- Written by Saralee Perel Saralee Perel
My eyes are bleeding.
I was at my yearly, routine eye exam when my doctor said, “There’s bleeding around your retina in your left eye.”
I panicked and cried, “What causes that?”
She didn’t know and referred me to a retina specialist.
I had to have a complete physical, a ton of bloodwork, a heart ultrasound, an EKG, and an ultrasound of my carotid arteries. The first thing that was ruled out was hypertension.
In constant worry, I thought, “What if it’s my heart? What if I need eye surgery?” Then I reached the bottom line: “What if I’m going to die?”
At my next appointment, the bleeding had gotten worse in my left eye and had spread to my right eye as well. Times between visits took months. I spent a chunk of my life lost in darkness.
I’ve spent so many chunks of my life uselessly ruminating that sometimes I think I’ve lived most of my life that way. I make up scenarios, even when nothing is wrong. I vividly envision my husband, Bob, in a car crash. I “see” him in the emergency room. I wonder who I’d call first.
My friend is a “think positively” person. When I told her about my eye, she said, “Everything will be fine.”
I said, “You don’t know that.”
You see, that’s never a given. But blindness isn’t a given either.
So, what is the answer when I don’t know what will happen? Hope.
My bottom-line cure to preoccupied thoughts is not thinking positively or negatively in the first place. I developed a new motto: “Just for today, no negative thoughts.”
I must say that to myself 100 times a day. The negative thoughts still almost constantly come, but each time they do, I catch myself and say the motto.
I say it not just about the big things, like fires, accidents, or bleeding eyes, but for all those streaming, pestering thoughts like, “My pants are a little tight.”
And so, instead of picturing myself blind, I think, “I’m grateful for, right now, having such a loving husband who’s my best friend. I’m grateful for, right now, my beloved pets, a computer that is working, my home, the honor of communicating with my readers each month.”
I may not have these things tomorrow, but I do now. And “now” is the only thing I truly know.
As I write this column, I still don’t know why my eyes are bleeding. Yet, I’m choosing not to spend every day filled with “what if” thoughts.
The time will go by between now and my next appointment, no matter how I think. If I get dreadful news, I’ll be devastated. But at least I won’t have lost yet another big chunk of my life.
With my new motto, each day has been sparkling.
Nationally syndicated, award-winning columnist Saralee Perel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via her website: www.saraleeperel.com.