Sitting with Fear
I’ve avoided writing this blog because I’ve never thought of myself as a fearful person.
Twice, I’ve leapt walls trying to save my kitten and my dog from stranger’s Rottweilers.
As a young teenager, walking into a mall with my mum, a sad man whispered what he’d like to do with me while passing and I spun round and spat in his face. He might have intended to shock me but judging from his face, with my spittle dripping, I think he was more shocked.
At 50 I flew for three days (cheapest route) from Barbados to Rishikesh, India to stay for two months in a place where I knew no one. I rented a scooter rode into the unknown and hiked up mountains for hours. On my own, barefoot.
If anything fear has been good to me and given me the adrenaline to respond quickly and strongly (which is what it’s meant to do, at its best).
Last week Monday we had the relieving news that my husband’s CT Scan one month after his last round of treatment showed no cancer. It was the best news in over a year. Five days later, because the CT scan showing lung damage, the pulmonologist advised she couldn’t rule out this damage to be cancer. He needed a lung biopsy the next morning.
Sunday I was paralysed with fear. We didn’t share this news with anyone as we didn’t want our adult children, who live in London, to worry — and we expected the results to come back benign.
Which they did three days later.
I forgot that this wasn’t my fear this was the fear it was a collective fear. It wasn’t just me alone: my husband’s fear was probably greater; his mum’s; every cancer patient awaiting their results has fear. God knows misery loves company and if I remembered this from my Me Too blog last time I’d have been marginally better off.
I forgot to acknowledge the fear. It took me more than a day to recognise it, and did that day drag! The end result was mindless munching on MSG and sugary snacks trying to stuff that annoying emotion back down.
I forgot to feel it and its manifestation in my body. The tightness in my chest, the heaviness in my legs and heart, wetness and warmth behind my eyes, difficulty swallowing.
I forgot to embrace it. I was running from it because I felt ashamed of my fear. It seemed a useless emotion for the situation. I talked myself out of sharing this burden with a friend or family because of my shame.
The following day I woke up exhausted and not wanting to get out of bed - with eight dogs, two cats and parrot to feed this was not an option.
I finally realised I no longer wanted to live with fear. Fear from one CT scan, biopsy, endoscopy, x-ray, ultrasound, barium meal to the next.
Fear from lack of insurance. My husband turned 65 two days before the bronchoscopy and found out four days later his plan came to an end at retirement age.
Fear of finances. Shockingly yoga teachers / massage therapist while they are a dime a dozen don’t make much more than a dozen dimes.
So it was time to sit with the fear. Welcome it. Treat it with kindness and empathy and understanding.
And it left.
Yes the fear will visit again. I only hope to recognise him this time.
And sit down and welcome it sooner.
So it stays with me shorter.