Fear! It is one of the most powerful emotions we possess. It can move us forward or hold us back. In some cases it can even freeze us in place preventing us from proceeding, accomplishing and succeeding. Often the "fear" of something is much worse than the outcome. Sometimes we find that what we feared was never actually a reality and other times we find that the reality of the fear was far less scary than the fear itself. Fear! Four little letters and one huge emotion.
I talk about fear today because for years I lived my life bound by various forms of this emotion. When I was young, fear never really entered my life. Not emotional fear anyway. Of course I was terrified of haunted houses and things that went bump in the night, but those were seasonal and I knew rationally they were unsubstantiated fears. The only real fear I ever remember was one time when I thought there was something wrong with my mother. It was a week of sheer terror trying to imagine my life without her. Luckily I had years left with her...but at the time I knew fear. Other than that though, I was pretty fearless. Any momentary fears I had were just that, as I knew I was always going to be okay when I came out on the other side.
It was not until 2000 when my youngest was born that I knew fear. Real fear. Gut wrenching....terrifying fear. When I sat by his bedside and knew that I might lose him.....that was unbelievable fear. Then when I lost my husband unexpectedly the next year and I realized that I was now raising my kids on my own....that was gut wrenching fear. Finally....in 2002 after I lost my mom after a battle with cancer and I felt completely alone in the world except for my kids.....THAT was debilitating fear. It was a fear that reoccured for years and was diagnosed as PTSD or Post Tramatic Stress Disorder. I like to call it....waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have spoken of it before and the cloud that it put over my life and my happiness. I lived in fear of losing my kids or dying myself. It was irrational and crazy and yet to me....the irrational and crazy had already happened to me....so why couldn't it happen again?
After several years of being on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds....I finally realized that for me, they were doing more damage than good and I medically weened myself off of them. Yes....my emotions were more raw and surfaced, but at least I was feeling. I knew I would never get beyond my fear if I didn't first allow myself to feel it. After a while, I found myself feeling and even being emotional again and I also began to realize just how much I had let fear take over my life. When you live in fear you lose all of your joy. I had lost mine but after a time, it began to return.
In the last few years, a new "me" had begun to emerge. I was much more balanced and I felt really good until this August. It was at this time a diagnostic test for breast cancer found that I had two spots on my lung. I felt all the debilitating fear engulf and nearly suffocate me. I also found calcifcations on my thyroid. It was a double whammy of sorts. The kicker was that the spots were too small to biopsy and the fact that there was more than one made it even more worrisome. After seeing a specialist who sent me home and said we will wait 3 months and retest....I was sort of left in limbo. I think the thyroid is fine. Since seeing the specialist....I have drifted between feeling confident that I am fine and worrying that something irrational and crazy is going to happen.
Last week my youngest had another health scare which left us in the hospital for several days. Since coming home I have felt crappy. Mostly I feel heavy in my chest. I am not coughing, wheezing, or having trouble breathing....my chest just feels heavy. I have not lost my appetite or run fever or any of the other possible signs of lung cancer. Common sense tells me that I am stressing and exhausted and letting my emotions take on physical attributes. However.....the fear is back and there are times when it feels like it is winning. It feels as if I am at a stand still frozen in time. I am trying to pray my way through it, but at times it feels like my faith is no match for my fear and I am ashamed.
My fear takes me through rocky "what ifs" and worst case scenarios. It is making me crazy and very unproductive. That is why I started this for the year. It is my reminder that I am alive, writing and that I am on a journey. In any journey you must continually move forward and that is what I intend to keep doing. I really have no plans to dwell on this as now that I have spoken of it....it is out in the universe and no longer hiding inside of me fighting to overtake all my other sane emotions. Instead I plan to move forward and make small and necessary changes every day. I plan to pray both for myself and all those who need the prayers as much as I do. I also plan to hope with all my heart that this is another case where the fear is far worse than the outcome and soon my joy will return.
Yes fear is an ugly emotion than can rob us of so much. I will never get the moments back that I have already wasted on fear, but I refuse to let fear win. So today I claim victory over my fear and choose to no longer let fear guide me. It is time to move ahead and seize the day!