Addicted to Worry and Illusions of Control

I’ve been doing *the most* lately. And it’s been great, it’s been lovely, it’s been scary, it’s been empowering. The trend has been positive, overall. So why is it so hard for me to stay in a state of joyfulness? Why is it so easy – comfortable, even – for me to provoke my mind into a state of worry and anxiety?

I think I’m addicted to worrying. As a codependent in recovery, I accept that I struggle to maintain illusions of control, when the truth is that I am in control of so very, very little. The things I’m in control of start and end with myself: my thoughts, my words, my behavior, and my actions. That means that I have to take responsibility for the fact that when I find myself drifting into a thoughtful space of happiness, watching the raindrops fall against the Central Public Library windows, I tend to re-focus my thoughts on things that make me feel scared and worried.

I’m realizing that I’m more comfortable being stressed out than I am being relaxed. In the words of Amy Winehouse, what kind of fuckery is this?

I wrote about it in my journal, the way I always do when something is bugging the crap out of me, and I came to the conclusion that I am struggling to accept my lack of control. I have this flawed belief that if I find something to worry about, some mental scab to pick at, that I am in control of things. Wrong! It sucks to realize this about myself – that I sabotage the rare but increasingly frequent moments of real happiness and centered joy by thinking about really random, unrelated things that bring me back to a place of worry.

Anhedonia is a word that means “reduced ability to experience pleasure.” I learned about anhedonia in Jaron Lanier’s book Ten Arguments to Delete Your Social Media Accounts Right Now (Does wordpress count as social media? Uh, I’ll deal with that later.)

It refers to the overall loss of joy that addicts feel when they are in the cycle of addiction.  Essentially, the addict returns to a source of pain in order to find pleasure through the addictive substance. It’s a vicious cycle that from the outside does not add up, but it make sense as to why addicts stay addicted to something that literally brings them more unhappiness than happiness, overall.

In my case, being addicted to worry means that as I try to recover from my cycle of codependency, the anhedonia (reduced ability to experience pleasure) is hella prevalent. Sitting here watching the rain, I feel joy in the beauty of nature, and I feel pleasure in the mere fact of being alive. I see a person on the rooftop of the building across the street, and he looks so tiny up there, staring at the same rainstorm, and I feel pleasure in this shared experience.

I aim to be able to experience these simple, private moments of pleasure for longer periods of time and with greater ease. My codependency brain knocks on the door of my pleasure and says, “Hey, remember this worry that you have? I got it right here for you – don’t forget, or something bad might happen!” It’s just control patterns taking different forms. As I improve my self and my life, my addictions to control (rather, the illusion of control) are feeling – how should I put it – left out. Pretending that I am in control of so much has become so normal, that when I try to live in a less controlling and more trusting manner, the old control patterns ratchet up to Level Ten Anxiety.

How dare I feel joy when there is so much I could pretend to have control over through worrying and fretting? Who am I to experience a moment’s peace when there are a list of things that codependency brain has for me to feel anxious about?

It’s sad, really, but I’m glad to at least be aware of these self-sabotaging tendencies. At least now I can try to combat them, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to go full minutes, and then full hours, maybe even full days in a state of trust.

I want to emphasize that I know worry and anxiety will always find me, and that’s okay. But feeling worried is just that – a feeling. And feelings are transient, like the wind. I want to be mentally strong enough to let feelings of worry wash over me, and wash away, leaving me at peace to enjoy each day.

By justpearlythings

I am a writer, a lover, and a believer in the good things in life. I write about mental health and wellness, along with book reviews and fashion opinions. My blog caters to thoughtful, growth-minded women and men, and offers insights and personal challenges that provide a space for relevant, meaningful connection. The World Wide Web is vast, it contains multitudes, and so do we as people. I believe that through self-awareness and honesty, we create a more loving planet for everyone. Feel free to follow this page and share it with friends and family. Love, Pearl


  1. Fuckery indeed! A friend, also a recovering codependent, and I joke about the our love of chaos. I say joke because it’s one way we overcome the unpleasantness of vulnerability and talk about our feelings, maybe not the healthiest approach but we’re talking so that’s something. We gently call each other out all the time. It’s amazing how often things are plugging along otherwise ok and we start obsessing about something otherwise inconsequential. Like we need a little bit of chaos, it’s somehow the way we feel comfortable. The body and the mind are amazing and adaptable things. Eventually, to survive, we get used to anything. Appreciate your share. It’s nice to know that we’re all facing similar challenges. Have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I totally agree with your comment “like we need a little bit of chaos, it’s somehow the way we feel comfortable.” Nail on the head! Thank you for reading and for your comment 🙂


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