For some stupid reason, I’ve been perusing a blog called “The Extinction Protocol” which basically collates all the horrible things happening in the world wrapped up into one tidy box with a pretty little bow on top. I’m not going to link to it because I’m pretty sure that it is not healthy for me to read it so it’s getting removed from Google Reader sooner rather than later. I harbor no ill will to the author of the blog, nor do I begrudge his choice of subject matter, but after reading more about the Iranian nuclear impasse this morning, I just don’t think reading it serves any purpose for me other than to inflame my already pronounced tendency toward worry and anxiety.
My concerns were heightened even more when I read this article titled “Russia says would be threatened by Iran military action.” The gist of the article is that Russia would consider any military attack on Iran a “direct threat to [their] security.” Naturally, it doesn’t say what their response would be, but these kinds of things speak to very old patterns of anxiety and fears in my brain. I’ve written before about how, as a kid, I was absolutely petrified of nuclear war. I don’t remember when I became cognizant of the threat, but it was something that hung like a specter over me when I let my anxious brain take control. It didn’t help that I watched a lot of The World Tomorrow with Herbert W. Armstrong who constantly spoke about how there would be a nuclear war in his lifetime (for the record, he’s been dead since 1986.) The TV movie, The Day After, didn’t help either. I still remember one Saturday evening when there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the tornado/air-raid sirens went off. I remember my dad saying “well, turn on the news and see if they’re blowing up the world.” As it turned out, it was a tornado drill that had been publicized in the paper, which we would have known about if we hadn’t just gotten back from a 2 week summer vacation.
When I read articles like that, all those kid fears come bubbling right back to the surface, as if they are begging to be acknowledged once again. The same thing happened back in the summer of 2008 when Russia invaded the former Soviet republic of Georgia and that turned out ok although it didn’t stop me from having the same reaction initially. I guess that even though I’m a nearly 40 year old grown adult, you can’t completely take the boy out of me.
I was talking to Heidi about this today and after she got done saying “why are you reading a blog called ‘The Extinction Protocol’ anyway?” we kind of decided that even if you know what the situation is and you know something is going to happen, you can’t know for sure what that something is. I think about my parents who experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis. My mom has told me that they thought that was going to be the end of the world – surely it’s the closest we’ve ever come to it – but we survived that.
I spend a lot of time helping my daughter defuse her anxious thoughts (the apple didn’t fall far from the tree) and in so doing, it helps me defuse my own. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am going to be anxious about things – it is hardwired into my brain and while it would have been very helpful in caveman days to be constantly worried about threats, it’s not so helpful now. Last night, I was talking to Anna and she expressed a pretty significant level of anxiety about global warming and rising sea levels. I had to engage in one of those little half-truths that parents find themselves forced to use so that a child doesn’t worry themselves into an ulcer at age 10 – I told her “Anna, they’ve been talking about that since I was ten!” In my defense, they have been, but I will admit it is more serious now than it was 30 years ago. I told her that instead of being anxious about it, it’s better to use the energy to doing something, no matter how small, to make a difference. I told her that if she really wanted to do something about global warming, she could turn off lights after she left the room. This morning, EVERY light upstairs was turned off, even the ones in Heidi’s office. I fear I may have created a monster.
I don’t know how the Iran thing will turn out. As my father always says, you live in the time in which you were born. It’s times like these that I wish I had faith in something bigger than me. In the meantime, I guess what you do is just recognize the anxious thoughts for what they are – the boy they couldn’t take out of the man – and remember that they are not the boss of me.