Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Fear and loathing in the muddled mind of a middle-aged mother.

I was out powerwalking the other evening and I'd taken a short cut across the golf course near our house. As it was evening I guessed it wouldn't be too busy and was pondering the previous time I'd wandered too far along the path and been met with a chain across the dead end that warned 'no public right of way.' As I started to walk back uphill I became slightly anxious as I had low battery on my phone and my feet were getting tired. In my head I saw myself twisting my ankle, being stranded and not being able to call home or for help. As I quickened my pace it became more and more of a worry until as I got back to the top and found a path that I could get back home from. It was this path I was on when the following occasion I saw a golfer waving at me to tell me off for walking through the course. The irony made me laugh. I'd been so concerned about the catastrophe that could happen that I hadn't considered the issue that would catch me out - the tartan legged 'sportsman' showing his son how to use a 5 iron.

A 'cat'astrophe ? 
It's this catastrophic thinking that makes my life a constant worry. I can't stop myself - in idle moments - from taking a mental walk to the least desirable outcome. It takes time to realise that I have worked myself up about absolutely nothing, but I know I'm not alone in thinking every siren is a bad news one for me when Hubbie isn't home yet. During a recent spate of burglaries in our area I actually spent every minute I was out of the house worrying about it. While it would take a lot of pages to list all of my insanity I've decided to share the most irrational ones for your amusement.

1.  Hubbie and I had only been dating for a few months and I was going away with friends on a skiing holiday. We were going to Whistler for two weeks and I was thinking of asking Hubbie-to-be to flat sit for me. I kind of knew he could be trusted, but there was still a nagging thought maybe I didn't know him that well. I mean those people he'd introduced to me as his parents could have been actors he'd hired and maybe it was all an elaborate con trick ? Of course it was all fine (as evidenced by that fact we're married now) and the actual problem that occured was one I hadn't even considered. It was when we were in Heathrow waiting to check in our bags that one of our party decided to tell me that I needed to have at least 6 months on my passport to visit Canada and I only had around 4 months on mine. I spent the entire flight expecting to be immediately deported while Harriet kept saying she'd just show them her police warrant card (I'm not sure what that would actually do). As I was preoccupied with this drama I didn't even have time to realistically consider that I wouldn't have been allowed on the flight in the first place if it was an issue. The plus side was that with this nonsense to occupy my mind I forgot about my fear of planes.

2. I used to work in a job that took me all over the UK and at one point I visited Cornwall for the first time and while there I picked up a leaflet about surfing. Convinced that I should try it I booked myself onto a surfing course in Cornwall and paid a deposit to secure my place. I was going alone, but the accommodation was in a shared hostel so I was bound to make friends. About a week before I bottled it and cancelled. I'd gone from "it'll be great, just like Blue Juice and everyone knows it's always sunny in Cornwall" to "I'll break something or drown, they will all be fit and blonde and I'll be small, dumpy and clumsy." I still haven't gone back. Of course now I'm obsessed with Hawaii 5-O and Alex O'Loughlin so I may have to revisit this plan.

3. It was for similar reasons that I didn't get too far with my fledgling stand up career. I did a course in the early '90's when it was all the rage. Some of my fellow students actually went on to become something on the circuit. I, however, struggled to write material, talked over the laughs (if I got any) and just felt terribly embarrassed. The entire premise of failing at comedy is that you 'die' on stage and that has to be the ultimate in catastrophe thinking surely ? I mean, who wants to die in front of a room full of strangers ? At least with impro you have a group of people to share the laughs and the silences with and I'm still friends with some of my impro pals.

By far the worst of my catastrophe thinking involves my beloved son. Every new scenario is fraught with potential fears, but the example I've chosen is particularly bonkers:

3. I've taken my boy to a playgroup called Little lions since he was 4 months old and it's a lovely group of Mums and babies with the occasional special day with pampering for Mums. On one of these days I had booked to have a treatment for which I had to go downstairs to the beauty room. My boy was about 6 months and would sometimes cry if he lost sight of me so the other Mums reassured me he'd be fine and they would keep an eye on him and bring him down if he got too upset. While I settled onto the beauty couch I tried to relax, but the thoughts whirring round my head included, 'I don't really know these people, What if they are baby snatchers ? What if they steal my baby ? I don't know where any of them live. I don't know anyone's last name.' etc. etc. Needless to say he was fine and I had spent my pampering time winding myself up into a frenzy of fear for nothing.

All this self-induced trauma does is give me sleepless nights. I know that's part and parcel of parenting, but what was my excuse before I had my son ? The positive in all of this is that I am so very grateful that the things I worry about are just a figment of my fevered imagination. If it stays in that realm I am a very lucky woman indeed.

1 comment:

  1. 3. I think you were very brave to attempt stand up comedy. At least you tried. I wouldn't even dare try.