Warmest Regards: When is worrying excessive?
By Pattie Mihalik
I recently had a challenging day of trying to manage conflicting “must do’s.”
Every Monday is “writing day” when I don’t move away from my computer. I stay there until I meet my newspaper deadlines for both my column in our Pennsylvania papers and my weekly feature in Florida.
I don’t care how tempting other activities are. If it happens on a Monday, I can’t do it. Meeting my newspaper deadlines is my top priority.
When I managed to finally get an appointment with an overbooked pain specialist, he had one opening — on a Monday.
Because I needed a bit of help before our trip to Italy, I said I would be there.
Then, I thought the devil learned my phone number when I got called for another “must-do” church commitment.
I stressed for days about how I would manage both commitments and still meet my deadlines.
When I manage to accomplish all three things I was gleeful.
“See that. You did all that worrying for nothing. You worry too much,” declared my husband.
Some languages have several words for one emotion. Love, for example, has several different words, depending on the context.
We only have two. Love and like. Of course they are not even close in meaning.
Perhaps we should have more than one word for worrying. Or, perhaps I should never use the word.
I should say I was “concerned” about meeting my deadlines. Yes, perhaps I did worry, but it was more a case of preplanning.
I got it all done by doing some of the writing on Sunday, something I usually refuse to do.
So my husband might be wrong when he keeps telling me I worry too much.
But, he might be right, too.
Compared to him, I do worry too much. He worries about nothing.
I mentioned before how the engine in our boat caught fire, the pump failed and we were taking on water. In a normal, nonexcited voice, David said, “The boat is going to sink.”
I’ve never seen him excited. I can certainly understand why he was such a good Air Force pilot. He certainly has the disposition for it.
Truth be told, I wish he would worry more — at least when it comes to figuring out how to get essential things done around the house.
The tile around his swimming pool is pushing up in a big way, creating what I think is an immediate need to call a tile guy before it gets worse — like the tile on the other side. It’s falling off the pool. Perhaps tree roots got under it.
I don’t know the cause. But I know we need to take care of it.
He says I worry too much.
Is that worrying? Or, is it caring?
When I see rain coming into a window in my house, I want it replaced before hurricane season. Is that needless worry? Or, is it trying to avoid a more serious problem?
Is there a difference between being concerned and worrying?
David says it depends on the degree.
OK, I admit it. If they had some kind of barometer to measure worrying, the level wouldn’t rise for him. Mine would rise near the top.
I wasn’t always like that. I think it’s an age thing.
When I was much younger I took everything in stride. Everything! When I stayed calm during a harrowing experience that could have cost us our lives, my friend Carol said I had to have been embalmed to stay calm when we were in such serious jeopardy.
I think I’m usually calm during a crisis because I have to be.
There’s a difference between not panicking when in jeopardy and worrying needlessly.
Did I panic when our boat was taking on water? I wasn’t calm like David. But I was calm enough to call Sea Tow and convince them we needed immediate help.
I was even calm when I saw the $7,000 repair bill because there was nothing I could do about it — except finally admit it was time to sell the boat.
I have a friend who says we waste energy when we worry about “first-world problems.”
If it’s a third-world problem — not enough to eat, no health care and no safe place to live, those are real worries, she says.
The rest is a waste of time.
My daughters agree with David that as I get older I’m worrying too much.
Once again, I plead my case by saying there’s a difference between being cautious and being a worrywart.
I didn’t want to walk around a live volcano that had erupted two days before. Nor did I want to walk in a water-filled cave near the volcano.
I said the volcano might not be finished with its present eruption. And the cave could easily become sealed off if it did.
Plus, what about snakes in the water?
Was I being cautious?
Or, was I worrying needlessly?
I admit there are times when I do worry too much — mostly when things involve my children or grandchildren.
While I can’t change anything by worrying, I do it anyway.
I call it loving them. And a mother’s love isn’t excessive, is it?
The jury is still out on excessive worrying.
Contact Pattie Mihalik at email@example.com.