It would be understandable if I was afraid of tigers and snakes (which I’m not, though I might be if we were cruising down the Amazon River or traipsing through the jungles of India). No, the things that I’m afraid of – and it’s a constant 24/7 for me – are petty things.
Like this morning. I’m visiting my brother, and I’m afraid I may have ruined his frying pan (which was REALLY sparkly and clean before breakfast), because the cheese was REALLY good and stuck on it (underneath the fear I was also bitterly disappointed because that’s the best part of the whole omelet, that crispy cheese, and I couldn’t scrape it off to eat it, darn it).
And I’m afraid of making a mess in his kitchen, which is also sparkly and clean most of the time (even though I’m perfectly capable and very good at cleaning up after myself.)
These are just the tip of the iceberg! The list of petty fears is long and tiresome. And I didn’t really realize until reflecting on it this morning HOW much of my life is spent being afraid of these little things. It’s constant. I’m constantly afraid of saying the wrong thing, of hurting someone’s feelings (namely hubby’s), afraid of doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and causing a major inconvenience or problem for someone, afraid of breaking something (especially unspoken rules), afraid of making messes anywhere and everywhere, afraid of saying something wrong in my broken French to my French in-laws that will be misunderstood and inadvertently forever estrange us.
It’s tiring. It’s downright exhausting. But once I’m in that pattern of thinking, it’s hard to stop this fearfulness from completely taking over. It permeates all of my thoughts, triggers my fearful demeanor, and impacts on my behaviour, which probably all come across as hyper-sensitive and perhaps even rather psychotic.
So how to stop it? As a guest in someone else’s house, it’s normal (isn’t it? I don’t really know if it is or isn’t!) to be extra careful to not make too much of a mess or break their things. But I’m obsessive about it, about being a good house-guest, leaving as little a footprint as possible…so much so that I probably end up being and doing the opposite. I know for certain that there are times, like this morning, that I feel like a psychotic nightmare to myself and that if I had a house-guest like me in MY house, I’d probably wish they’d go away sooner than later. Thankfully my brother is NOT me, and has been patient and seemingly totally unaffected by anything I’ve done, not done, said, not said…so it’s all just in my own head, all this angst and anxiety.
So, again, how to shake myself out of it. Putting things into proper perspective maybe…if I ruin a frying pan, I can buy a new one. If I make a mess, clean it up. If I say the wrong thing, apologize and hope that we can all move on. Am I correct in believing that not much in life is written in stone? Most things CAN be fixed, most relationships can withstand and survive these petty little mistakes.
So I need to step back from this anxiety, lay down all of these fears and believe in my smart, empowered self and in the goodness of just “being” here. Practice deep breathing, positive attitude and common sense. And stop tip-toeing around the kitchen (and people) in constant terror, because I’m pretty sure nobody else except me expects or wants me to be perfect. So why keep putting myself into such an unnecessary state of angst! It’s time to stop, breathe, relax and just enjoy being here. And maybe buy a few extra scrubbie thingies the next time we’re in the dollar store.