Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Replacing fear with faith

I am a world-class worrier - if worry were an Olympic sport, I'd have been on a Wheaties box years ago. I have spent many years worrying about things that have never happened. I justified my drinking with the release from worry that it gave me for many years.

Now that I am sober, I have to deal with the same brain. As the country song goes, "I've got this thinkin' problem ...". This is why I need to read each day something out of Dale Carnegie's book Stop Worrying and Start Living. This book's techniques have helped me immensely with my weird need to freak out.

Here's an example: yesterday was the first day of school for my son. This is his second year in the public school system. Just like the first day of last year, my son's father called the school and told them I have enrolled my son under false pretenses (I don't know what that means), threatening to sue the school, the principal, and the district.

Last year, I got really upset about the scene he made - I envisioned him dragging me back into court, giving a judge another chance to take my son away from me. I literally began plotting strategy for a hearing that never took place.

I didn't enjoy it any more this year: I apologized to the school administration and filed his bizarre e-mails in the stack I've had for years now. What's different is that I recognize that he is the same size as me in the eyes of God. The same laws of nature apply to him - if they didn't, they would be called The Laws of Nature Except for Evan J. So this year I'll do some things differently:

I won't throw gas on grill when there's nothing to cook. Because we both answer to Nature's Law, I do not need to get drawn into a verbal pissing match with him. It does no good and wastes precious moments from my life - I didn't divorce him to keep fighting with him!

Get correct perspective. Most human behavior has a pattern, and he is no exception. He sends all parties involved ugly threatening e-mails and letters, demanding that everyone do his bizarre bidding. No one responds, and then one day, it stops like a hurricane losing steam. There will be another soon, but they always pass without any real incident.

Adjust my expectations. I have a court order directing my legal obligations in raising my son, and I obey that court order. He has not. Therefore, it is a reasonable assumption that he will continue to disobey. It is unreasonable to think that one day after 45 years of societal narcissism, he will say to himself, "Hmmm... maybe I should be of service to others, rather than a blight on my community? I'll start by ceasing to harass my ex-wife."

Embrace the worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that Evan and I will end up before the original judge again over less than a year's worth of custody, and I can show that I have obeyed every letter of his order, and then show him the stack of e-mailed rants (which I affectionately call the Book of Crazy) and his failure to pay child support. Unpleasant? Yes. But nothing I couldn't handle.

Use same mental energy for something constructive. I turn the mental power I would have misused worrying to keeping documentation of all of this, while working on my ability to stay calm and nonplussed by these outbursts (which isn't easy). Keeping my side of the street clean isn't always easy, but it always rewards us.

Sometimes I think Dale Carnegie might have been one of us!


~Tyra~ said...

Great post, I'm a worrier too.