Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Facing Fear

 I've always been a journal keeper, but since my mother's death, I've written pages and pages, more than any other time in my life.  Oddly enough, they aren't in a journal, but on scraps of paper, yellow pads, backs of envelopes...whatever seems to be near at hand.  The other odd thing is that I have always been nearly compulsive about writing with black ink, but every word I've written in the past two months has been in blue.

I don't know what that all means, if it means anything at all, but it is something I've noticed.

I've also been reading in great gulps, washed down with more journaling.  My reading list includes everything from spiritual classics like My Daily Bread to modern best-sellers like Tolle's The Power of Now, books on grief, books on new life, on change, on fear, on anxiety, on transformation, on change.  I prowl through the library listings, ordering titles to be sent to my branch library, downloading eBooks, visiting the hospice center bereavement lending section.  The volumes cascade along the sides of my bed, tuck beneath my pillow, slip under the seat of the car, back up on my Kindle. And always, along with the books, are the pieces of paper and the blue pen.

Today I took some time to go back and reread some of the pages.  One of the constant, reoccurring themes is an intense, at times almost overwhelming, sense of fear.  It drips off the pages, in the same way that it saturates my life right now.

Right this moment, there are no wild animals gnawing on my feet; no notice of foreclosure has been posted to my door; my refrigerator has bread, eggs and fruit enough for a meal and the electricity is still on, so I'm not in any actual danger.  The reality is that I am afraid of what might be coming next. 

With all that has happened recently, I find myself in an almost constant state of anxiety about the future.  It's not entirely paranoid, given that from the time my mother broke both her legs and that midnight hospital trip until now, almost every phone call has meant something new and painful that I have to deal with. I've been in a state of high alert for nearly two years and that much adrenalin pouring into my body all the time has to create the ideal petri dish for fear and anxiety.  I find my mind racing, trying to out think whatever new dread might be lurking, as if I could somehow outwit the future if I just imagine all the possible awful things that could happen.  And let me tell you.  I can imagine  A LOT!!

Now here's where a person who is a good example of faith would insert an uplifting lesson involving some pithy experience.  But as I admitted a few days ago, I'm really not a very good example right now.

There are a couple of things I can say, however:
1. Sometimes just getting through a day is enough.
2. Breathing is really important.  The more stressed and afraid, the more important it is to breathe.
3. Fear can be a great tool to dieting.



  1. We know about fear - real and anticipated. The first two responses are "right on" - survive the present moment (until "living" takes over again) and breathe. I'm afraid number three doesn't work for me as stress seems to lead to chocolate in any shape or form!

    I think that the grief of a mother's death is so intense, and perhaps second only to the death of a long time and loving spouse. I am thinking of you and holding you in prayer.

  2. I sort of careen between being unable to eat and devouring chocolate bunnies these days. :)

    I was very very close to my mother and her death was like having the tide pull all the sand out from under my feet. I'm not surprised that I am fearful, but sometimes the intensity of it surprises me.

    The other thing I hadn't expected is just how tired I am. Griefwalking is a hard process.


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