A Curious Exploration of Fear
It’s hard to bring myself to write about it. The whole situation seems utterly unnecessary. But in that moment, that’s where I was. “I’ve never been so afraid in my life,” paints nothing of what only comes out in a series of bursts. I cannot tell you if it was a twig breaking or a not yet heard noise. Fear has fragmented me.
Frozen. Alert. Gripped. Looking down, my hands pressed together – maybe I’m praying. No I would not choose to be here, standing still in the clearing ready for a moose to eat me. Do moose even eat people?! Why would a moose walking by a hundred feet away scare the living daylights out of me? Because it’s a moose! In an instant I become foreign to myself. “I should trust life,” I tell myself in a puny attempt to sleep through the night when every leaf rustling sounds like a cannon going off in my sternum. How can I trust something I know will end up leaving me?
Fear, come do what you’ve come to do and be done with it. You’re too busy multiplying yourself to do anything useful.
I would like to say that the fear came and struck me right there and knocked me flat, but it didn’t. It came out of me bursting into flames, and I had to sit and watch it burn. I’m scared out of my mind. I keep open. I cram wedges into my armor. I have to let the air heal the wounds so I can be able to take off the armor without it ripping me apart.
The creek goes on and on – constant. I am momentarily distracted, taking a break from the tightness that grips me. I hear human voices and my whole body sighs with relief, but soon they will be gone and I will be drawn back by fear. I’d rather feel lonely than alone. Fear and I become fused.
I lost myself or was I stolen from me? It doesn’t matter the thief or the victim, I spend the next twenty-four hours finding my way back to being neither. This sounds all very poetic and abstract – fear coming in and crushing my soul, and me standing there silently crying, but I can tell you there was only a sickly sweet chill.
I felt ok enough to sunbathe – barely. The creek bubbling and birds chirping and the squirrels carrying on – all seems so normal, almost familiar enough for me to forget that I’m in a completely unfamiliar territory, even within myself. I lose it. Barely switches over to Not. All of the sudden I am sitting up alert. I want to live further from Barely – more than ok enough to not be ok. Constantly falling off the edge. Perched.
The thunder doesn’t bother me. It’s big and loud and intense, the way fear is supposed to be. I can handle it this way. I know how to wait out the storm and even enjoy the rain that comes pouring down around me while I sit here dry writing under a pine tree, drinking my hot chocolate. I love to watch the rain from here, surrounded, but protected. My space may be small, but it is mine. Separate from the storm. This is what I can hold. I can see fear passing. Before I’ve finished my hot chocolate, the storm is gone. This is the kind of fear I love if I had to – that comes in a flash and leaves just as quickly. The sun is out and the thunder grows distant. But in the middle of the day, the sun is orange and reminds me of a gnawing that isn’t so easily chased away. I’d like to say I did the chasing, but I just did the holding on. My brain is scrambling, reaching to find something certain it can hold onto.
I’m more scared of fear than what I was afraid of. I know this now. Even the heat of the day can’t melt it away. It’s on the inside and there I must go. I’m as unclothed as I can be. Maybe one day I can see myself naked and warm. I’m searching. Picking myself up and going forward into more uncertainty where the previous becomes familiar and welcomes me home.
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