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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Worrywart

So, I have a confession to make. I am a worrier. I like to mentally analyze an issue to death, and then fret about it some more after that. I am not the out-loud, whiny worrier-type though--no, I prefer to lay awake half the night, mulling over all the "what ifs" and then spend all my quiet moments of the day doing the same thing. And boy, as a mom, do I have a lot of worry-fodder! In fact, if I start to run out of worry-fuel, I can just worry about how much I worry! Sometimes it IS good to think things through and analyze them so you are not walking blindly into a situation, but it is easy to let the thinking and wondering turn into genuine worry. When we were considering adopting from Ethiopia, I had a million things I worried, er, wondered, about. How will I take care of an Ethiopian child's hair? Will other people in our family have negative reactions? Should we add another child to our already nutso family? Do Ethiopian children sunburn like I do? How long will it take? Is this just a "whim" that I will act on and then back out on? Will I love this child just the same as the other Things since it will look and feel so different than what I know as a mom-and yes, I do mean literally look so different-I have no issue whatsoever with race, obviously, but it is just so different than what I've ever done before, you know? I have to say, that last one is the one I worried about the most (and worried about even sharing it with everyone). And honestly, it is still the one that likes to plague me when I am feeling tired and worn out, and lacking in sleep, and most of all lacking in time with the Lord. (ok, and when I have PMS-yeah, I said it) There are days when I just feel like "what were we thinking?" about this adoption, because I just don't feel cut out for the job. And oddly, as we inch closer on the waiting list, the worries get a little louder. Some days bringing home our baby is just so crazy of a concept that I cannot fathom it actually happening and then I just feel like maybe I misunderstood what God was telling us. And I worry about my other girls-what if all the kids don't gel? What if things are too weird of an adjustment? And the worst, most horrible-feeling worry of all, what if we regret it? Now, please do not be angry with me, I am trying to be super real and honest about my innermost thoughts. I feel like this is hard to say because so much of what is seen in the adoption community is incredible excitement and joy about the journey and I do feel that way, most of the time. But like I said, there are times when these little whispers come through my thoughts and I feel alone with them, like if I dared to share them with other adoptive parents, they would think I was crazy and maybe shouldn't in fact be adopting at all. However, I don't think this is the case because I distinctly remember feeling this exact same way when I was pregnant with all three Things (well, except the Ethiopian hair issue, I mean I pretty much counted that issue out). That fear of "oh no, can I get out of this? what the heck will I do with another baby? who thought this was a good idea?" that seemed to creep in at the most inopportune times was there with all my pregnancies and I think it is the same fear that is here with this adoption. It is the fear of the unknown, the not knowing what to expect, and the irrevocability of it. I know without a doubt God has asked us to walk this path, and that is what I cling to when I feel consumed with my questions and worries (well, that and some PMS meds and chocolate, but I digress...) and I know that I should not be anxious or worry about anything, according to Philippians 4:6-7, and I do lay these thoughts at the feet of Jesus regularly. And I know that at first sight of my babies, I was incredibly, irrevocably, intensely, unconditionally in love with them. But honestly, I do worry, like any expecting parent I suppose. I have been encouraged by other folks, like Melissa Faye Greene (in articles like this) and Mary from Owlhaven when they have written about concerns, worries, and even post adoptive depression. This adoption brings with it new sets of concerns-things I never really thought would float across the expanse of my mind-and I want to ask other adopting parents, do you worry about this stuff too sometimes? If you do, would you be willing to share those feelings from time to time so we can all encourage one another, not just in the exciting times, but in the scary, uncertain times, too? Or if you have "been there, done that" and are on the other side of things with your sweet one home, can you share that, too? It is nice to know that these feelings are normal and that we have folks running this marathon with us, as well as those cheering us on from the finish line.

8 comments:

Our journey said...

There is nothing more that I appreciate than someone who is authentic. I am too old to try and put on a facade for others and find it refreshing when we can be honest with one another. Thanks Jody! I am not usually a very anxious person. I have learned through trial and error that it does me no good to worry about things I can not change. For the most part, I have been able to give my anxiety to God. Now, I have not been able to give him the anxiety I have felt for the past two weeks. Being this close to my daughter is driving me crazy. Waiting for the phone to ring pretty much sucks, but I can't help listen for it because it could be about my little girl. Hopefully, God will put me out of my misery soon.

Super Mom said...

Oh my do I worry. I worry about all the things you mentioned, alot! And I worry about not being able to actually afford another child, and meet everyone's emotional needs, and retain my sanity and that my house will forever be filthy once I'm outnumbered. Yikes! These worries might sound silly, but you go through this whole intense process trying to prove yourself to your caseworker and agency and people you know. And then in the lull before the referral you have nothing to do except be very afraid you made a horrible mistake (even though you know in your heart you didn't)
It's nice to have company!
Erin

Dawn said...

Thank you for your honesty!! I stay awake for hours every night with my mind racing, so I know the anxiety stuff...very well. It's tough..it's all unknown to us. I'm in a different situation because we don't have any children, so I don't have anything to "compare" it to. One thing I do worry about though is if my husband's family will 100% accept this child the same as they do all the other grandchildren. So, please know that you are not alone. We all have our worries and fears. Sometimes the blog world is always about the "good" stuff and sometimes leave out the "real" stuff. This journey isn't always easy, but definitely a blessing. I'm so happy we are "list buddies" and I really hope we travel together!! :)

Dr Beverly Potter said...

Wonder what a “worrywart” is and if you truly are one?

The job of worry is to anticipate danger before it arises and identify possible perils, to come up with ways to lessen the risks, and to rehearse what you plan to do. Worrywarts get stuck in identifying danger as they immerse themselves in the dread associated with the threat, which may be real or, more likely, imagined. They spin out an endless loop of melodrama, blowing everything out of proportion. "What if I have a heart attack?" "What if there is an earthquake?" "What if someone breaks in when I'm asleep?"
While worrywarts insist worrying is helpful, little is solved. Stuck in thinking ruts, they stop living in the here and now--the present moment. Worrywarting is torment--a kind of self-imposed purgatory that makes you feel bad, stresses you out, and wastes precious moments of your life.
Worse yet, worry begets more worry, setting into motion a vicious circle of frightening thoughts and anxious response. It is self-perpetuating, pushing into greater anxiety and more worry. Allowed to continue unchecked, chronic worry can evolve into panic attacks and, in extreme cases, agoraphobia, which is a paralyzing fear of having a panic attack, especially in public. It can be so severe that, in the worst cases, the sufferer can't leave home. Sometimes panic attacks can be so extreme that the worry-victim thinks he or she is having a heat attack and is rushed to the hospital in an ambulance.
Find out if you are a worrywart by taking the quiz, “Am I a Worrywort” at http://www.docpotter.com/Worry_test.html.

Trying to stop worry is usually futile. Instead, we need to become “smart worriers”. Smart worriers do the work of worry and then they soothe themselves to get back to balance. Smart worriers designating a time and place to worry in order to contain it. When worrying a problem through, they talk to themselves like a good friend would and not like a fuddy-duddy. (FUD = Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) After the worry session smart worriers realize that they are riled up and anxious, so they soothe themselves by employing one of the below techniques to bring themselves back to balance.

In my work I identified 21 ways to soothe yourself after doing the work of worry. Among them are to:

Say a little prayer.
Find the joy.
Count your blessings.

Eric and Michelle said...

I just love it when people are real and these emotions PMS or not are real. Thanks for being brave enough to share. I have started reading a book by Melissa Fay Greene...There is no me without you. Have you read it?

be_a_Mary said...

Of COURSE we worried about all those things. I am terribly analytical too, and our adoption spun me into the greatest faith leap in my LIFE, and many times I would question and second-guess and worry over the unanswered, unresolved, unknown. And truth be told, now that we are back from Ethiopia, I STILL can worry, and now it is just new things . . . will Daniel feel like he fits with our family? will Daniel rebel from us? When will I encounter my first horrible, nasty comment about Daniel (i havent yet!)? Will I scar him if I dont respond to him in less than 10 seconds? Will he always feel less than because he is not bio, and in what ways will i overcompensate (or undercompensate) and how will that impact the rest of the family? You are absolutely not alone in those fears/worries/anxious thoughts. I think, however, i turned a MAJOR leaf when we got our referral, because the vagueness of 'not knowing' was helped and I knew SOME. the minute i saw his photo and heard his story, he became my child, a child in need, and a LOT of it faded. I hope that encourages you!! You are NORMAL! thanks for your vulnerability!!

Kristi J said...

I loved your post...so good and real!!! I have lots of worrying friends and my hubby is more of a "worrier" than I am..but my sistrs and I generally don't worry about much..I worry about my children's safety..but other than that..I take a layed back approach to everything and don't worry about much...God always makes everything work out in the end...Life is too short to worry...Remember, when we step out in faith...God will be there for us...So, don't worry, be Happy!! just kidding..that just came to mind (: kristi

Jana said...

Thanks so much for sharing, you write and think so well! In my humble opinion:) I have had and still have similar thoughts and fears. I often feel like I'm barely keeping it together with 2 and to think about adding another 1, oh my, "what were we thinking?" But then, just like you said you've been there and thought all that before and everything turned out fine. I think every new addition just seems to find there place and it all works out. Each child will have their own challenges and issues regardless of whether they were adopted or not. So just deal with what comes today, eat some chocolate and of course, PRAY.