“You know that feeling at the end of the day, when the anxiety of that-which-I-must-do falls away and, for maybe the first time that day, you see, with some clarity, the people you love and the ways you have, during that day, slightly ignored them, turned away from them to get back to what you were doing, blurted out some mildly hurtful thing, projected, instead of the deep love you really feel, a surge of defensiveness or self-protection or suspicion? That moment when you think, Oh God, what have I done with this day? And what am I doing with my life? And how must I change to avoid catastrophic end-of-life regrets?
I feel like that now: tired of the Me I’ve always been, tired of making the same mistakes, repetitively stumbling after the same small ego strokes, being caught in the same loops of anxiety and defensiveness. At the end of my life, I know I won’t be wishing I’d held more back, been less effusive, more often stood on ceremony, forgiven less, spent more days oblivious to the secret wishes and fears of the people around me…” ― George Saunders
She worried about many things.
She also worried because she worried, worrying worried her because worrying was considered by others to be something you shouldn’t do. Their rules added to her worries, because they didn’t want her to worry but they wanted her to worry about worrying, and she always seemed to do what you were not supposed to do. That was a worrying trait.
But the worst kind of worry of all worries was worrying because she was not worried.
Not worrying worried her more. She should be worried, but she wasn’t.
Others told her that she should be worried when she wasn’t – were these the same others who said that she shouldn’t worry when she did?
Why were people always making one rule and then breaking it through contradiction with another rule, did they not listen to themselves and hear what they were giving with one side of their mouth and taking away with the other side?
She just didn’t have time in her worrying schedule to worry about that too. It did however concern her when they interfered with her concerns.
“When all by myself, I can think of all kinds of clever remarks, quick comebacks to what no one said, and flashes of witty sociability with nobody. But all of this vanishes when I face someone in the flesh: I lose my intelligence, I can no longer speak, and after half an hour I just feel tired. Talking to people makes me feel like sleeping. Only my ghostly and imaginary friends, only the conversations I have in my dreams, are genuinely real and substantial.” ― Fernando Pessoa
Right now she was deeply distressed by her lack of distress for a situation which should have been worrisome. Yet she wasn’t as distressed by her lack of distress as she tried to be, as she told herself she should be.
In the past this situation would have been a juggernaut squashing her under its wheels with the weight of heavy consternation. The sort of panic which paralysed, and could have been assessed as paranoid delusion by those running their judging eyes over her like a spotlight which is searching for things to find wrong. A big glaring eye blinded by its own brightness, blinkered by its own ability to shine a light into the dark yet be unable to see what it touches with its illumination.
But she didn’t worry about eyes which watched but didn’t see. Yet she should be worried about them, as they thought they could see and created a world of problems because of the spots on their sun.
This whole situation was caused by one of those very black spots, a darkened flare expanding, exploding, inflaming. Burning logic away for the sake of the irrational illusions brought on by staring at the shining of a puckered black hole.
“Man is not worried by real problems so much as by his imagined anxieties about real problems” ― Epictetus
She had ceased to worry about it. Worry solved nothing, and this had ceased to be a nothing therefore it could not be solved with worry.
When she was not worried, then it was truly a reason to be worried, but she couldn’t muster such a well worn trait for the matter at hand. She tried repeatedly, but it just wouldn’t take, wouldn’t rev into worrying action. Not for this, for many other things perhaps, but not this, and yet this was the biggest portion of problem on her life plate.
The other worries which she knew were mostly trifles blown out of proportion due to anxiety of this and that and the other were small compared to the immensity of not worrying about this.
She was a worrier, worrying was her default position, so to not function in the way that she functioned made her concerned that something within was broken, and if it was broken… what then?
What makes you, you?
She saw this question, in bold, amongst all the other questions.
I don’t know, she answered, worrying as she did so that she was lying to herself about not knowing. She must know why, she always did even if she pretended that she didn’t, and to say that she didn’t meant that she was hiding something from herself.
She worried when she hid things from herself.
She knew she could handle almost everything she threw at herself, exposed, opened to the scrutiny of her analytical mind. The very same analytical mind from which worry sprung like a fretting Venus. If she was hiding something from herself and some part of her had decided that whatever it was might be too much for her to handle, then it must be something awful.
But she wasn’t hiding anything from herself. She knew that. It worried her.
Yet as much as it worried her that she wasn’t worried, she was not worried about not worrying as much as she wanted to be.
“Our real fears are the sounds of footsteps walking in the corridors of our minds, and the anxieties, the phantom floatings, they create.” ― Truman Capote
She was trying to be who she knew herself to be based on who she had been, but something had changed, even if that change was due to a breakage in the system.
She just couldn’t worry the way she used to and it really didn’t worry her. She was trying to worry about not being worried, about not being able to worry, but it was all an act.
She wasn’t worried.
How could someone who had spent their entire life worrying, just not worry anymore?
She kept trying to worry. She knew how to do it, mimic it, she could copy all her traits well, she’d lived with them long enough to replicate them until they were almost believable. She always knew when she was pretending, but she could turn a blind eye once in a while if need be.
Did she not care anymore, was that why she couldn’t rouse the old wart of worry?
She did care, just not in that way, not as caring had been used before, the way she was used to doing it.
If it all crumbled, then so be it. She’d been in the rubble before, she knew she could survive a collapse of the structures around her, and those within. If things didn’t work out, then they just simply didn’t work out. If the worst came to be, then so be it.
In some ways that was why she worried, she was afraid of the worst, hoping for the best, wishing that just once the best would actually find fertile ground to plant itself and grow. But she didn’t have a green thumb. The best did its best but sometimes it just withered away, turned to dust, was blown by the winds of whatever.
She no longer feared the worst. She just dealt with it. No need to worry.
The plant of worry had died. She really didn’t have green thumbs – and if she had she might worry that the verdant hue was gangrene before it turns black and things fall off.
“Some part of me can’t wait to see what life’s going to come up with next! Anticipation without the usual anxiety. And underneath it all is the feeling that we both belong here, just as we are, right now.”
― Alexander Shulgin