Saturday, December 5, 2015

Are You "Fearless"?

It's December now, and lots of people are turning their thoughts to the approaching new year. People are beginning to think about 2016 and what it might bring, what their plans are, what they're hoping for in the new year. Some people are beginning to think about their New Year's Resolution ... and some overachievers people have already chosen one!

In recent years, there has been a wave of people that are getting away from resolutions and just choosing a word. "Learning." "Focus." "Meditate." "Organize."

Have you ever had a word chosen for you? I have, but it wasn't on purpose. I didn't ask for the word ... it was given to me.

What's the word?

Fearless. I've had friends tell me they admired my fearlessness. Boys and men who were intimidated by my fearlessness. People who have come and gone in my life who insisted that I am fearless even as I insist that I am not.

So I thought that for this newsletter, I'd share with you Ten (of the million) Things I'm FearFULL of, along with the thing that gives me courage to keep moving in spite of my fears, just like Franklin Roosevelt told me to.

01.) Let's start with spiders. I am so, so afraid of spiders. There's something about their creepy little eyes and their million legs that terrifies me. Then when you add in the fact that some of them are actually venomous and they can hurt me, and I don't always know which is which? And the fact that they can crawl on me, or even bite me in my sleep? Guys. That's a straight up Hell. Naw.

But I can kill them. Even though my hands are shaking and I break out in a sweat and I want to scream (and write a lot of run-on sentences too, apparently), I can still walk right up to them (usually) and make sure that that particular spider can't bite me. Or my kids. Or my pup. Even when I can't walk up to them directly, I can still at least get close enough to spray them to death with hair spray. Once, I even saw one that was kinda cute. I think he was a little wolf spider, and he wasn't fast or jumpy or really very scary at all. So I caught him in a mason jar, even though it was a little frightening and if he'd somehow gotten on me, I'd have probably died of shock.

02.) Creepers with chain saws. I loved scary movies as a kid, and I still love them now, now and then. But there was one that I never liked, never. The Texas Chain Saw Massacre scared the hell of me, y'all. Seriously. It scared me so bad, I've only seen it once. Maybe twice. And that's it. Why? Because it's TERRIFYING. Seriously. At the end of October, I took my daughter to a haunted trail for Halloween, and I wasn't really scared by the clown or the knives or the bloody stuff or the creepers that jumped out or sneaked up or acted like they were gonna get me. I was scared of the creepers with the chainsaws though. They'd sneak up behind me and fire it up, and I could hear the engine rev. I could smell the fuel burning. I could almost feel myself losing an arm or something. Or like, an ass cheek or something.

But I kept telling myself they weren't really gonna hurt me, that the chain wasn't in it. And I kept going. I suppose eventually, I'll even own one, and I'll make a point of learning to use it. I'll learn to understand it. I'll carve a tree trunk into an eagle or an old man or something. Maybe then I won't be so afraid of them. Maybe I will. But I'll learn it anyway.

03.) Dementia. We all have a "worst way to die," and that's mine. It's been my "worst way to die" since I was a young teenager and first learned what it was. Dementia is terrifying to me; I could think of a dozen other ways to die that are less horrifying than that. I could drown. I could be decapitated in a horrific car accident. I could burn to death. But I don't want dementia. I don't want to forget my life, my memories. My children. I don't want to forget the things that make me me, that make me strong and capable. It took me so long to learn to love myself and accept myself ... I don't want to lose who I am. And as I'm watching that happen to someone close to me (or more honestly, trying desperately to not watch it happen), I'm forced to face that fear. I'm forced to accept the reality of what it means, and contemplate the horror that it could mean for me.

I'm also forced to face the idea that dementia can be hereditary. It very well could be my future. So what can I do to face that with courage? I can educate myself. I can treasure the memories of the loved one I'm losing. And I can take advantage of the wealth of knowledge available, the knowledge that can help me to protect myself.

04.) Elevator failure. The idea of that fall if the elevator malfunctions? Just the whole thing sliding down the elevator chute at top speed, unheeded by the pulleys and other things that usually keep elevators safe? The landing? No. Just no. I think of it every time I get in one.

It's easy enough to battle that one though. I suck it up and use elevators anyway. And it may or may not be partially because I'm too lazy to spend that kind of time on the stairs. Oddly, in spite of this one, I am not really afraid of heights.

05.) Bridge collapse. But only when I'm in my car and the bridge is over water. I can walk across a bridge, even if it's a high one or a long one. But if I'm driving across one and I for some reason get stuck anywhere on it? No. Just no. You can bet I've got my seat belt off so I don't get stuck in it, my window rolled down for easy escape, a death grip on the wheel, and a sense of utter terror in my heart. Especially if my kids or my dog is also with me.

There's a bridge near where I live, and it goes over a pretty good sized lake. I have to cross it at least twice every quarter, once to get to the other side and once to get back. If one of my kids is sick, I have to do it more. If I'm meeting up with Dana to hang out or do something, it's over that bridge, and that bridge is a testament to how much I love the people I'm willing to cross that bridge for.

Could I go another way? Yes, I could. But I don't. Why? Because no matter how afraid I am, how fearFULL I am, I will NOT allow fear to control me.

06.) Failure. But this one's self-explanatory, right? Everyone is at least a little bit afraid of this ... whatever it is that you most desperately wish to accomplish, you're probably afraid of failing to achieve it. Maybe you're afraid of failing as a spouse or a parent. Maybe you're afraid of failing your parents.

How do I get past this? I keep trying anyway. I forge forward, afraid, because I don't want to be paralyzed by my fears. I don't want to guarantee failure by lack of trying. But I also straighten my shoulders and face failure when it's in front of me. I'm okay with admitting that I've failed, that whatever it was I was trying to do or get or achieve is just beyond my abilities. If I can try again, I do, with fear but also with courage. If I can't try again, or have true believe that whatever it is just isn't for me ... then I let go of the old plan and create a new one.

07.) Dying while my children still need me. Right now, my daughters are eleven and six. They need me still, to wash their laundry and kiss their booboos and read them bedtime stories. They still need me to teach them to cook and stand up for themselves and drive cars and put their makeup on properly. I like to think they'll still need me when they're afraid to bathe their newborn babies, because newborn babies are SO SLIPPERY.

I know someone else could wash their laundry for them. But would someone else remember that certain soaps break out their skin? Probably not. Would someone else remember their favorite foods, and how to console them when they need consoling? Maybe not. Would someone else remember that you have to be a little harder on the one because she's got a super tough outer shell, and a little more gentle on the other one because she's what we lovingly refer to as a "marshmallow?"

But somewhere in the mommy corner of my heart, I've become convinced (as most mothers are) that no one else can do it like I can. And I just don't want my children to learn that the hard way. But I gotta face that. I still gotta be a good mom, and I still gotta love my babies. I want to give them what I can, for as long as I can, because being afraid of leaving them is a constant reminder that I won't always be here for them. I want to be what I can, while I can.

08.) Snakes, and other things that can bite me. Especially if it's going to be painful or poisonous. Seriously, have y'all seen what rattlesnake bites look like? I don't want any part of that kind of thing. No. Just no.

Still, I might go hiking, if the waterfall at the end promised to be pretty enough. And if there was appropriate medical care within reach. You know, and if I had a gun.

09.) Bees, and other things that can sting me. Again, especially if it's going to be painful or poisonous. I don't want that. I don't want the ouch, or the welt, or the possible side effects of the stuff that stinging creatures inject you with when they sting you. I don't want it.

But I do still force myself to spend time outside now and again. And I've killed a bee or three. Wasps, too. I might be scared, but those little bastards better watch out, because while I'm screaming hysterically, I'm going to be plotting HOW TO KILL THEM.

10.) But more than all of these things, I'm afraid that someday if all my fears come to pass, just as I'm faced with never becoming everything I've always wanted to be, I'll have some weird asshole walk into my life and kidnap me and cover me in venomous spiders while chasing my ass through a cloud of bees into an obviously broken elevator full of snakes on a bridge with a chain saw, while my children are crying and in need of just one more something that I can't give them if I'm dead. And to make it all even scarier? I'd have to face it without Dana. Now that's scary.

Not looking so fearless now, am I?

And now, I'm off to go skydiving. In the dark. With my pet sharkigator.

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