“Worries,” somebody explained to me at the gym recently, while I pedalled away on a stationery bike, “don’t go away when you get older. If anything, they get worse. I used to think they would disappear when the children were older, but they didn’t.”
Worries have shapes. Some are circular: the strange noise of the car’s engine, will there be time to get to the garage tomorrow, who will fetch the child, eczema, no milk, the strange noise of the car. Others are straight lines: the strange noise of the car’s engine, the odd pain in your knee, bone cancer, death.
The professionals who make the most money from worriers are probably doctors and psychologists. Or perhaps they are insurance salespeople.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy suggests various strategies for dealing with worries like thought scheduling. When you’re getting obsessive about something, you’re meant to stop the thought and schedule the worry for a specific time, for example, between five and six in the evening. How come scheduling sex supposedly makes the sex more intense (the anticipation?), whereas scheduling worries makes them less feverish?
Another way to stop worrying is by focusing on the present, being mindful. It does sort of work. Worrying is about the future.
The worst worries of all are the ones that strike between two and four in the morning.
The designated worrier in the family is the one with the to-do lists: the family manager. It’s generally the mother.
It strange that the word ‘worrier’ and ‘warrior’ are homophones. Might fighting be a solution to worrying?
All worries have the same centre. Mary Gaitskill, in an interview in the Believer, poetically describes what I consider to be this centre: “…we’re going to fall apart, kind of dissolve back into this vast soup from whence we came, whatever that is. It’s almost like these beings pop out of this massive sludge and then they get sucked back into it, and that’s a really hard thing to comprehend.”
Although a survey reports that our biggest worry is actually about our stomachs – and whether we are overweight.