Friday, February 17, 2012

Confronting my worst fear

Yesterday I started a blog on the theme of things you will not find on my wish list.  Sort of a continuance of my 20 Wishes blog.

Being the proud possessor of a deranged mind, I am very aware that my mind does not always - or often - stay on track.  It goes wherever it so desires.  Whenever.  It shifts.  It changes direction in one second - or is it one nanosecond? - flat.  If my mind were a train, it would officially be declared derailed.  Off the track.  Only instead of lying in a heap of wreckage beside the track, it would be wandering off intact through fields, crossing streams and rivers, flying above the ground, smelling the coffee, enjoying the flowers.  My mind has a mind of its own.

And so, while I'm trying to write about the things you will never find on a wish list I create, I began to think of why - the logical, practical -  the reasons why these things won't be on my wish list.  And then I began to think of things I wouldn't have dared to put on my wish list - due to fear, unhealthy fear, which I have accomplished since the beginning of this journey in 2005.  Feats of daring endeavour - for me - which have amazed and astounded both me and my family members.  Stories which have become part of the fabric of not only my story but our family stories and memories.

Originally I was going to share a few of these in today's blog, but have since decided to narrow it down to one.  The first one.  The one that started the whole ball rolling.  The one I am most proud of.

Before I begin, I need to set the scene - as all good writers do.  Fear has ruled my life as far back as I can remember.  Fear of the dark.  Fear of monsters lurking under my bed.  Fear of heights.  Fear of closed in spaces.  These fears bound and constricted my life.  Elevators?  No way.  Stairs?  Yes, as long as they were cement and closed-in.  Those that had spaces between each step, were out in the open or were glass enclosed were terrifying to me and, therefore, off limits.  Getting above the first floor in a building could be quite a challenge.

 So now that the background scenery is painted and up.  The background set.  We embark on today's story.

 One summer weekend, Papa Bear and I were visiting Parry Sound, Ontario - a favorite place for us - when his eye caught a fearsome sight.  The Parry Sound Lookout Tower.  He wanted to climb it.  I froze at even the sight of this fearsome structure.  My fear of heights was so strong that even looking at the tower brought on physical signs of panic.

Tom claimed it - alone - while I waited at the bottom.  Then I got to thinking.  Maybe, just maybe, I could do it.  Maybe.  So I tried.  Alone.  I got to perhaps the third landing.  I froze.  I could not go any further.  My legs were like rubber.  Sensations which I cannot describe adequately or effectively were cascading like electric impulses through my lower extremities.  In defeat, I struggled down the stairway.

BUT.  I hate to admit defeat.  In my heart of hearts, I really wanted to do this.  I wanted to defeat my fear.  I wanted to defeat this monster.  I thought about it.  I talked with Papa Bear about it.  His read:  I was actually safer climbing up this tower than I was on a walking trail.  On a walking trail, I could break a part of my anatomy.  On the tower, this was highly unlikely.  Falling off an impossibility.

Another trip to Parry Sound.  This time, I enlisted Papa Bear as my helper, my encourager, my support on this second attempt to defeat the enemy.

My heart in my throat, I gripped the railing with my right hand.  A death grip on Papa Bear's with my left.  Slowly, we went up.  Very slowly.  Stopping at every landing to take pictures.  My legs were a mass of jelly.  But Papa Bear's hand grip remained firm.  His strength became my strength.  He refused to let me fail.  He knew how badly I wanted to conquer this fear.  Each landing, I thought was my last.  Each time, he encouraged me to go one further.  And then another one.  And another one.  He consistently reminded me that I could not possibly fall through the cracks.  That the tower, though it looked fearsome, was safe.  He refused to let me fail.

Digressing a bit.  I had had a dream in which I was faced with driving alone over a high bridge or a skyway or some such thing.  I cannot remember all the details but in this dream I was faced with this fact:  There is nothing to fear except fear itself.  The fear is the problem.  Not the high place.  In this dream, I drove over this terrifying high place successfully constantly reminding myself that there was nothing to fear but fear itself.  In this dream, I felt peace acknowledging that the fear was just that:  a fear.  Not a reality.  The bridge itself had no power over me.  It was the fear that did.

And so I went up those fearsome, terrifying stairs, heart in mouth.  Step by step.  Reminding myself constantly, out loud, that there was nothing to fear except the fear itself.  Reminding myself of my favorite Biblical promise and verse:  I can do all things through Christ who strengths me (Philippians 4:13 KJV).

As we were going up so were others.  Some completely unafraid.  Some having physical problems.  Others not exactly comfortable at the idea of climbing up the tower themselves.  Some committed to making it to the top.  Others not so.

One female duo was quite interesting.  This duo consisted of two women, I believe one the mother, the other her daughter.  They went up quite easily.  I envied them.  They passed us going up once.  Going down.  Going up a second time. Going down again.  This scenario repeated itself something like four or five times while I plodded inexorably and slowly to the top.  Oh how I wished I could fly with eagles' wings to the top.

Fy I did not.  Race I did not.  Consistently with my mind focused on the goal, the finish line, I kept going.  Not intent on being the first one up.  Intent only on getting up there.

People passing us going up were well aware of the challenge I was facing.

Reaching the top finally, we were met with smiles, congratulations.  An acknowledgement by those who had reached the prized goal before us, that we were winners.  I was a winner.

 Papa Bear and I have now accomplished four assaults on the fearsome tower.  A little less effort is needed each time.  Each time, Papa Bear holds my hand and encourages me.  At this point I still cannot reach the finish line, the goal, without his help and support.  Each time, I come away a little prouder of myself.

Yes!  I CAN do all things with Christ's - and Papa Bear's - help!

There is nothing to fear EXCEPT fear itself.


  1. And your family is so proud of you for conquering your fears! :)

    1. And you wouldn't have believed it if you hadn't seen pictures to prove. Right?