It affects my relationships to the point I’m unable to hear what you’re saying, let alone comprehend it. It takes the enjoyment out of moments, and I’m less observant of my environment. It’s like a leech sucking the blood, little by little, and dehydrating my happiness. It takes my energy, my focus and my ability to pursue the good in things. It consumes my every thought, and drains me emotionally. It kills me.
It’s called Worry, my imaginary friend that overstays his welcome after finagling his way in. If he stays too long he’ll get cozy, acting as if this place is his. Eventually he’ll invite his friends; Guilt, Shame, Doubt and Fear. This is the start of a pity party, and I have no problem being the party pooper.
My main worry is not having a vehicle and having no money to repair it. This past weekend with the girls, my car crapped out on me twice. Saturday morning the battery indicator light came on and the car began to lose all electrical power like a human with a severed artery. I literally had seconds to get it to an auto repair place, and I was barely able to make it. The auto shop replaced the battery for $200, money that I truly needed before the next payday but it had to be spent.
Then Sunday evening, while my youngest daughter and I are driving through the mountains, an area known to have no cell service, my stupid car does it again. This time I was in a bind. I was five miles from reaching cell coverage on a skinny two-way winding road. There was no choice but to run this car out as far as it would go, hoping to reach a cell signal. Every uphill was a battle; every downhill was an opportunity to gain speed. We ran a stop sign to keep the momentum going. All I could think was this: The battery is not the problem. Awesome.
We made it to the top of a hill, at the border of cell service and none, and then silence. The car is done. It’s got nothing. All the gauge needles were resting in their starting positions. The only light left on the dash was the battery indicator. There was only one thing left to do: Put it in neutral and let gravity take over. While the tires fraternized with the pavement and the mumbles of a child asking questions I cannot hear, my worries intensified. We coasted about a mile or so down to an area with a lonely bus stop and spotty cell service. Stuck at the mercy of a tow truck.
I called roadside assistance, and since we were so far from home, it cost me $260 to have it towed. Ugh. I called my daughter’s mom to see if she could pick her up. I had no clue when the tow truck would show. The little trooper didn’t want to leave me and she cried when her mom showed up. She asked her mom if I was going to be okay, making sure I wouldn’t be stuck out there. She wanted to ride this out with me. She was starting Kindergarten the next day, and any other day I would have let her ride in the tow truck, just for the experience, but the next day was an important one for her. One of the things she said to me, and I’ll never forget it, “Dad,” in her stern, serious voice, “you should have brought your guitar,” not knowing that it was stolen a couple of weeks ago, yet still, perfect words that made me smile.
She could see the worry on my sleeve, the frustration of having a useless car and the lack of funds to remedy the situation. I was thinking about tomorrow and the week ahead and how I was going to make it. I was living in the imaginary world where Worry keeps me company, and robs me of the best gift of all, my presence, especially when I’m with my children. Knowing that she knows how much I love playing guitar, and though I don’t have one at the moment, the thought of her wanting me to have mine made me smile. All I wanted was a car that would get us home, and all she wanted was for me to be happy.
There have been so many times that my worries take me away from who I am, and especially at those times I am with my children. It’s really not fair to them. Those moments when I have $20 to my name, picking up the girls for a weekend and thinking, “What the hell am I going to do?” It’s those moments when they say, “Dad, dad, dad, dad, dad,” and I respond in frustration with something like, “What?!” It’s those moments when my shirt is being tugged for attention and I tell them they’re stretching out my shirt, even though I don’t really care for nice clothes. I’m living in an imaginary world full of my own pities.
In the end, everything works out; it always does, it always will and it always has. The time I’ve wasted in worry not only creates more undue stress, it causes negativity and unconsciousness; like a death of me, except my body is still ticking. Worry changes me instantly, causing me to live in my head and not through my heart. It creates more obstacles by the negative imagery of what’s to come, but has not happened and might never happen. There is no good in living in a worried state of mind. Though I’m pretty much flat broke and without a car, still waiting for the estimate from my mechanic, I’m exactly where I need to be, worry-free.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to her first day of Kindergarten because I didn’t have a way to get there, but I’m not worried about it. We had the best day-before Kindergarten that we’ll never forget. Here are a few pictures from earlier in that day, in our worry-free states of mind.
Thank you for reading, I hope I stole any worries you might have, if just for a moment.