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The Worry That Never Ends
There's something morbid that I've been thinking about lately and it really bothers me.

Let me give you some background first - I've always been pretty realistic negative. When I was younger, I found that being negative was a great way to keep myself from being overly disappointed about a test score or my performance in a swim meet. Before the test, event, date, or whatever, I'd simply imagine the very worst happening. In my daydream I'd get an F on my Calculus test, I'd come in dead last in the 100 yard breaststroke with half the school watching, or I'd throw up all over my date for the Homecoming dance. Then, if I got anything less than what I really expected of myself - an A, 1st place, and being a fabulous dating companion - I'd think well, hell, it could have been much worse. And I somehow thought that thinking the worst would actually make it easier if it ever really happened. Of course, it never did.

I still do this. The night before an important hearing, meeting, or trial, I'll picture myself falling flat on my face, forgetting how to speak (let alone doing it in a persuasive manner), or making an ass of myself in front of a judge, colleagues, a client, or all three at once! For the record, I've only forgotten how to speak in court once (one of my first times) for about 10 minutes 10 seconds. It felt like an eternity but it was by no means as bad as I had imagined it.

But I also imagine the worst in ways that I wish I didn't. I sometimes imagine horrible things happening to the people I love most. T dies in a fiery car wreck when I'm a bit worried that he's late getting home. My parents, flying across the country to see us, plummet to their deaths in a freak airline disaster caused by a domestic terrorist who has concocted some way to bring the plane down with 2 ounces of bottled water and a nail file. And the worst - I drive over the high rise bridge near my house, am hit by an oncoming car, pushed off the bridge, and we plummet down to the surface of the water. Then, if I happen to be conscious in the daydream, I try futilely to figure out how to get 2 children under 3 out of their car seats and swim us to the surface before we all drown. My own horrible little Sophie's Choice.

Now don't worry, there's really no reason to call the Crisis Suicide Hot Line or anything. I don't dwell overly on these horrid little tableaus. In fact, they flash through my mind in 30 seconds or so and I mentally stomp them into ashes. I'm not quite ready for the psych ward, or even a nice Xanax prescription. I just worry about the people I love. I can't really imagine anything happening to them, especially my children, or how I would react. It's astounding how much scarier the outside world becomes once you become a parent, isn't it? I think that my horrid daydreams are a reaction to that. A way to try to prepare myself for the worst and somehow make it easier if it happens. Of course, we all know that it never really will.

So now that I've dumped my neuroses onto the Internet, I need to sneak upstairs and kiss my little boys. I truly am blessed.

On a completely unrelated topic, I have this nifty little monitoring service called Google Analytics. I've actually posted about it here before. Not only does it tell me interesting things like key words picked up by search engines, it also tracks daily visitors by such features as specific geographical location and domain name. So if, say, someone from my past felt it necessary to obsessively check my blog several times a day, I would know about it. I'm just saying.

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Anonymous Kristin said...

You just described ME! I am exactly like that..everyone is always calling me negative, but I am always saying that I'm just being realistic. Same as you..I don't dwell on that stuff all the time, but it definitely comes up in my thinking.

Oh..and the thought of trying to get three (soon to be 4) kids out of carseats at the bottom of some lake freaks me out too.

Anonymous Kristin said...

One more thing..just be sure that your "obsessive blog checker" isn't yourself!! I know someone who made that mistake before..and deleted her whole entire blog...


Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Kristin - It's so good to know it's not just me!

And no, the checker isn't me. The person the comment is directed at will know it! You should start your blog back up. I miss reading your updates.

Anonymous Kim said...

I only recently started reading your blog, and I'm enjoying it very much! Mostly because I'm a mom and a litigation lawyer as well. I love seeing how others have navigated this little combo (and you seem to be doing it very well).

I have these macbre thoughts as well. Except I've turned it into this horrible coping mechanism. I'll imagine the hubster dead on the side of the road and I'll mentally plan what I would do about it. This means I spend more than about 30 seconds on it, but I feel better somehow just knowing that I have a plan to go with should it happen.

I completely shut down when it comes to what I would do if something were to happen to either of my little ones--much less if I had some sort of Sophie's choice to make. I can't plan for that because I'm not sure how I would survive. This lovely thought was triggered by a story I read out of the Tsunami disaster. Some mother had to let go of one of her children becuase if she tried to hold on to both of them, they would all perish. She chose to let the oldest go because, she reasoned, he was stronger. Miraculously, she and her youngest survived as did her oldest. I cried for a week (and still shed a tear just writing about it).

Blogger ExPatSW said...

Oh dear God, you are SOOOO related to me! Do you think it's genetic?!

I'm dying to know....is the blog-stalker who I think it is?

Anonymous Lawyer Mama said...

Kim - Oh my GOD, that's horrible! Stories like that absolutely horrify me. It's good to hear from someone else who's trying to do everything too. Thanks for stopping by.

P - I sent you an email & yes, I think it is genetic. (-:

Anonymous Amanda Lee said...

Hey Steph. I'm really glad I decided to check out your blog today as I also do the exact same thing and always have. And I do it for the same reason-I'd rather expect the worse than to expect the best and be disappointed. Garry (dh) hates that I'm such a worrier.

Anonymous Kat said...

Holy moley!!! I just found your blog a few weeks ago and I am so glad I did! I thought I was the only one! I actually drive in the far lane of the interstate when we pass a lake that comes right up to the one side of the road. I felt ok when it was just one I had to get out of a car seat, but ever since it became two I keep running scenarios through my head "just in case." Also, I still keep a fire extinguisher in my bedroom in case I have to fight through the flames to get to one and/or both of them. That has been there since my oldest was 2 months old. He's now three. My husband thinks I am insane. You have no idea how much better I feel!!

Blogger Gunfighter said...


I am sooo not a worrier, but I have to tell you that I have subscribed to ggogle analytics, and it ROCKS, baby!

Thanks for the headsup!


Blogger Rachel Emma said...

Hi, I have just found your blog and i'm really enjoying it. You so reminded me of myself when you said you have these bad thoughts i always have them they don't last long like you said, and then you manage to get rid of them. The only problem for me is that i've got cancer so it makes me play out different senarios in my head of what could happen. It's nice to know i'm not the only one which i seriously thought i was.

Take Care,
Rachel Emma

Blogger PunditMom said...

You aren't alone, LM. Especially when it comes to the airplane plummeting or the car in the water scenario. Sometimes, I think about buying the "Worst Case Scenario Handbook" so I'll have some advice before one of these disasters strike!

And, yes, I've had the same thing happen in court, too ... it DID feel like ten minutes!

I'm off to check out Google Analytics!

Breathe, breathe!

Blogger ewe are here said...

I thought I was the only one who did this: imagines the worst and tries to figure out how I would cope with it. I like to think of it as being prepared.

Blogger Meena said...

Oh, not alone at all! I have the car over the bridge thought more than I'd like to admit - the bridge I cross daily to get into work. A woman actually did drive off the bridge (accident), fortunately she was alone. But it makes me almost ill to think about what I'd do. There I go, thinking about it...must think of something else...

Right before our first child was born, my hubby freaked himself out b/c he kept having those freakish thoughts (i.e., "what if I crashed this car into oncoming traffic?", "what if I majorly cut myself while chopping this onion?") and he was scared that he was going to make the event happen. He even saw a therapist b/c it was causing him so much worry. Turns out it was probably related to his anxiety about the birth of our first child. But I think, in general, those thoughts are VERY normal.

Blogger bubandpie said...

Have you read about defensive pessimism? What you described is a perfect case - reducing your performance anxiety by picturing worst-case scenarios: it's actually a healthy and good way to cope with stress. I wonder if it's correlated to the propensity you described for morbid thoughts. I don't get those often, but there are certain triggers (especially movies) that I avoid.

Blogger Sarcasta-mom said...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog, and this one hit home with me. It's always nice to other moms have the same paranoid daydreams that I do....

Blogger PT-LawMom said...

You beat me! I spent all day Friday sobbing as I read a book that in part had a kidnapped three year-old and I could barely make it through the book thinking about what I'd do if that happened to Pumpkinhead. I, too, do the negative thinking thing and consider it sort of a "planning" mechanism. Maybe it's common to the personality types that gravitate toward the field of law? My husband has a risky job and I am constantly daydreaming (is that too positive a word?) about what would happen if he got maimed or killed at work and what we would do. Sick! I definitely agree that it gets worse once you have kids. I can't stand to read or hear anything about a kid being hurt, kidnapped or, worse, raped. :( Okay, off to hug mine.

P.S. I, too, have Google Analytics and got really paranoid the other day when a similar IP address to that of my large law firm showed up the day after I blogged about my mean attorneys forgetting Secretaries Day. Scary, scary. Deleted that post! Don't want to get fired for blogging!

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