It's been about two weeks since I last posted. I clearly remember April 19th. Sitting on my living room couch and aware of my cat hunched over in pain, I read the next question for my quest (see #6 above). After reading it, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach because at that moment, I was truly gripped in worry and fear.
It's a weird thing to ask somebody to quantify actual manifestations of worries and fears. Those aren't things that most of us calculate. I don't sit around thinking that I'm due for that plane crash or for a spider to set up house in my ear canal while I sleep. Sometimes worries and fears sneak up on us and catch us completely by surprise. Other times, we see them coming, and the dread is palpable.
The latter was the case with me on April 19th. My cat, Chloe, had been ill all weekend. He was informally diagnosed with cancer about a year ago ("informally" meaning an educated veterinary guess). I knew in my heart that I would say goodbye to him the following day, as soon as I could get a vet appointment. I worried for him - hoping to ease his pain and to provide him comfort. I worried about making the decision to terminate his life. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to do it, and that I would allow him to suffer for my own selfish reasons. As I forced him to drink water out of a medicine dropper and listened to him struggle to purr, I worried.
After Chloe's passing, I just couldn't focus on writing about worries and fears. Nevertheless, over the following two weeks I still mulled over how I would answer this question. I think my answer is this: I don't know. I don't know because my biggest worries and fears are situational. They happen in the moment, and it's only after their occurrence that I can name them.
I'm not remotely a psychologist, but I think that fear and worry often take root when we give them legitimacy. That's not to say that bad things are illusory or imaginary. Bad things happen. It's natural to fearfully anticipate grief and heartache, and to worry. But it's also liberating to recognize that for a lot of worry and fear, we are the ones with the power to make mental space for it, or not.
A fact about me: I used to be a worrier. I gave legitimacy to all kinds of things that I had no control over. I worried about money, my health, other people's health, my relationships, other people's relationships, my job, what people thought of me, etc. Hardly any of the things I worried about ever came to pass, but real grief and heartache did. Worry and fear is crazy powerful that way - it can be completely destructive, whether or not what you're worrying about actually ever comes true.
It doesn't make sense to prematurely mourn for something that has not and may not even happen. Worrying isn't good for you. Period. And truth be told, I'm not a fan of this question either. Let's not waste our mental energy cataloguing worry and fear. Be warriors for good, friends, not good worriers.