We all know fear in one form or another. Described 'dictionarily' it is: A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid. So what.
I think I've held life-long fear in my very bones. My near-death experiences from cancer and my daily struggles with Lupus and fibromyalgia and gastroparesis also keep me in a suspended state of never knowing what shoe will drop. In my case, I hope it's a red stilletto in homage and honor of my dear, departed friend and colleague Susan Murphy Milano, a tireless advocate for those abused by partners or spouses and the author of several books including her memoir, Holding My Hand Through Hell.
Fear has its hold on me through anxiety and terror, remnants of full-blown attacks of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) resulting from the emergency tracheotomy and the many, many horrific events of my cancer and ongoing tests, surgeries and treatment that continue to this day. Couple that with depression and I'm lucky I make it out of the house some days.
"Make a great day," I used to chirp to my sons as they would leave for elementary or middle school until they told me to shut my trap. I secretly hope they will repeat that to their own offspring one day. If they don't, I'll tell their wives to do it, if I get the chance.
Today, however, I'm really scared. I have loved ones who are facing medical tests and challenges that make me want to run away like my hair is on fire! I can't help but be empathetic yet also terrified. And the PTSD comes roaring back, in nightmares, massive anxiety, tension headaches and an ever-present cloud of uncertainty that rocks my world. I know this is 'fight or flight' syndrome. I may know it but - still - my conscious self can't correct my unconscious thoughts, feelings, and flat out fear.
For the past few days, I've been pissed off at everyone and letting them know. I had to literally check myself at the door last night to make sure I didn't do it again to my own nuclear family. It's not fun to live in fear although I feel as if I've been doing it all my life. I should be used to it, no? Does our crummy childhood or past experiences ever leave us alone?
Never. My upcoming memoir and website will clearly define how adverse childhood experiences do affect adult physical and mental health.
So I'll try my bag of soothing tricks including deep breathing, soft music, comfort foods - the usual. Again, I know what to do but it never gets easier. The 'bricks' are back - those knotted muscles in my shoulders that always seem to be in the up position. Yeah, yeah, there's meditation and yoga, too. Or simple walks with my dog. I know! Stop telling me what to do! I'll figure it out on my own, in my own time, in my own ways.
In the meantime, if you're struggling with fear, please know that you are not alone and many, many others are treading water, too. Cheers!