“It must be a poor life that achieves freedom from fear” – Aldo Leopold
I’ve recently done a few things I’ve never done before; learned how to use crutches for the first time, had my first experience on opioids (not nearly as fun as people make it sound). Things that, well, many people have done and treated like they were “no big deal”. I beg to differ, as one, in particular, was absolutely petrifying to me.
I took a dive off of a deer stand a couple of months ago, and in the process broke my fibula, ruptured my ACL, and dug up the meniscus. It hurt, and a repair would most definitely be in order if I ever wanted to go for a hike in the woods without a knee brace ever again. I do want to hike in the woods without a knee brace, so surgery was my option. From the majority of people, I received an “oh you poor thing” response to the downtime, crutches time, discomfort, etc. For me, it was about something totally different – I’ve never been put out. I don’t mean I’ve never been inconvenienced kind of “put out”, I mean, I’ve never been anesthetized to the point of being unconscious before. THAT kind of “put out”.
Again, I realize for most people this is no big deal. My husband has had it done several times. It’s no big deal. Ok – sure. Many others I talked to said the same thing, “you barely fall asleep and you’re waking up, it’s fine!” Yeah, whatever. It’s this deep inner fear of perhaps not waking up that scares me to almost the point of wanting to forgo the surgery. Folks, I’m not kidding. The fear is real. It’s a full-on phobia. Yes, it’s that real, and maybe a bit irrational.
I get it from my Mom, I swear. My mother has never been “put out” ( I can’t even say “put under” because it totally makes me think of being dead and buried) either and is also completely creeped out by the thought of it. She’s on my side. We both feel it’s creepy – just plain creepy!
At this point, I’d like to out myself as a huge control freak. If you know me personally, you’re busting a gut right now with a huge “Dah!” coming out of your laughing mouth. Anyone who knows me knows this is true. I’ve worked on this for years, and have made good progress, but when push comes to shove, I want to be doing the shoving. Let’s just put it this certain way, or at minimum, I want to be choosing the direction.
As Spirit would have it, one day while mentally and emotionally prepping for surgery and the time off on the other side of it, I came across a quote by Aldo Leopold. “ It must be a poor life that achieves freedom from fear”. Fascinating. And then, it got me thinking. What would life be like if we were never afraid, or if every time we felt afraid, we walked away from the fear?
Think about it: would you have your education? Your job? Your spouse? Your home? Your children? Would you have anything if you never let yourself be afraid?
I honestly can’t think of a time when I took a major stride in my life that I wasn’t somewhat afraid. I moved to Florida to be a nanny when I was 18 years old and then moved back at 20 to go to massage school. On the first day of massage school, pulling into that parking lot, I was terrified. I didn’t know anyone. I had no idea where I was going. No idea who to expect, what to expect, and had already decided I was going to hate it, quit, and make an arrangement with my boyfriend from MN to come and get me in a week and take me home. I’m not to kidding. By the end of the first day, I called him immediately after school, canceled the plans and told him this is exactly where I belong, and I already loved it. Not kidding about that either. My love and fascination with everything from the people I met to the subject matter had me instantly hooked.
I’ve run my own business for over 20 years. I have been married twice and divorced once. All scary. I had to qualify for my own mortgage after my divorce. I was terrified to meet with the people who hold all the authority over whether I could keep my house or not. I still own it, thank you. I remember when Clarence and I bought our lake place. I pushed and pushed him to move on it, and then in one call from the realtor, we were off to the races. An hour later, we owned it. The holy shit feeling ran through my body like a tidal wave. I had to sit down, I was shaking. What had we just done? That is a lot of money. The first time in the door once it was ours, all the fear was gone, and I’ve loved it ever since.
They say courage is not the absence of fear, but rather a choice to not let fear control you. Fear is essential to growth! I know none of us like this fact, but it is still a fact. If you’re not a little scared sometimes, you might want to check your go factor. Are you shifting, changing, growing, evolving? Or are you staying small and in protection, so you don’t ever have to be uncomfortable.
In our go get ‘em type of culture, we have entire industries dedicated to helping people eliminate their fear. I’ve had more people tell me over the years about their fear of being successful (I still question that one, but that’s another entire conversation) that I can’t count them all. Too often we are led to believe if we experience fear in regards to anything, we need to “work on that” and figure out how to not be afraid because there is this storyline that fear is bad and we shouldn’t be afraid. Screw that!
Being alive on this planet means there will be times you are afraid! This is just the simple truth, like it or not. Fear is part of the human condition. The difference is whether or not you let your fear run you, or if you can run it.
F – False
E – Evidence
A – Appearing
R – Real
We all have things that scare us, things we’re afraid to do, to try, be, let go of, maybe fail at. Yep. Welcome to life. Fear happens. Overcoming fear is what we call at our house, PFM (Pure F-ing Magic). There is nothing in this world that will give you the high of facing a fear and coming out on the other side of it. Sure, you might suck at something new the first time you try it. Yeah, you may very well feel like wetting your pants the entire time you’re walking through the proverbial fire. No judgment, Rome was not built in a day, my friend. Keep going. Success becomes its own weird craving. Starting small is always a great idea. Some people are designed to run full speed into anything and everything all the time – most of us are not. Eat the rhinoceros one bite at a time. If there is a goal, a burning desire, a “maybe I could…” that lives on the other side of an obstacle called fear, please know there is a way to navigate it. Find the way. Comfort in this world was never guaranteed to any of us.
I look at it this way – if you’re going to be uncomfortable in the fact that there is something you want but are afraid to go after, and you’re uncomfortable (ie; afraid, scared, shy, anxious) of going after it, you’re uncomfortable either way! You may as well be uncomfortable trying something instead of just sitting still wishing you had the courage.
An amazing woman once said to me, “I try to do something every day that scares me, it keeps me growing”. God bless her, she was so wise.
A week before surgery Clarence and I were out finishing our Christmas shopping and I found a metal sign that now hangs in my office. It says, “Let your Faith be bigger than your fear”. I know without question Spirit put that sign right in my face, and I bought it without thinking twice.
A week later I was walking into the St. Gabriel’s Hospital at 6 am practically in tears. I was scared. Every sign Spirit sent me told me I was going to be ok. I received numerous texts and kind gestures from people telling me they were praying, sending healing energy, Light, love, you name it. I felt so incredibly blessed … and still scared.
Step by step, moment by moment, I did my best to be mindful, present to myself amidst my fear.
When Clarence kissed me as they were wheeling me back to surgery, I had tears in my eyes. Everyone was great. The anesthesiologist read I was a coach and so we talked about the power of positive and I asked him to tell me funny stories when I was “out”. He agreed.
As we were talking, I dozed off, or so I thought. What seemed like seconds later I woke up. My first thought before I opened my eyes was that I had truly just dozed off and I was still going to have to be “put out”, which kind of made me mad. I felt kind of queasy. I checked to see if my knee was still there. I couldn’t feel a thing on my left leg. I tried moving my foot. Nothing. “Damn,” I thought, “that’s not going to tell me anything, they did a knee block when I was awake, I couldn’t feel my foot when I fell asleep”. Slowly I opened my eyes when I heard the clicking of computer keys next to me.
“Hey, how ya feeling?”
“Yucky” I was so groggy and felt a little nauseous and still wasn’t sure we were done, or if I still had to go in.
“Are we done?” I asked, praying we were.
“Yes, we are, you did great”. Oh, thank God!
“Do you want some juice or something to eat?” the nurse asked.
“Ick, no”. My normal filters had still not kicked in.
She giggled. “Ok, just rest”.
I barely remember them wheeling me back into my room, but I remember my husband’s face and his kiss. I did it!
The last couple of weeks not being able to bear weight on my foot have been awful, I’m not going to lie. Every day I get stronger, and I know this time will pass.
Am I looking for another chance to be under anesthesia? Not at all. But I also realize at some point life may provide one for me, and I recognize I don’t like it, but I don’t need to be afraid of it.
Right now, I’m just focusing on how great it will be to get back to normal. Normal. As in doing what I want, when I want, the way I want.
I didn’t lose the part of me that likes to be in control. I just learned that I can let other people who are really good at things that I am not good at, like orthopedic surgery and anesthesia, and nursing, do what they do, and trust them to keep me well.
What Leopold meant in his quotes is that we should not try to live a life without fear. As he saw it, a fearless life is a dead life.
Fear is growth, learning, tapping potential, evolving, and honestly, how we get to where we’re going. Life can be scary. But, we are powerful beyond our fears and become more powerful with each fear we step past.
Blessings Galore, Anne