'Crazy': the old normal

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Years ago, I was terrified of flying.

You wouldn’t have wanted to sit by me in an airplane because, if you weren’t already nervous, my white-knuckled grip of the arm rest and my yelping at every strange noise or shake of the plane would have made you nearly as crazy as I was.

One time got on a plane — it was the first of four flights over the course of a weekend — I got ready for my usual fear-fueled meltdown, but it didn’t happen.

I wasn’t afraid one bit.

“It’s a fluke,” I told myself. “I’ll be afraid on the next flight and everything will be back to normal.”

But I wasn’t afraid on the second flight nor the third nor the fourth.

It felt odd, this sense of peace, not at all normal. On the third flight I actually tried to get my fear back, since that, to me, was normal.

But I couldn’t get it back, no matter how hard I tried. It was gone — poof!

I haven’t been afraid of flying since and I’ve stopped trying to get my fear of it back.

Because that’s just crazy.

But it seems I have to have some place for my crazy to go, so I transferred my craziness to my kids and perfected the art of worrying about their every breath.

Too bad I can’t make worry a career because I’m very good at it.

Years went by and eventually I realized that worrying and fretting and controlling and hovering over them and inserting myself in their business, especially now that they’re both adults, was not just not a good thing, but was actually a damaging thing.

So, I tried to not be that way, but crazy can’t easily be cured by trying.

A couple of years ago, when things had gotten beyond unmanageable, as I sat in a pastor-friend’s office, telling him my latest worry du jour about one off my daughters, he said, “Let go. Give her to God — give it all to God.”

Well, that was not what I wanted to hear and I proceeded to throw an epic hissy fit, yelling at the pastor and crying, what Oprah calls “ugly crying.”

I wasn’t hissy fitting at him, but at God, because I had known all these years that God was trying to unclench my tight-fisted grip on my daughter’s life, trying with all my might to get her to make the right decisions. I had been trying to save her, but failing miserably.

Because it’s not my job to save her.

God had been telling me to let go of her, that I was interfering in what he needed to do, that it was time to butt out, mind my own business, to stop bailing her out, to let her fall or fail, if that’s what she needed.

And to trust him to take care of her — and me too.

It’s not that I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t know how. I only knew how to do what I had always done.

But then something happened that I can’t explain. Somewhere in the yelling and the ugly crying, I let go. I gave my fear and worry to God. It was gone — poof!

Months went by and I got better and better at not being a hovering, uber-parent. I’ve actually been doing well at minding my own business and not everyone else’s.


But, last week I must’ve decided I was tired of feeling peaceful and happy and sane, because I started trying to get my fear and worry and obsessive thinking about my daughter back, which, in case you’re wondering, is not nearly as difficult as trying to get my fear of flying back — it actually worked.

So, this past week I’ve been imagining worst-case scenarios and feeling worn and frazzled and about to crash and burn over things I have zero control over.

Because that’s my normal.

Even so, I’m pretty sure this is just a temporary setback, because I’m already starting to miss the peace of giving it all to God.

The other day I wrote down all my worries -- it was a long list. As I read it over, I realized I could not fix one thing on the list, but that God could fix them all, and fix them better than I could ever imagine.

So, I let it go — again.

Pray for me, won’t you? I seriously need a new normal and I don’t like crazy as much as I used to.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.