I was told I worry too much. Of course I do. It's a side effect of anxiety, but actually I have always been this way. I can't recall a time when I didn't worry. As the oldest child I was always worried about my siblings. It was my responsibility to look after them a lot of the time and I would get the blame if anything happened to them on my watch. I also blamed myself if they got injured or if anyone did them wrong. I don't know why. I was also the typical worried first time Mum, protecting Brown Bear with a tigress' instinct. Woe betide anyone who fell foul of me in my first year of parenting, I was permanently worried. Then there was the whole adoption process and Blue Bear coming to live with us - that was fraught with worry. It's only now - more than three years later - that I can breathe and look at him and smile with happiness that he's happy and funny and boisterous like his brother. I do still worry, just about different things. It's who I am.
Is it possible to think too much ? I've always been told I do, so it's probably true. Of course I think too much. I wasn't one of cool kids, I wasn't popular and I was never a great beauty so I had plenty of time to think. I didn't have that instant appeal that cuts through having to make any effort. I learned to observe, to notice and to comment on life. My friend Ajay once said to me, "average looking people like us have to make more of an effort." I happen to think he's well above average looking, but that's not the point here. Really beautiful folk often don't have to try hard in life, with people flocking to them and being nice to them. The rest of us don't occupy that privileged place, so we have other skills. Mine is to analyse and try to make sense of the world around me. It's not for everyone.
For years I took offence at the assertion that I talk too much. I do, but I didn't like to hear it. I would fill silences with inane chat, make small talk and just talk over people all the time. I drove myself crazy with it, so I can imagine how much it bothered other people. It's not because I think I'm interesting or anything, it's nerves. If I have to keep filling the gaps with chatter it's because I'm uncomfortable. I have learned to stop and just let silence be. I also realised some years ago that people like to be heard so I learned to listen and reflect back what they said. It can be unsettling when they notice I haven't just been nodding along, waiting for a gap in the conversation to say my bit. I've actually heard what they've been saying and am responding to it.
I do too much. Ok this one I will admit to. I don't like to let anyone down so if I've said I'm going to do something I will do it. Even if it's to my own detriment. If it has a negative impact on those I love then I get annoyed with myself, but I will always try to do whatever I'm asked. This comes down to being unable to say no. I've read the books, I've got the prompts on the fridge door, I've even done mantras about it. I still struggle to say no. I practise on my children, it doesn't help. The people-pleaser part of me is much too established. However much I try, the instinct to say yes to everything is stronger than the realisation that I need to take care of myself.
So this week, when a friend sent me flowers and a message saying she was worried about me it touched my heart. Another assured me if I wanted to talk or not talk, be serious or silly she was there for me. When Hubbie said I needed to rest I realised he was worrying about me. When my Mum thanked me for taking the time to be around (why wouldn't I ?) it reminded me that I'm still her baby. More that anything it made me feel noticed. There was no criticism of me for not doing something or for being too much anything. It was genuine concern and kindness. I don't often need or ask for anything from others. I don't like to take or to impose.
How much is too much ? Well when it comes to feeling cared about it would appear there's no such thing.