I am ashamed. I am ashamed of what I used to let stress me out.
BC (Before Cancer) I could get wound up tight about the simplest things, stupid stuff that just did not matter. Now, very little makes me tense.
I believe my stress level is less because I realize that there is almost nothing worse that could happen to me in this lifetime. Sure, I could lose a child or I could myself become ill, but other than that, there is nothing you could throw at me that would be more stressful or that could hurt me more than the loss of my wife. And I’m not convinced that my own death wouldn’t have been easier if heaven is the alternative to life here on this earth.
What could hurt me worse?
*Job loss? Nope
*Someone robs my house? Nope
*Lose an arm? Nope
*Child grows up to marry a louse? Well…nope
*A snake crawls on my dashboard? Nope
*I’m forced to bungee jump? Nope
*Someone else at work gets my next promotion? Nope
*The stock market crashes and I lose all of my investments? Nope
All of those things are bad, some are really bad, but I can handle them. I sat in a room and watched the person I loved the most in this world take her last breath at age 39, knowing I had to return home to tell my daughters their mother was dead. Very little compares with that.
I’m embarrassed about the stupid little things I used to stress over. My house was dirty, my grass was dead, I had a lot to do at work – who cares?
When I picked the kids up on the first day of school this year, Stephanie got in the car and announced that this was the worst day of her life. She teared up that morning when I dropped her off at her home room. Lisa worked at the school and returning after a full summer away had to be hard. Not only did she start school, but she had to go to Lisa’s old office to take a math placement test that she’d missed the week before. It was clearly a tough day.
When I asked her why her day was so bad, she shared that she couldn’t get her locker open and that they had replaced potato chips with carrots on the school lunch menu (that would shake me up too!) But I said to Stephanie, “I can assure you this was not the worst day of your life. I am hopeful that the worst day of all of our lives has passed. Let’s put this into perspective.
Michelle agreed with me and there was no more discussion about this most horrible day.
The next evening when we got home, Michelle announced that she had forgotten her math book and therefore she could not complete her homework assignment.
I said in a very dad like voice, “Michelle…” And before I could light into her she blurted out, “Mom dying, big deal! Forgetting homework, not a big deal!” And stomped out of the room while DJ and Stephanie doubled over in laughter.
Losing someone you love – BIG DEAL! All of the other stuff we spend countless hours worrying about – NOT a big deal.
Get rid of the stress for things that aren’t worthy. Save your anxiety for stuff that is really important.