives.
But this, this terrifying, gigantic C word. This is something we can’t predict at all. We can’t make a list for what to do now, what to do next. There’s just no way to know it, to control it. So what did we decide?
We decided to release it. Imagine the regrets we would have if we spent the rest of the months, years, decades, whatever we all have left together, worrying about when we wouldn’t have it anymore. How could we enjoy it? How deeply sad would it be to look back on a lifetime of waiting for bad things to happen, things that may or may not ever come to pass? It won’t be easy, but this is my project for 2016:
- When entering a spiral of anxious or negative feelings, remind myself that they are outside the scope of what I know or can predict, and therefore are not worth ruminating on.
- Practice self-care. I must have support, peace, and comfort in order to be strong in difficult times. How can I help others if I cannot even care for myself?
- Create positive memories instead of negative predictions.
I can’t know what is to come, and I can’t prevent bad things from happening in this or anyone else’s life. But what I can do is appreciate the now, learn to love myself, and release those things that I cannot control or predict. Will you join me?