Facing Fear

I remember a conversation had with my children a number of times through the years.  It would take place following a frightening experience in one of their little lives; nightmares, something in a movie or on television that frightened them, bumps in the night.  Once hearts and minds were soothed the little question would come, “Mommy, what are you afraid of?”

Always my mind would race for a moment because I didn’t want anything I said next to bring up fear in them again.  I also wanted to appear strong and brave and as if I could save them from anything in the world.  So in order to soothe not only them but myself I would say, “I am afraid of anything happening to you, my babies.”  Maybe soothing isn’t the right word there.  When I look at it now, I can’t think of a more terrifying thing to say to a child.  When I said it then, I felt strong and brave by simply daring to glance in the direction of my greatest fear and thinking that because I had, it could never possibly, actually, happen, this… “anything.”  I also felt like I was explaining to them in some way why I would forever become a bit neurotic every time they left the house and until they were safe again at home.

What I didn’t realize, because I looked away so quickly, is that in that moment it started to size me up, take measurements.  It started imagining the renovations and how its own stuff would look in the hollowed out spaces once it got rid of mine.

Now when I look in the mirror, it looks back at the awkward fit and I don’t recognize this odd outfit… it is stiflingly tight, it pokes me, it makes me squirm with discomfort and I can’t take it off.  Each time I see it, it looks a little more like my own skin and I turn away in defeat.  My waking moments and my dreams alike are spent face to face, eye to eye, and toe to toe with my greatest fear and I cannot ever again look away.

Once your greatest imaginable fear has been realized, what’s left to fear?  Death?  Certainly not!  So, I look over my list of gnarly candidates for Grand Fear Poobah.  Death, having been stricken from the running, leaves pain, people, failure, judgment, humiliation, and success… and there’s another one whose nametag I can’t quite read from where I’m sitting.  I didn’t see that one come in.  The quiet one.

Spending some time with these candidates, I got to know them each a little better.  As we chatted over coffee, I realized all of them know each other.  They’ve all slept with each other and each other’s significant others.  They’ve all lied under oath, they’ve all embezzled millions from innocent people.  They’ve even murdered, raped, pillaged, and been merciless dictatorial leaders.  They’ve also been holy and righteous, they’ve all acted in the name of their individual Gods.  They’ve all donned sheep’s clothing.  They have even taken candy from babies.  All of them except the quiet one at the end of the table.

I soon began to realize this group had a couple more things in common.  They’ve all tried to convert me to their ways time and time again and they were all with me in the moment my previous Grand Poobah was dethroned.  They all saw it all.  Even the quiet one.

Suddenly, I realized I was actually chatting over coffee with only a single candidate.  And, where did the quiet one go?  Where did the others go?  The name tag on the one I see now reads, “Hello, my name is… The Great Unknown.”

As I look around for the others, I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the coffee pot and I look more closely.  Despite the odd, tight outfit that’s becoming my skin, I see a glimmer of something there, in my eyes… the quiet one.

Turns out, it wasn’t a list of gnarly candidates or anything else… it’s just fear… all of it; in flashy wannabe Grand Poobah robes.

Poofbah!  Stricken from the running.

Many times I’ve heard the words, “Fear Not… Fear Not… Fear Not…”  and no matter where or when I’ve heard them they’ve always been followed by a message of Love.

The quiet one.

I took a break from blogging as many of you noticed.  “Once your greatest imaginable fear has been realized, what’s left to fear?”  I asked myself this question as I made the difficult decision to retire from a successful twelve-plus year career as a licensed massage therapist in order to regain my physical and emotional strength following my daughter’s death as well as to follow the direction in which I believe Love is calling me … overcoming fear.

I decided to conquer something many fear more than death; public speaking.  My first attempt was rough and challenging.  I’ve never done this before.  But I did it.  And I’ll do it again.


8 thoughts on “Facing Fear

  1. I’ve been meaning to comment on this post for a while now. It’s hard to know how to encourage someone who is taking difficult steps every single day, to deal with such a loss. From my own experience, I have most often felt like every change I have made has almost been done blindly, innately, strictly out of a need to survive. Yet it still took courage and strength. It sounds like you are making important changes that are right for you, and this is so good to see.

  2. Dear Melissa~
    Thank you so much for helping to re-ignite in me a purpose that I had subconsciously buried. Your words and courage have reminded me so much of myself in the wake of the nearly unbearable minutes…hours…days…weeks…months, and first years following “the unthinkable.” I still can’t pin-point why I stopped my own blogging, or the reason I ceased to search out others who shared my pain. It is such a critical part of survival under these circumstances that have brought us together in spirit to face the most difficult kind of grief imaginable. I remember now what I knew so clearly back then…the greatest (and only) gift from my pain is the ability to help others like me get through theirs. It is exactly what you are doing now in such a powerful and profound way. In my heart I will always thank you for bringing me back to realize the importance of that responsibility. God bless you, your grieving family, and especially that sweet angel watching over you from Heaven!

    • My goodness… I’m so deeply touched by your comments. I have so many thoughts and feelings flowing through me as I read them over & over. Thank you, for touching me, someone who’s further on, who’s still living and breathing. Thank you for letting me know that I have touched you despite the fact that I feel I’m flopping around as if I can’t swim in a sea of emotion and the life going on around it. You are right. It is so true, no, it is *truth* that what I’m going through now, what you’ve been through and are continuing to experience, the places we are now, the points we have in common, connect us as humans. I never thought my blog would touch another person. In fact, I felt and in some ways hoped that I would just sit down here and pour out my heart and that Dannica would hear me and in some way, that would be enough. Every moment of my life with her in it, inspired me to be a better person. I said and continue to say I want to be just like her when I grow up. She was so kind, so loving, so accepting. As we approach this weekend, Mother’s Day… I continue to feel blessed and inspired by the gift I was given to be her mother. She’s not physically here, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m her mother and it’s still the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. Me… *that* blessed. Six months, twelve. Two years, twenty. God bless you, your grieving family and your own sweet angel watching over you from Heaven.

  3. I haven’t blogged, or searched blogs, for quite some time. Tonight, as I was missing my precious daughter, I decided to see what was out there. Discovering your words, insight, the raw beauty of your emotions was more healing to me than I realized I needed right now. Thank you for that.

    • Dear Traci… Thank you. I can’t believe how much the photos of your precious daughter remind me of mine. You are one I’ve looked for… one who has experienced not having to put on a happy face in the face of the really challenging times. You’ve reminded me that I am still expecting too much of myself. For me, it has only been 5 months; not years. Love and peace to you and thank you for sharing your own journey, as well. Melissa

  4. You write so beautifully. My precious daughter died 103 days ago. I started a Hospice in her honour. Honouring your child is the greatest thing you can do for her now. Hugs.

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