Paralyzing Fear

I landed at my destination, proceeded to pick up my checked luggage and make my way to my hotel.  I was happy to have gotten away in pursuit of something I love – the study of language and culture!  While I imagined the possibilites for transforming my life, I was frequently reminded that the torment I held in me back home came along for a free ride too. Only my location had changed.

I was at a point  where I was desperately searching for an anchor in my life. Seeking my purpose.  The point of my own existence.  I felt like I was failing in all parts of my life.  And my pride got in the way of admitting it wasn’t working.

I didn’t know how to make my marriage work, my consulting business was slowing down, and I felt like I was having a hard time holding it all together.

I imagined that if I pursued something I loved while continuing to accept the challenges, everything would magically transform and be all better.

My life became more about accepting and managing my lot as if there were no other choice.  I adjusted myself to make an exception here and then there to my personal comfort zone.  I compromised to make this and that work. Eventually, I was kept busy remembering to perform all the new little rituals I’d adopted.

I believed that if I made enough room for everybody else’s needs, eventually mine would be considered.  Someday, I told myself, we’ll all arrive at some egalitarian utopia of euphoric bliss.  I just have to stay alert and organized and keep things moving.

But I couldn’t keep it up and I was starting to show signs of wear and tear from the stress of it all.

I couldn’t get pregnant for all the trying, but managed to grow a 5 lb. tumor in my uterus that had to be surgically removed.  I had developed chronic migranes.  I couldn’t sleep.  I was gaining weight.  I was crying sporadically for unknown reasons.  I’d have outbursts of anger and resentment.  I stopped wanting to see people, because they always “needed” something from me.

Three weeks into my trip my husband came to visit me for a vacation.  3 days into his stay, he left a “Dear Jane” letter on the bed while I was in class and returned to the USA without so much as seeing my face.

A Paralyzing Fear

And that’s when the earth began to crack and shimmy and shake beneath my feet.  I watched it break apart all around my feet until all that was left was a tiny patch of land at the edge of cliff.   All the muscles of my body tensed up and the last breath I would take, left my chest.  I watched the massive area of land descend in slow motion into the darkness below me.

I looked around and saw there was only sky, birds, sunlight, and the little patch of land beneath my feet.  I could not see what lie below me. I could not walk away in any direction.

So many questions passed through my mind.  What the hell happened? What am I going to do now?  How could I leave this spot? Why is this happening?

Day after day passed while I stood and watched the sun come up and disappear . I stood where I was and waited for a sign. The wind whipped against my body while I worked to keep my balance on my little patch of earth.  

Mother nature went on about her life and walked by me through the four seasons.  And still I waited for the path to return from the abyss so that I could leave.

One day decided to try sitting down.  I had stood for so long that I wasn’t used to sitting anymore and my legs felt uncomfortable trying to get into position.

As I rested on my little spot, I reached my hands below the surface of my seat and noticed that the earth was firm and had ridges in it like little handles.  For a moment I pondered whether I could climb down the stalk.

I quickly dismissed the thought, because I reasoned that I have no idea what lies below.  What if it is much worse than this?

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.” ― William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

So I stayed and tried to manage all my affairs while fixed in the same position.  It was uncomfortable, but once again, I worked hard at accepting where I was at.  And once again, I convinced myself that I had no other choice but to do so.

The years went on as I watched the birds come and go.  The sun rise and set. The seasons cycle.  Often I’d reach below me and grasp onto one of the handles.  I’d fantasize about the possibilities of what could be out there.

I remembered when I was an explorer of this world.  Not a spectator.  I remembered when I was afraid, but did it anyway.  I remembered when I was courageous.

These memories and fantasies sustained me in position for a long time.  I convinced myself that at least I had traveled in the past like I had always wanted to.  At least I had been fearless at one time.

As time went on I’d learned to manage, though the clarity of my past adventures began to fade and the urge to leave bubbled to the surface more often creating a different kind of discomfort.

I couldn’t sit still.  The dissonance between my current reality and my curiosity to explore undiscovered possibilities, sharpened into a weapon that stabbed at my mind relentlessly.

serenity prayer

I realized that I did have a choice after all.  Only two, but at least a choice.

1) I could either continue to live what I’ve come to know or 2) take a risk and climb down to see what lies below the stalk.

Both choices require courage.  The first would require the courage to live without passion in favor of perceived stability.  The second, the courage to trust myself and embrace the unknown and the uncertain.

I want to find the courage in myself to climb.  But I am still sitting here only playing with the earth’s handles while being poked at to make a decision.

And so the journey continues as a third choice comes to light.  The choice of making no choice. It sure is painful to sit on a fence for too long…

Have you found the courage to get off the fence or are you sitting there with me?

– With love from aneternaltraveler 😉

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