Thieving Thursday: How Crazy Am I?

>> Thursday, July 16, 2009

My sister, Shakespearemom, who writes a pretty nifty blog of her own wrote what I would call a series of blogs talking about (to my mind) ways to reduce stress and appreciate your life: Worst Case Scenario, Mini-Vacation and Nightmare. In each of them, she suggests activities that any rational person ought to be able to do.

After having tried my hand at all three of them, it becomes belatedly clear that I’m insane.

On the first one, and I have to apologize, I lied and I knew when I wrote it was a lie, but I had a reason for that which I’ll touch on in a minute. Sorry, Sis. Things going the way they are now (status quo) is an unhappy future, but hardly worst case. I’m gainfully employed. My husband, children, and myself are all healthy and relatively happy. I have a home, transportation, and a reasonable mortgage with no ugly surprises waiting for me. I’m lucky.

There are a number of really bad things that could happen with losing my job being the least of them. But, as soon as I went down the path of “worst case,” I shied away. Again, I’ll explain why in a minute.

On the second one, Shakespearemom recommended taking five minutes to envision a place and activity that gave you joy, picturing for herself a place of calm and beauty where she could do something she loved. Did I do that? Sorry, no. Despite having a sedentary lifestyle, my daydreams always circle back to saving the world or at least a corner of it. Some of the dreams are bigger than others, but they’re all characterized by being bigger than I am in real life. Very Walter Mitty. If you ever read my fiction, believe me, you’ll get a front row view of the sort of nonsense that fills my daydreams, but it doesn’t make me seem very sane.

On the third, the call was to assume that worst case scenario, imagine it, and then relax as you realize how much better your life is. And I tried, but I couldn’t do it, not because I couldn’t imagine it, but because I could imagine it too well. I only had to think of worst case and instantly I’m imagining finding my daughter, roasted by the heat, in the back baby seat where I’d forgotten her or my son so anxious to go swimming in the back yard that he climbs into the second story window and pushes his way out or a call from my daughter’s stepmother telling me about the accident where my ex was driving and my daughter was passenger. I’m not talking about imagining them in the abstract. I can hear voices, smell blood…my heart speeds up and my lungs back up. And I can’t think of what to do next because I’m paralyzed in the nightmare.

Clearly, I can’t do anything like a normal person.


  • Aron Sora

    I think your sister's ideas can be used very well by extroverts. If you are an introvert, then you are already in your head so much that you take these mini-vacations de-facto. If you are an introvert, you already over analyzed everything and found a whole spectrum of worst-case scenarios.

    I just read "The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World", that book will do a much better job at explaining why you are not insane then I can.

  • Roy

    I don't think you're insane. Those worst-case scenarios in the last paragraph - no matter how vivid the imagery, the smells, the sounds - are every parent's nightmare. And I'll be willing to bet you won't find a mother in the country reading that who isn't nodding her head in agreement with your description. You're not insane, you're a mother.

  • flit

    I imagine it is that skill that makes you an effective fiction writer - even if you are also a geek :)

  • The Mother

    I can't do that, either, and I'm definitely not insane. Weird, probably, but not insane. I think Aron's comment is quite compelling--we introverts DO spend a lot of time in our own heads.

    But because of that, we really don't want to do negative imagery. It's like living in a garbage dump.

    I keep my head as clean as possible. My house may be a mess, but my brain is all rosy. And if my life isn't, there's always somewhere to escape to.

  • Shakespeare

    I can't say I'm an extrovert, but I may very well do the opposite of The Mother. My house is clean, but my head is a mess. Ask me what I'm thinking at any given moment, and I could go on for five minutes.

    Ask my husband, and he'll say, "Nothing." And I've learned over the years that this is a true statement. If he can empty his mind, he will. But if you really want him to think of something, he can do it with focus and precision (though not with speed).

    Sorry the activities made you believe you were insane. Perhaps, in imagining the worst, I place limitations on my own explorations, so that the worst nightmares do not even come to mind.

  • Stephanie B

    Oh, Shakespeare, they didn't make me think I was insane - I've thought that for decades. I guess it was sort of confirmation...

  • Relax Max

    I don't think you are insane either.

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