It’s been said that courage is not the absence of fear – how true is that? If I stopped moving every time I was afraid, I would pretty much be immobile…
I used to say that fear is what kept me alive – and perhaps that’s true on a physical level, but how alive am I when fear keeps me from doing so much? I have been thinking about some of the things I would do if I wasn’t in this space I’m in.
I would take more risks, be more adventurous, do some things on my bucket list or at least have a bucket list to start with. I would get that those tickets to the World Cup cricket to be played at the WACA, go to a live rugby match when the All Blacks are playing, see a live concert no matter how big the crowds, take a train ride from Butler to Mandurah just for the experience, travel, go to that remote clinic in the Congo and help women to heal, share my space with another human being and risk loving and being loved. I’d learn more, work less, have more fun, spend time with my mum while she still remembers who I am! I would stop avoiding crowds and relationships and the myriad other things I avoid to feel ‘safe’!
I have a friend who is on a year long trip around the world and when I read of what she plans to do and has done already, I am both envious and incredulous at the same time. I wish I was brave enough to try even half of it but that’s not my journey! The very thought of getting on a plane never mind spending a year travelling alone scares me but maybe I could do it if I was in a better place, I don’t know. And just maybe I could do it afraid and still be ok!
None of us can be totally fearless – there are times when fear is a good thing; the only sane response to have – like when you are truly in danger! But there are times when fear is not rational and the crippling grip it can have sucks the life out of you – that’s not being alive at all.
There are days when I spend my whole day doing things on high alert – it’s exhausting. I am driving in to work with tears streaming down my face at the thought of having to get through another day. By the time I am there, I have composed myself and nobody can tell the turmoil I’m in. If breathing wasn’t a reflex, I wouldn’t have the energy to do that simple task some days.
I do have moments of respite – a visit from a friend, a funny video from my sister, a note from someone far away, an ‘I love you’ from someone who matters – but I long for the day when the tables are turned and they become the norm with infrequent but rational moments of fear.
I am reminded of the words of a song I have on my iPod:
The shadows of my life are all I can see! Fears deemed so small before loom up – that’s what it’s like living with PTSD – fears are magnified. I mentioned this line to someone – ‘I’m a traveller in the forest of my fears’ – and said I was trying to cut down that forest one tree at a time. She wisely asked why I don’t just travel through the forest – it would be quicker! But for now, my efforts are failing because most of the little energy I have goes into just surviving the day without a melt down; to banishing the dark thoughts that are trying consume me. So, with a little help, or a lot, that is what I am trying to do – travel through that forest.
I have this voice echoing in my head (and I am trying to listen to it) saying ‘You are loved and you matter.’ I am trying to replace the dark thoughts with happier ones and to continue to be grateful for every day.
Please be patient with me as I continue my journey towards wholeness. Some days I am better than others at getting out of my comfort zone. A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step and I have taken that first step…