Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Irrational Fear.

irrational (adjective) - not in accordance with reason; utterly illogical
fear (noun) - something that causes feelings of dread or apprehension; something a person is afraid of
Source: Dictionary.com

Those of you who know me best know that I have a tendency to worry on occasion. By occasion, I might or might not mean 17 hours per day at least 6 days per week. Fortunately, my worry gene doesn't conflict with my love of sleep gene.

If you know me best, you also know that most of worries are absolutely ridiculous in the grand scheme of things. They are completely and totally irrational. I've even been known to call a fellow worrier once or a thousand times and say "Ok, I need to talk through my latest irrational fear." [Ugh, remind me to never, ever pray for transparency again. Ever.] Usually just verbalizing the fear diminishes much of the anxiety that accompanies it. Sometimes though I just internalize it. Usually a clear indicator that this is happening is that some hair on the right side of my head is a little curlier than the other curls because I twirl it like crazy when something is on my mind.

The source of inspiration for today's topic comes in light of my most recent trip to the dentist. Fact: I fear the dentist. Like, I fear the dentist so much that when I became a grown up with my own dental insurance and decision-making abilities, I decided to stop going. [Instead of judging me, thank me for being the person who contributes to low insurance premiums!!] And then my wisdom teeth started bothering me so I took care of that little detail and never went back once the post-surgery Percocet wore off. I'm embarrassed to admit how long ago that was. Then suddenly two weeks ago I chipped a tooth while flossing. The only thing scarier than going to the dentist is walking around a speed dating event with a snaggle tooth. Bahahahahaha, speed dating event. Talk about stirring up some irrational fear. Long story short, the tooth was repaired without major consequence but they weren't able to do a cleaning that day so I scheduled it for Monday, May 8 at 2:00. All sorts of time to mentally prepare for that little visit. Until yesterday morning when my phone rang and my friendly neighborhood dentist had a cancellation for that afternoon. Oh. My. Word. You would have thought that I was entering the Hunger Games arena. But guess what: It wasn't a terrible trip at all. My teeth are in tip-top shape AND the dentist didn't even have to hold my nose to get me to open my mouth so that he could fit me for a partial tooth. That childhood event might or might not be a contributing factor to my irrational fear of the dentist.

What are some other irrational fears of mine? Oh, I've got a laundry list, unfortunately.

Balloons. If I ever have children, they will never have balloons at their birthday parties. Or at the grocery store. Or at a restaurant. Or ever. I mean, there's nothing more disturbing than going to O'Charley's when all I want to do is load up on those hot rolls and a fried chicken salad smothered in cheese, honey mustard dressing and olive oil infused croutons and end up sitting directly behind a toothy toddler with a balloon tied to his high chair. Not only is it a choking hazard, it is a recipe for unanticipated loud noises and I don't like those one little bit. Which leads me to...

Thunder. You know how adults always say to kids during thunderstorms "oh, that's just God and the angels bowling up there." Gimme a break. I wholeheartedly believe that God has better things to do with his time than bowl a couple of games during the spring and summer months. Not that I'm not an avid supporter of leisurely pursuits, but really bowling? Might I recommend Angry Birds. He can mute the volume on his smart phone. I'm not sure why I'm afraid of thunder. My dear daddy used to always say that it's because I stayed with my grandmother during the day and she was terrified of thunder so I learned that fear from her because she would jump and say "gosh!" every.single.time. it thundered which totally interrupted my 5:00 viewing of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Chalk one up for nurture in the nature versus nurture battle.

Apartment Fire. I do not trust my neighbors. Why not? I excitedly posted this picture on April 3, 2010 to rejoice the departure of my least favorite pair in the hood:

They are STILL here. And they are not the most responsible smokers if you know what I mean. All is takes is one rogue still smoldering cigarette in the dry, dry pine straw during the summer months and well, I don't even like to think about it. Especially when my sweet, sweet puppy spends his days at home innocently watching day time television and dreaming of treeing cats.

Never getting married. Please, no eyerolls. Allow me to say what I have to say because this isn't so much a fear as it is a worry. It's not like I'm afraid of living by myself because I've been doing that a-ok for 10 years now. I just believe we were created to share life with someone and by someone, I do not mean a herd of cats or even a loyal canine companion. This, like the other ones I've listed it's completely and totally irrational.

So, let's discuss:

Dentists. If I'm going to be afraid, then shouldn't I be more concerned about the long-term negative health consequences that result from not going to the dentist than I am about the scrapy thing on my teeth or having to get a shot in the roof of my mouth and the needle hitting a nerve over and over again during said shot (that also happened in childhood)? Yes, yes, I should.

Balloons. If I'm going to be afraid, shouldn't I be more concerned about the choking-hazard that the balloon poses to the toddler who is happily chomping away on an inflated balloon instead of a loud noise disturbing my dinner as I'm happily chomping away on those hot rolls slathered in butter?

Thunder. If I'm going to be afraid, shouldn't I be more concerned about the lightening or tornadoes that typically accompanies thunder?

Apartment Fire. Ok, I still haven't actually come up with a ridiculous point for this one. Other than the fact that I apparently STILL haven't come to terms with the fact that I cannot control the universe. NomattherhowhardItry.

Never getting married. If I'm going to fear anything about this topic, shouldn't I be more concerned over marrying the wrong person? Because the only thing I want to do less than never get married is to get a divorce.

Here's what I've learned about fear and worry in this little life of mine, thus far. Typically when we have a real, substantial reason to worry, we don't have time to do so. The worry doesn't consume us because our bodies kick into some sort of weird survival-push through-I can do this mode. The only example/experience that immediately comes to my mind is when dad was sick in the hospital before he died. That time was so uncertain and full of unknowns but I was filled with a continuous peace throughout it all. In fact, this is what got me through much of that time:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4: 4-7

Maybe you're wondering how I can just read a passage and say "oh, that's all I needed to make it through a trying time." Well, that's not what I'm saying for a single second, but I absolutely believe these words because I did make it through that trying time with a sense of peace throughout it all. And I know my success is not my success at all. Without God and his grace, love and mercy, I would have been a floundering little fish in so many circumstances. Yes, my faith is much stronger in hindsight than it is in the midst of a storm. Just call me Thomas. Or Peter. Or well, actually call me Heather, please.

So, what does worrying accomplish? Not one single thing. I write about these ridiculous worries in jest, but also with a bit of seriousness because worry and fear are very real things to the person who experiences them. Even when there is nothing really to be afraid of or worried about. Our minds are incredible and we can drive that crazy train of doubt, fear, and worry until it derails or runs out of gas. My intent is that the next time the train pulls into the station, before I hop aboard, I will remember to stop and determine if there's reason for worry. Typically if I have to question it, I already know the answer. And when I cannot rely on myself alone (which I never, ever should), maybe I'll remember to turn here. Which is where I should start in the first place, but I've never claimed to always take the most direct route...she says 1,575 words later.

"Pray and let God Worry." -Martin Luther