Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fear, Excitement and Chemical Soup

A friend asked me today what was making my griefwalk so challenging.  I had been thinking about that myself and so I had an answer, or at least part of one.

For as many years as I can remember, back to my childhood, my mother was always the most significant figure in my life.  As she aged, and I took on more and more of her care, that central role became more prominent.  Now, at her passing, it's not just her death that I grieve, but a radical shift in my whole life.

My friend commented that such a place to be could be a bit scary.  And yes, it is.  For my entire life, I had one constant--mother, her needs, her wants, her presence.  Now, all of sudden, she is gone and there are possibilities and challenges opening up that I never even considered before.

I learned in a seminar that the chemical response to fear is only one molecule different than that of excitement. That's why things like roller coasters that terrify me can be thrilling to someone else.  In their chemistry, the experience is processed as exciting; in mine it comes across as terror. They think, "Woo Hoo. This is a blast!"  I think, "OMG, I'm going to die!"

Right now, my chemistry is looking into the future with terror, not excitement.  My heart pounds, not with the thrill of new horizons, but as if a rabid wolf who hasn't eaten in a month is right on my heels. So last night, I tried something.  I tried consciously to shift my feelings from fear to anticipation.

Now I'm not going to say that it was a resounding success and that I flashed from one state to another, but I did sense a tiny little shift in the chemical soup that is coursing through my veins.  It was if I could see that fear and excitement are truly close and that maybe, with practice, I might be able to create and hold that shift for longer than a nanosecond.

It's worth a try.

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