living with fear

When I got better at dealing with disability and all that came along with it, fear came out of the shadows to greet me. I was surprised at its entrance in my life. It had been patient, awaiting its turn after love and contentment had been with me for a while. When catastrophe struck I dumbly thought it could only strike once. But, once I was mired in the world again and the larger effects of the crash had worn off I heard and read about other people’s stories where catastrophe had struck twice, even three times. It forced me to rethink my whole strategy on getting through life.

I tended to live one day at a time, but there was no telling what could happen and I should be prepared. I wasn’t afraid of any one thing. I was afraid of many things, anything that lay around the corner. Unseen things ready to hurl themselves at me, testing my mettle. Could she do it again? As if I had a target on me. I had already seen how bad things happen to good people. There were no guarantees. Like the last time, I wouldn’t see it coming and I was terrified of going through something else, one more thing. Afraid that my psyche, my heart couldn’t take it.

When I got my driver’s license back about a year and a half after the crash I was so excited to have something from my old life return to me. It wasn’t long before the thrill wore off and some days all I could see was how every car on the road was a weapon, seeking and destroying. I saw my car sliding and skidding into the car in front of me after the brakes failed. I had two or three good years behind me. Surely I was due for something else to happen. Don’t get too comfortable. Don’t feel so safe. Fear eroded at parts that had healed, revealing that I wasn’t as tough as I thought. There was more, always more healing to be had.

I realized then that one never arrives, ta-da, at the healed destination of their choice. There are layers to healing. There are places to rest and places where we stop to wrestle our demons. We have epiphanies and revelations along the way that help get us there, to our desired destination. We get more and more healed. But, I don’t know that we’re ever done. Ever finished. Because we’re human. Something comes up and it triggers the past. Our arms wrap around ourselves instinctively to protect, the old guard closing in as aged feelings resurface. It was like that for me when I had my kids. While there was new life in my arms I felt the heaviness of their fragility, how their lives were in my care. And I was confronted with fear that I wouldn’t be enough. I would bend my body around their small soft bodies to serve them, to keep them safe, but I could never be enough. I wouldn’t be able to protect them from things I couldn’t foresee.

To my driven self, the self that longs for perfection and to control, I had to learn to be okay with that, to not have it all together, to not know. My body teaches me that. My body always looks as though it’s coming apart. Haphazardly pieced and stitched together, it is the furthest from perfect, but if my body could get by, so could I. I could withstand a lot. That didn’t mean I sought out or welcomed bad in my life, but I didn’t have to be beaten by it. Shoulders back, I had to find faith in myself, trust that I could do what was in front of me. I set my eyes on what was good and took solace in today. I couldn’t turn my back on fear, banish it with a blind eye. But, I wrapped my mind around a future that could hold possibility rather than uncertainty. And I had hope, always hope, to straighten my spine and give me strength.

8 thoughts on “living with fear

  1. Emily

    i love this post. i struggle with fear too, i suppose we all do to some degree. but this really speaks to me! i so wish healing was something final.

    thank you for writing this.

    and yes this is katie’s sister : )

    1. heidi

      Emily! I just wanted to shout your name with an exclamation point.

      I still struggle with it and try very hard to get through it with perspective. I think that’s the thing about fear, you tend to lose perspective when it gets too big. You know?

      Thanks so much for commenting and reading. 🙂

  2. Toriz

    Fear is one of the hardest things to deal with. It creeps in to your mind unbidden and unseen, and makes itself at home there before you are even fully aware that it exists. Then, when you try to rid yourself of it, it has sunk its claws in too deeply to be easily removed.

  3. Katie

    I love the title of this post….I think too often we are told not to be afraid (especially as Christians) but this is completely unrealistic.
    p.s. Hi Em!

  4. Kate Coveny Hood

    No one can live without any sense of fear. And they shouldn’t want to. Fear serves a purpose. It makes us appreciate things. It makes us pay attention and be wary. And without fear, we’d never have the opportunity to be brave. But we do have to keep fear in perspective…I think you are right about focusing on faith rather than fear.

  5. Dawn Hanna

    words never rang so true, especially “there are layers to healing”…..
    pushing through the fear…..i learn so much from you, friend.

  6. IntenseGuy

    I would like to hear what your children think of you – today. I don’t know how old they are – or if they are teenagers less likely to think their parents are wonderful by now – and hear if they think you “are enough”. And later, when they grow older and form a more balanced perspective of their parents – will they admire you and think you “are enough”?

    If I were a betting man, I wouldn’t bet against them thinking you are truly enough and think they’ve been blessed.

    Fear of “what might happen” could have roots in the knowing that life could take a turn – good, bad, or just to some place unexpected at any moment. Living in those fears like Chicken Little’s only prevents us from living at all.

    You write so marvelously. I hope your efforts reach fruition soon.

  7. Lady Mama

    That’s a very inspiring attitude you have there. I’m sorry to hear about your accident. It’s amazing how sometimes the really bad things that happen to us in life are the things that make us the wisest.

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