Monday, September 12, 2016

Embracing fear

Fear is a story.  I feel afraid that I won't be seen or heard, that I am not enough, that I won't be loved.  I feel afraid that I have never been loved for who I am, afraid that I will never even grasp who I am.  However, those fears have been with me for a very long time and mostly it is just a tape of the mind.  The "what if" game can provide a lot of entertainment and emotion to keep fueling the downward spiral of "what if."  

Unfortunately I have yet to discover some magic cure for the "what if" game.  Mostly I pay attention to foundations and ask myself a lot of questions about eating, drinking, sleeping, resting, relaxing, playing ect...  I am continuously reminded that competence and skill overcome fear.  I tend to forget the impact of getting through something.  That is where we gain skill, getting knocked down and getting back up. It isn't so important how long it feels like we are down, it is the getting back up.  I am starting to accept that it is chosing to get back up and then fighting through all the obstacles is where we get our skill and how we learn what we are passionate about.  

I feel two different types of "fear". One is the fear that is created by the mind, the stories, the imagination put into the "what if" game.  This is where something triggers a downward spiral of imaginative events that could not match reality.  This is where the "shoulds" live.  Honestly this is the fear I spend a lot of my time with, this is where I fall down and continue to get back up.  These are the hardest falls for me, because when I am down, I don't remember that I know things to help me get back up.  Which is when my mind will deliver the final blow and tell me that means I don't want to get back up.  Because I don't remember how to get back up, I am ashamed to ask for help and am completely disconnected from reality, the mind has pretty good control of me. 

The second type of "fear" is more like caution, it is based on my experience.  It is actually useful, when it is used as information.  (I am cautious when climbing ladders, because I fell once.  I have a rule in the house that if someone is going up on a ladder that someone else needs to be in ear shot, because when I was little my Dad fell and luckily my brother was running late for work and was home to help him.)  This fear informs me and reminds me to be gentle, to pay attention but it is rarely paralyzing.  This caution serves to remind me that I have gotten back up, or some one else has gotten back up and asks me where my skill is.  

Right now I am dealing with both types of fear.  I am weaning myself off some medication, and this is a second attempt.  Last time I did this, things did not go smoothly, and I stayed in pain for long enough.  However, I also learned from that experience.  I had a long talk with my doctor about how to proceed in the future.  So I do have some skill, I have plenty of people I can ask to help me and it is a reminder to be gentle with myself as I start to wean myself off bladder medication that has helped enormously.

I am not a neuroscientist and it has been a while since I looked at my notes.  However I wonder if both types of fear activate the same centers in the brain, if they release the same neurotransmitters.  Because a lot of times when I am dealing with caution, fear also shows up.  

What is the story?  Is the mind riding that wave of neurotransmitters?  Because I also spin the story, that if weaning myself off the medication goes poorly again that is means I am not enough, that I haven't done enough to help, that I did something wrong.  The reality is my bladder lining may not be healed yet, for who knows what reason, there is only one way to find out.  The first step is to find out how I am doing, and then make a decision after that.  

Since I received my diagnosis and the doctor told me her map for how to treat this illness.  I have gotten to accept the map is not the terrain, that the doctors cannot predict what will help, what will make it worse, and how fast things will change.  Everyone that I have seen has reminded me to listen to my body, that the knowledge is there.  One of the biggest challenges of this illness has been for me to communicate that information to my doctors.  To ask for help and challenging myself to trust the terrain instead of the map.  

Question of the day: What is one of your hard won skills?  Take a moment to think about how many times you got back up to win that skill and appreciate yourself for continuing to rise.  

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