(Written in July of 2006, but never published.)
I’ve always thought that fear is a bad thing. That it’s an ugly thing and should be hidden and suppressed. But, I’ve learned that fear is a feeling and, as with any feeling, to suppress it often makes it the only thing you can think about. It’s interesting, though, how as human beings we find ways to work around our handicaps and still manage to get done what we need to in order to move forward.
Last year, even before I’d set a date for our wedding, I nonchalantly went off with Grace and bought my wedding dress… “just in case.” Or how with the trip to Ireland, I booked the trip and then, in order to prepare for it, I bought a few guidebooks… “just to look at.”
The other thing about fear is that’s it’s oftentimes generalized, BUT it can be a guide to determine with specificity the root of the fear. Then, and only then, can measures be taken to face that fear. You can’t face down the universe, but you can take one fear at a time and learn to know it and, by knowing it, one can either live with it or put it down.
In the last five years, I’ve faced a lot of things I never thought I’d face, made a lot of decisions I never thought I’d make. But, at the time, when I looked at my life and the level of happiness I had versus the level of happiness I knew I could have, I realized changes needed to be made.
I remember shortly after I married Tony and he moved in, I was sitting in his office/spare bedroom with him and I looked at his childhood lamp. It was placed in the corner of that room, next to the closet doors. A feeling of surreality surrounded me. It was as if I was looking down a rabbit hole and it was very far away. I simply couldn’t believe that I was living in this house, in this city, with these pets, with this man, with these things on the walls, that I’d had major surgery just a couple years before, the situation with my brother, everything was just… unreal.
I left the room, walked down the hallway, down the stairs and curled into a ball on the landing of the stairs. It was just… just too much. The human brain is not meant to comprehend so many things at one time.
Tony joined me on the landing of the stairs shortly after I left. I attempted to articulate what was going through my mind, but mostly it was just tears. He is very good at interpreting tears… to the underlying message that I was feeling overwhelmed.
***Today, February 20, 2011***
I’ve come quite a ways since then… wow, four and a half years. I’ve faced down many of the fears I had then and I process things a lot better these days. But new fears, bigger fears already had their bags packed and were ready at a moments notice to move in and replace those that had moved out.
So, when in the throes of working through fear and anxiety, I try to remember these points:
Fears are usually worse when you’re worrying about them than when you experience them. (Example: Ever dread a Monday morning meeting, and then after you attend it, it really wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be?)
I may not think or feel certain goals are attainable, but if the desire is there, it’s already within my reach.
The hardest part is making the decision to face it; then I’m just along for the ride.
Sometimes, no matter how hard it gets or how many panic attacks I have, I just need to ride it out and stay committed to my decision. Even if I feel trapped. Even if I feel as if I can’t do it. No matter what.
A problem has never been solved by worrying over it. Nor will I be the first to do so.
Sometimes you have to do something REALLY BIG, out of this world crazy to put the fear in perspective.
Everyone faces fear, things that overwhelm you. Things that you can’t seem to get through. What thoughts do you hold onto when processing?