Anxiety: A Paradox

Well, this is strange. In the weeks and days leading up to my recent CT, I was a quivering mess of anxiety and drama. I divided my time between obsessively cleaning my house and taking advantage of the kind and patient emotional support of my long-suffering friends. (You know who you are – thank you!)

Now here’s the thing. I had the scan two days ago, and I don’t have the results yet. I still don’t know if the mets has reached my brain, yet I am calm and focused. I banged out two translations in the last two days with no fuss and no muss, even though they were from my L4 to L1. This morning I quietly and easily did the usual morning things, and now I’m waiting for the grocery delivery and writing a self-indulgent, navel-gazing blog post.

What happened to the anxiety?

I don’t know any more about my health than I did last week. The scan itself wasn’t threatening or frightening, and I bypassed the tedious (and nervous-making) administrative hoops by paying for it out of pocket. (Relax, Americans. It is far less expensive in Israel than in the US.) Yet, now that it’s over, the anxiety has just dissipated like early morning mists in the light of day.

Thinking this over (or over-thinking this), I find myself remembering one of my favorite Psalms (131:1-2 NIV):

My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.

I wonder if, having done everything that is in my power to do in this scary situation, I have somehow “turned it over”, relaxed my white-knuckled hold on events and stepped back, “calmed and quieted myself” in this “great matter” of my health, my future.

I cannot control anything now. In a few days I’ll have the results of the test, and will be that much closer to knowing what’s going on with me. I’m not scared of cancer; we’ve been living together too long now for that. I am scared of losing my independence, my individuality, my identity. But somehow the truth that being anxious and dramatic will not shorten the time I have to wait for a diagnosis has pushed through the layers and layers of my psychological defenses and reached my core belief: God is good, and I am important to him.

As Julian of Norwich famously said, “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” I’ll close with that.

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