I worry about being late, about getting lost, about having to face my husband with a speeding fine if I accidentally drive over the limit, or a parking fine if I am delayed and stay longer than my prepaid time in a car park. I worry that I will be blamed.
I worry that my children will see me as dull or foolish and think that this is typical of a mother, a woman. I worry that my husband will see me as dull or foolish and decide to leave. I worry that I will express myself badly and cause offence or that my silence will suggest agreement with something I find offensive.
I worry about losing my muse, about the quality of my writing. I worry about not reading the books I have requested for review as fast as is required. I worry that my review will cause pain to the writer who may think I do not appreciate how awesome it is to have created an entire book and had it published. I want to remind them that each reader is unique and nothing is ever universally adored.
I worry that I will get sick and inconvenience my nearest and dearest, cost our beleaguered health service a foolish amount for treatment that merely delays the inevitable. When it is my time to leave this earth may I depart quickly and quietly, no fuss as I slip away. I worry that I will waste other’s time and money.
I worry about letting my family down, about not fulfilling my duties as wife and mother. I worry that I have lost whatever it was that drew my husband to marry me, that I have allowed it to be submerged under all of my worries.
Shortly after my second child was born I went to the supermarket with my toddler daughter and young baby. When we returned I parked my car in the driveway of our home and carried the sleeping infant to his crib before returning to unload the bags of groceries. My daughter had climbed out of the car and, in my mind’s eye, had accompanied me into the house. Now she was nowhere to be seen.
I searched the house, checked the car, walked around the garden calling for her. I looked up and down our road and in neighbour’s driveways. From a mild irritation that she had not followed me as expected I moved to a concern over where she could have gone. It did not take long for full blown panic to set in. Retrieving her brother from his crib I locked the house and set off on a frantic search.
I worried. I worried that she would wander in front of a car, that she would fall in a pond, that some stranger would see my beautiful little child and whisk her away from me forever. I worried about how on earth I would explain to my husband that I had lost his beloved daughter. I had one job, one important job, and I had failed.
This story has a happy ending. A stranger had noticed my little girl as she toddled alone down a neighbouring street. He saw me and stopped to ask if I was looking for this child, pointing me in the right direction; stranger need not always mean danger. As I rushed to find her a friend who had been watching for me came out of her house with my daughter. She had seen her alone, known this was not as it should be, and taken her in to safety until I could be located. She offered me a brandy, concerned at my shaking and ghostly face.
I worry about being responsible, about doing the wrong thing. I worry that I will make a decision to act and it will not be what was expected or required. I worry about being blamed.
And I am blamed: for preparing and cooking the same boring meals or presenting a change that is not enjoyed; for trying to discuss a topic when my detailed knowledge is lacking; for not being as smart as my former achievements suggest I should be. I am berated for not fitting enough approved activities into my day or for not being always available and willing to do as others wish. I am blamed for not meeting the expectations that they have of me.
Occasionally I will book outings for myself to events that do not interest those I love. I work hard to minimise the inconvenience this causes them but still worry at my selfishness.
When did I get like this? When did the smart, independent, young woman I used to be turn into this worrier?
Perhaps I would worry more if I did not recall that that smart, independent, young woman had her own, very different demons to contend with. My worries are a burden, but only because I am no longer so alone.