Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Anxiety and Vulnerability

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As far back as I can remember I have suffered from anxiety. Clearly it has not yet reached a level to be designated as a disorder so perhaps anxiety is the wrong word, but I do worry. Among other things, I worry about being late, getting lost and forgetting appointments.

I constantly get lost as I have no sense of direction, but because I expect to lose my way, and be late, I leave more than enough time and so I am almost never late.

In particular when I am traveling, I worry about missing flights, missing connections, getting the wrong flight, being diverted, losing my luggage and just about any other possible inconvenience imaginable.

I was talking to my mother in law about this recently and she had a hard time understanding why I would worry about something that might never happen, or over which I had no control. I, in turn, had a hard time explaining that by worrying about it, I felt that
a) I would be prepared if it did happen
b) I would have something to celebrate if it didn't happen
c) I was somehow protecting myself from it in fact happening, a sort of insurance.

Obviously c) doesn't work because all of the above have happened more than once, with the exception of getting on the wrong flight. However, I will still worry about that just in case. On the other hand, on the occasions when I have missed flights, connections or lost my luggage, I have handled the situation calmly and without stress, all of the stress related to these incidents had already been experienced, and as I almost expected it I was emotionally prepared and there was nothing left to to be upset about. Perhaps there is even a certain element of 'Ah-Ha! I knew it!'

Strangely I do not worry about crashing. I think I concentrate on the unimportant details because underneath it all, I have to agree with Mildred that there is no point in worrying about things that are beyond your control, or maybe I only worry about those petty details because they are things you can prepare yourself for, on the other hand how do you possibly prepare yourself for a major catastrophe? You don't, so why worry?

Recently a friend of mine blogged that it showed strength to be prepared to expose my vulnerability in my book, Peeling the Onion. I just don't see it that way. The way I see it is if you expose all your vulnerabilities, then you actually protect yourself against others 'exposing' you.  Somewhat like when being blackmailed, if you go public first you take control and remove the weapon from someone else's hand. I fear that sounds horribly negative. And no, I don't ever expect to be blackmailed, nor do I consider it possible that anyone would try to use my vulnerabilities against me, but let them just try!

I firmly believe that by exposing my vulnerabilities, I am actually disposing of them. And by worrying about missing flights or losing luggage, I am disposing of the stress and when/if these occur I am in control. Hmm, perhaps it all boils down to being in control?