Monday, May 10, 2010

Gun Shy

I hadn't realized, until recently, how much the last couple of years have affected my expectations in life. Maybe it's the doom and gloom of the economy, the giant oil slick out in the Gulf, or just me becoming more pessimistic as I age, but I find myself always waiting for the other shoe to drop in life.

I'm really quite happy right now. My former boss called me up and offered me my old job back, the one I had before I went through cancer treatment and then wound up dealing with my father's death and the resulting chaos of the crazy, termite-ridden house he left behind.

Dealing with that house has especially formed my reaction to things.

Now, I just naturally expect for things to go horribly wrong.

I stopped blogging about the house because every post could have been written according to a specific formula: I thought everything was great, and we were done with the house, and then x happened and everything went to hell. I got mad for a few days, got over it and moved on to crisis z.

I've been telling my family for the last three months,"This is the last time I have to go out to the house! I just have to wrap up a few things and then we're DONE!"

I don't think anyone believes me anymore. The last time I spoke those words, I woke up on a Sunday morning at the house to discover that there was leak behind the wall in the bathroom, the one we had just refinished, and the water had seeped through the wall and soaked the carpet....the brand-new carpet we had just had installed a month ago.

We had to yank out the brand-new vanity, fix the pipe, and have the drywall repaired.

It is seriously like a bad joke.

If were a little more paranoid I would think that I was being punk'd. It's too tragi-comical to be real.

So now it seems my fortune has changed. Wondering how I was going to find employment now that I am hopefully done(knock on wood) with health issues, estate issues, and crazy house issues, I had been filled with anxiety. Who was going to hire me? How was I going to find a job in Florida's particularly bad job market?

And boss called me up and offered me a job.

Angels sang. I was grateful. Rainbows spontaneously appeared.

Yet in the back of my head there is this voice saying,"Don't get your hopes up. The funding for this position might dry up. Your boss might decide to skip town, run off to Mexico to join the drug trade, and forget to mention to everyone else at the office that she gave you a job. A sinkhole might open up under the house, swallow it whole and force you to move into the newly-renovated crazy house on the other side of the state. An asteroid might destroy the office of the non-profit you work for erasing any scrap of its existence. You might get the swine flu and die a tragic death, in which case you won't need a job anyway."

I don't like it.

I don't like this curled up fear hiding in the recesses of my mind waiting to strike at any sign of optimism.

Yet...I'm not sure if I can really exterminate it.

Hopefully, my tactic of simply ignoring it will cause it to shrivel up into a dried husk, like the tiny lizards that find their way inside the house and die a quiet death under furniture and in the window sills. I'll be sweeping out my dusty mind and come across the lifeless, perfectly petrified skeleton of my fear and be surprised that I never even heard it pass into non-existence.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

I was about to say I have lived most of my life this way, but realised just now - I don't anymore. I expect that something is going to go wrong, but somehow not horribly wrong. As I used to.

I wish I could tell you how I got here, so you could get started on the right coping skills yourself, but I doubt I really know. That I have weathered a great deal and am still standing is likely part of it. That I have close family who like me, and a circle of about a dozen excellent friends also, is probably a protective factor. They have been Christ to me - a god with skin on - just often enough.

Some difficult thing will probably happen. The likelihood of all of them happening is pretty remote. Screwtape counseled Wormwood to get his patient to worry about a dozen mutually exclusive evils, remember.

Retriever said...

Congratulations on the job offer, Terri! YAY!

Worrying: I do exactly the same thing. I can sometimes restrain myself so as not to sound like a complete Marshwiggle at work (there, I fake perpetual cheeriness and optimism 90 per cent of the time), but at home I am variously labelled Eeyore, Cassandra, Prophet of Doom, Savanarola, etc.

I get really mad at the happy clappy evangelicals I know who say "Worrying about the future is a sign of lack of faith...(as is also hoarding stuff, over-buying at Costco, etc. they say)" I sometimes wonder if they are right. For example, is it really necessary for me to keep winter coats and clothes for all possible size variations of everyone in the family in the attic, plus assorted things bought at the thrift shop for when stuff wears out (we have an amazing thrift shop with very high quality stuff, but if we ever move....).

I got in the habit of worry years ago, after my spouse was first laid off when we were expecting our first kid. None of the disasters I feared ever materialized, and we experienced several more alarming crises, which we survived, with God's help (tho my agnostic spouse would attribute it to his own virtues...:))

I guess I'm a slow learner... having now endured a dozen years of my spouse's unemployment, I no longer am quite as cheerily sure that God will provide as my friends are. I realize this is my spiritual deficiency, as He has in fact supplied us with everything we need and much that we want, despite all my years of gloomy predictions.

I find that certain things particularly set me off on the gloomy predictions stuff. Our house took on 4 feet of water in a Noreaster the day before I went into labor with my youngest. I start zoning out to this day whenever a hurricane or big storm is forecast, absolutely convinced we will be flooded again, sure this time it will be a tsunami or somesuch. That particular fear is obviously just a replay of a genuinely traumatic event. But our other fears?

Sometimes I think it is a residue of years of pre Christian forebears and medieval peasants' superstition and fear of envious neighbors or Gods: if we experience something wonderful, we can avert jealousy or the fates knocking us back to size by exclaiming that something awful (what we deserve) will happen soon. Like putting oneself down, so as not to be thought conceited.

As Avi notes, this is a tendency in humans much exploited by Our Great Enemy. I have imagined more horrible fates than have ever occurred, and never dreamed of the actual misfrtunes that in fact occurred. So worrying didn't even serve the useful purpose of practicing a response.

Ho hum...sorry to go on so...

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Diana, add Gwystyl from Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series to your list.

A stint in Haiti or Sudan is generally curative of name-it-and-claim-it Christianity. I am coming to think that God's provision starts with all the fun stuff when we are immature, but is slowly pared down to Daily. Bread.

terri said...

AVI...sounds like that fear has shriveled up with disuse in you just as I hope it will in me!

Retriever...I never used to be much of a worrier.'s not so much constant worrying as much as it is the fear that I will lose something that I wanted very much.

I've lost various things over the last few years, some of the physical, some of them emotional. I think I just would like to believe in the permanence of good things in my life, without the spectre of loss hanging around.