I hope you all had a safe and happy fourth of July.
Summer is underway – barbecues, pool parties and lazy, sunny days at the beach will be enjoyed for the next couple of months. This is the time for us to re-charge our batteries, get some much needed Vitamin D, and wear light, airy clothing.
Summer is also a popular season to take trips – to enjoy the abundant vacation destinations along the East Coast, see the country, see other countries.
This brings me to the subject of this post: Facing fears.
I’m not talking about minor fears like wearing a bathing suit in public. (On that note, I’m still waiting for someone to develop a suit that begins at the neck, extends to the knees, and looks sexy. Until that time, I will continue to subject myself to the cruelty of the Miracle suit. They call it a miracle suit because it’s a miracle I get one on.)
No, I’m talking about debilitating fears like flying or emotional exposure – i.e. writing a book or blog.
I hate to fly. I am scared shi@#*ss of flying. There is nothing natural about propelling a ten-ton piece of metal, carrying hundreds of people, 35,000 feet above earth, at speeds faster than sound. Nothing.
My aversion to flight grew with age. I used to love traveling by plane, when I was younger and thought I would never die. Before kids. Before middle age. Before responsibility. Now, I especially fear flying without my children, believing I am the only person capable of raising them my way. I should be the one who screws them up and no one else.
But people do it everyday. And if I want to go anywhere outside of the Tri-State area, I have to overcome this phobia.
My husband said to me, “You might want to stop telling people you’re afraid. We’ve been to Europe twice within fifteen months. They’ll think you’re lying.”
I’m not lying. I’m also not going to stop living. I’m not going to prevent my husband or family from going anywhere because I’m afraid. When we went to Europe, Xanax got me there. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I was asleep in my seat before we even taxi’d to the runway – both times, both ways. The airline attendants had to physically wake me to ask if I understood that I was in the Emergency Row exit and was I capable of assisting the crew in the event of an emergency. I nodded, said “of course” and promptly fell back asleep.
What were they going to do to me if I didn’t help during an emergency. Move me?
For our most recent trip to Florida, I decided I was sick of being afraid, sick of the dread that held me for days prior to leaving, sick of thoughts while I packed, such as “Hmm, what do I want to wear as I plummet to my death?” Sick of it. If it’s my time, it’s my time. I’d leave it up to a higher power – my husband. He promised me we’d be okay.
I read an Erma Bombeck article several years ago that stuck with me. She listed life lessons she’d accrued and one of them was: You will not die in a plane crash.
Oh Erma, I do hope you’re right.
For this trip, I decided to replace Xanax with Michael Bublé. With his crooning voice, loud in my ears as my eyes stayed closed, I was able to tune out unfamiliar plane sounds and announcements. Ironically, I could still hear the attendant when she asked if I wanted chips or cookies (I took both). He serenaded me the entire flight and I did okay. Thank you, Michael.
Facing our fears is a constant battle. There are so many worrisome factors in life. But there is no better feeling when one is confronted and conquered.
I’d always wanted to write a book, but apprehension kept me from realizing this dream. Would it be too hard? Was I capable of finishing once I started? Would anyone read it? Well, I wrote it. I thought it was good. In fact, I loved it. I had no idea how it would be accepted. So, I held onto it for a while, trying to decide whether or not to put it out there and expose myself to the world. Fear kept me from moving to the next step.
Life is short. It’s unpredictable. So what if people don’t like it? There was only one way to find out.
Turns out, people are responding to it in ways I didn’t expect. And I’m happy beyond words. Now, I’m anxious that my second book will not be accepted the same way.
A constant personal battle I’ll have to face. But I’ll do it. What have I got to lose?
If you have a phobia, try to face it. Start with a small one. Put on that bathing suit. Go ahead. It will make you stronger. I promise. Except Arachnophobia – if you’re afraid of spiders, keep away from them. That’s a perfectly logical fear. And you’re not alone. I’m with you.
I’ll always be with you.