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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

‎Finish the thought: “the blank page…”

What words to you add? Which way did you take it?

The blank page is scary.

That’s the first thought that came to my mind.

Scary.

Like monsters in the closet and thunder and the unknown.

Scary.

And then I stopped myself.

Scary? Really?

What’s scary about it? The fact that there’s nothing there and I’m expected to fill it up with words?

Seriously. Enough already.

It’s not scary.

Cancer is scary and growing old is scary and watching those around you fade away is scary.

Losing people is scary and not knowing why is scary and being powerless to do anything about it is scary.

The blank page?

The blank page is none of those things and maybe it’s time to see it for what it is.

It’s just a thing, an empty bucket waiting to be filled up with my thoughts. They don’t have to be good thoughts or smart thoughts or witty thoughts. They just have to be mine. And I just have to put them down and fill up the blank page.

And then it won’t be a blank page anymore.

The blank page is only scary if I believe it to be.

No more.

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‎The lady sitting across from me is ticked off. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily all that good at determining the emotions of complete strangers just by looking at their faces but this one is pretty easy.

She’s ticked off and I’m making the assumption it’s because the girl beside her is playing her music too loud. The girl has her ear buds in but you can still hear it. I’m sitting kitty-corner to her and I can still hear it.

The woman is rolling her eyes and sighing loudly. Of course, considering how loud the music is, she’s going to have to sign ten times louder to get her attention.

I reach over and grab my own ipod from my bag and put my earphones in. I catch eyes with the woman across from me and I can tell she feels validated, like I’m on her side.

Except she doesn’t know that I didn’t put my music on to drown out the other music, I did it so that if she decides to eventually say something to the girl beside her, I can hopefully stay out of it.

I fear confrontation in much the same way other people fear public speaking or small spaces. The very thought of it, the anticipation of it, makes my heart beat faster and my palms grow sweaty.

The ridiculous part is that I don’t just dread confrontation in which I am directly involved, I also loathe what I will call ‎observed confrontation. I don’t like seeing two people arguing on the street, even if I’m just walking by. I don’t like hearing one side of a tense telephone conversation, even if I don’t know either of the people speaking. I don’t like the chance that an argument may or may not happen anywhere in my proximity; not even the idea that there’s a remote chance it might happen.

I have swallowed more words than I can count, justified or not, because I don’t want to start something that may lead to something else. I have turned so many cheeks my neck aches and smoothed so many rough waters that my hands are permanently wrinkled.

I know there are times to stand up and say what needs to be said, even for no ther reason then because they need to be said. I don’t think anyone who knows me would describe me as a pushover but if strong words are being spoken you can pretty much assume I’ll be heading in the other direction or sitting in the corner with my fingers in my ears.

Sometimes I wish it this wasn’t the way I react. I wish I could be one of those people who can say what they mean, even if it means occasionally being mean. I am more than able to come up with the words that I mean, but they are only ever said under breaths or behind doors or into pillows.

Back to the present and the woman across from me is still sighing but she seems to have taken a break from the eye rolling. For my part I will stare out the window and pretend to be lost in my book.

And if we make it to our final stop with no tense words being said, I will consider it a successful journey.

At least until the next time.

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Other parents I know are so terrified of their kids wandering off in a busy public place that they keep them close with those little kids leashes. I know some who are so scared at the possibility of choking that they continue to cut up their kids grapes into tiny pieces well into their middle school years. And still others are so frightened by the mere possibility of their kids being exposed to germs that they basically wrap their kids in plastic wrap and douse them in hand sanitizer for the duration of the school year.

I don’t judge.

I don’t judge the leashes or the grapes or the plastic wrap because I get it.

I have my own (somewhat) irrational fear.

This is mine.

You see fun...I see terror.

You see fun…I see danger.

I know it’s ridiculous. I know it’s right up there with leashes and cut-up grapes and plastic wrap, but I just can’t help it.

I remember loving the swings as a kid. I remember the amazing sense of freedom that came with pumping my legs as hard as they could go, higher and higher until I felt like I could touch the sky. I remember closing my eyes and feeling my hair floating around my head at the exact moment I hung suspended between forward swing and backward. Being on the swing was the closest I ever came to flying. In a word, the swings were bliss.

Now, years later, I am a parent and I have a much different perspective.

Now I wonder who decided that strapping a slippery piece of flexible rubber between two metal chains was a good idea? Seriously, how could this not end badly? I made my son sit in the baby swing until he was five. It would have probably been longer but he got stuck one time and I almost couldn’t get him out.

If it were up to me, every swing would be a baby swing. I mean seriously, they made us put a seat belt on our Bumbo chairs for “safety” reasons but suggesting they put a restraining device on something that helps your kid fly through the air? Apparently that moves me from the category of “diligent” to “crazy.”

So my kids have learned. When they go to the park with Daddy he does “under-ducks” and pushes them as high as they want. He laughs as they laugh and lets them swing as long as they want.

However, they know when they go to the park with Mommy she will encourage you to play on anything BUT the swings. If you do manage to get on one, she won’t push you more than three times. She will say that’s “high enough.” Then she will go sit on the bench and stare at you with the frowny face until you finally give up and go play on the slide.

I hate that this very simple thing freaks me out and I know it doesn’t make any sense. A swing is no more dangerous than a bike or a car, or walking from here to there for that matter, but I can’t seem to get over it. Apparently this is just my thing.

Realistically I keep telling myself that in the big scheme of things it probably won’t leave them too traumatized.

I mean it’s not like I’m afraid of ice cream.

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How do I teach you to be careful without causing you to live your life in fear?

How do I teach you to always be aware of what’s going on around you, cognizant of potential danger, without making you scared of things that will probably never happen?

How do show you we live in a world filled with beauty, kindness, love and respect when most of the outward evidence suggests otherwise?

How do I make sure you are aware of the people who may try to harm you without inadvertently teaching you to judge someone by the way they look?

How do I give you the freedom to imagine the outside world as your playground while also keeping you safe from the dangers that exist at the bottom of each quickly moving stream and under every bridge?

How do I ensure you will not blindly trust the stranger who approaches you without making you unable to accept kindness from people you do not know?

How do I implore you to protect your heart fiercely, only giving it to someone who has proven themselves worthy, while also helping you realize that no one gets it right on the first try?

How do I teach you that it’s okay to make mistakes while educating you that unfortunately you’re growing up in a time where your mistakes may live on forever on the Internet?

How do I make sure that my worries and fears do not rob you of your innocence and wonder?

How do I teach you all of these things when I don’t even understand them myself?

How I wish I had the answers.

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“Do one thing a day that scares you.”  For some reason this quote has been following me around.  Every where I look I see those black and red lululemon bags and that one statement seems to catch my eye each and every time.

Then today, I finally took a few minutes to think about what it means.  I wondered when the last time was that I did something that scared me.

Then I realized I did something today that scares me, and yesterday, and the day before that.

On the surface, when I thought about doing something that scares me I would think of rock climbing or scuba diving or holding a snake.  Something big; something I would never normally consider doing.  And then when I thought about it for another minute, I realized that since becoming a parent, fear is a constant in my life, every day, every minute of every day.

Today I did something that scares me.  Today I kissed my kids goodbye and sent them out into the world; I sent them off to school and hoped that they wouldn’t be bullied or teased or hurt.  I put them in a car and said a small prayer that they would be safe, that the person driving on the road with them wouldn’t be texting or talking or falling asleep.

I yelled goodbye to my husband on my way out the door, trying not to think about what would happen if he didn’t come home that night.  Because if I did, if I actually thought about all of the things that I do everyday that scare me, I wouldn’t be able to function.  I would surround myself with my loved ones and forbid them from going outside, from answering the door, from doing anything.  And we all know that’s not any way to live.

Doing something that scares me is not the issue.  For me, and I’m sure I’m not the only one, the difficulty is doing something each day that I enjoy, something that allows me to forget about the fear and the responsibilities and the “what-ifs” that are my near-constant companions.

As a parent, a wife, a daughter, a friend, I feel like some days I spend every minute of every day doing something for someone else; thinking about other people; doing things to make someone else happy.  Coupled with all of the time I spend trying to avoid the bad things, there is rarely any time left for the good things, even one little good thing just for me.

Enough.

Here and now I am making a promise to myself that I will do something each day that I enjoy.

I will sit and have a cup of tea and drink it all the way to the bottom before it gets cold.  I will curl up in a cozy chair and read 15 pages of my book, uninterrupted.  I will paint my nails.  I will paint them once and if I change my mind about the colour I will start over and paint them a different colour.  I will laugh out loud at a joke, even if it’s maybe a little bit inappropriate and probably a lot offensive.  I will go for a walk – not to the store to get milk because we’re running low – but just a walk, without any destination in mind.  I will talk on the phone with a friend, hear a kind voice and the miraculous sound of someone laughing at my ridiculous jokes.  I will write – not necessarily anything good – but words on a page that make me feel good.

Do one thing each day that you enjoy.

Now there’s a quote I’d put on a tote bag.

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