I dropped Blossom’s leash. The heavy plastic handle slapping the ground frightened her… she ran. Dragging the other two pups along, I raced after her, my heart pounding. I yelled “COME” and then “COME” followed by a series of expletives but the fear masquerading as anger in my voice frightened her even more.
Once she stopped, I realized I wasn’t angry. I was afraid. I often get those two emotions mixed up.
When Frankie cat showed up a few years ago, it took weeks to tame him. He hissed and swatted and spit at me. I didn’t judge him for it. I knew he was afraid. Now he is the sweetest of all the kitties.
I see Frankie Cat in myself. I catch myself hissing and bowing up, threatening the perceived enemy when the truth is, I’m afraid. But I don’t like feeling fear. Why am I so afraid of being afraid?
Sitting with my fear
Heart thumping, hands shaking, ringing in my head
I want to escape it.
How does it feel to feel it all the way through? No flight and no freeze…just feel.
I think we all long to feel safe in our fear. Maybe that’s why crazy carnival rides and Stephen King are so popular. We long to feel the fear all the way through and land safely on the other side.
I did a web search for fear and phrases like “overcoming fear” and “fearlessness” top the charts. But what if I just feel fear? What if I don’t push it away, run from it, ignore it, yell at it? How would it feel or taste or smell from beginning to end without any action?
Of course, fear is there to protect us in many situations. But there are so many times that if I dig down under my fear, I find a Pandora’s box of odds and ends.
A silly example but one that is easier to share. My friend and I were talking about salt on watermelon. He likes it. I don’t. His insistence causes me to bristle a little bit. Aha! That’s anger! But why would I get angry? Because suddenly I felt like I could be wrong. I spent my entire life eating salt-free melon, but what if, just maybe, I was wrong. I can cling to my beliefs and habits so strongly that the tiniest push makes me wobbly and afraid. What if now I sit with that fear? Turn it around in my head. Try to understand it. Because under that, there is still so much more…a fear of nonconformity, a fear of being wrong, a fear of being laughed at, a fear of abandonment because I don’t agree with somebody 100%….the deeper I dig, the more I will see. But unearthing each level and exposing it to light, makes it less scary. The monster in the closet isn’t a monster any more once I open the door and see it was really just an old Halloween costume fallen off its hanger.
I’ve lived my life pushing through fear. Cursing fear. Hiding fear. Ignoring fear. But what if I just took the time to look at fear, acknowledge fear, and get to know her. I’ll be working on this!
“Curiosity will conquer fear even more than bravery will.”
— James Stephens