Monday, April 20, 2009

Facing Into the Fear

Facing Into the Fear

A confession...

"You will make the necessary changes when your fear of the unknown becomes less painful than the familiar misery."

Ten years ago, I heard that statement for the first time from someone who thought they were being helpful and profound. But, when one is stuck in darkness, those in the light are truly unable to help, no matter what brilliant quip they have to share. From then on, I heard it over and over until I thought I would vomit from the repetition. It caused me a great deal of rancor and frustration. In hindsight, it makes perfect sense. Then, though, it was something more than I could bear and it took more than five years for me to act upon it.

Do you remember my compositions on Spiders? Jo, the "extremely large spider," went away for some time. I have come to the conclusion that Jo, whom I originally pegged as male, was truly female. After she had been gone for awhile, evidence of her womanly nature appeared all around the entrance of my home in a seemingly unending supply of baby spiders for a few days.

I saw her once more after the emergence of her offspring. Sadly, though, it seems one or two good broods are about all a female spider can live through. I believe Jo has traveled to the "Great Beyond for Spiders" where no humans pester her or her magnificent webs.

Most of her children left the area for good after materializing from apparent thin air. However, three of them stayed - each of them building their webs in strategic areas equally as inspired as their mother's. Of those three who chose to stay on as my protectors and patrons, only one remains.

This particular spider has built a web with utmost skill that is twice as big as any of Jo's and is even more prominently placed than my original resident's. There are several feasts stored there continually - poor, wayward insects that have wandered into her masterful trap. During the two months I have been observing her it seems she has grown daily. A few days ago I caught a glimpse of her in her hiding place above me. I was stunned to find she was even bigger than her mother. Do spider's really grow that fast? Or could this be my Jo?

I was astounded at her size and found myself shuddering, even though I thought I was accustomed to the presence of my determined guests. I'm pretty good at escorting out those that have gone astray, ending up, most frequently, in my daughter's room. At any rate, she and I have made an unspoken pact to not harm the creatures which have become a part of our life. They don't bother us, really, other than the momentary alarm upon sighting them in our domain. And, as long as they stay in their "corners," they are welcome to join us.

Now, for the confession...

The other night, while brushing my teeth before bed, I had a strange sensation that "someone" was in the bathroom with me. Since I was alone and my daughter was at her father's house for the night, it was an uncomfortable experience. I looked around me, trying to peg the source. Then I glanced at the floor.

There, six inches from my foot and calmly sitting between the edge of the rug and the baseboard, was Jo - or her colossal daughter. Literally, I choked on my toothpaste as I gasped with - was it horror?

Quickly regaining composure and spitting out whatever I hadn't already swallowed, I heard myself say, "Well! Hello, Jo."

I was talking to a Spider! Some would say I had lost all touch with reality!

"What are you doing in here? We live in here. You live out there. You know the deal. "

Jo didn't respond - thank goodness!

I found a container to escort her outside and slowly knelt down, assuming the voice of calm, "Okay, Jo. C'mon. Let's go outside. Oh! Be careful. No, go this way. I don't want to hurt you."

Can you even picture it? There I was, kneeling in my bathroom, talking to and coaxing this Spider as though she could understand me!

Jo could not understand, however. And I could actually see her trembling. Why not? Here was this huge object coming toward her that could mean - and appeared to mean - it was to be the death of her. She turned tail and ran the opposite direction of my vessel. Luckily, I was able to foresee her decision and placed the container at the end of her tunnel. She ran straight in and scurried around and around, trapped and hoping for a way out of the hell she found herself in, I am sure.

She was frisky and feisty. In her frenzy she almost propelled herself out twice on my three second walk to outside, causing me to jump and jostle the bin. If she had succeeded, it would have been the end of us both. She would have fallen to her death and I surely would have had a heart attack!

Releasing her into the wild, she took off like her legs were on fire. She was across my porch and out of sight before I was even able to stand up. She probably felt relief. I know I did. And, for a moment, I also felt something akin to sorrow.

I have spent many quiet moments pondering that feeling.

So many things are changing in my life right now. From one day to the next, I have no idea what is in store. Some occurrences are sweet. Some are exciting. Some are breathtaking. Some are calming. Some are just plain horrible. But they are happening at such a quick rate, I am having a tough time keeping up.

I relate this to how new Jo must have felt when she saw the big tub coming her way. She had no idea what was going to happen, or where it would take her or what the end result would be. All she was certain about was: there it was. There was no way around it. She had to face it, charge straight ahead and hope for the best outcome.

Sometimes, there are things in life which loom so largely before us we are certain we will not make it through in one piece, if at all. We feel frozen with fear and are uncertain of our next step. We may stand there, facing the obstacle, trembling and wondering if there is another way. Can I side-step this? Is there an easier way? Can I avoid it all together?

You stand there, questioning what is before you, fearing the unknown, wondering if you have the strength to stay where you are - which sometimes requires more courage and strength than going forward into the unknown. It is then, when the prospect takes your breath away and makes your heart stop, that you must reach down deep and just charge forward with faith. You will find strength you did not know you had.

Jo ran headlong into her obstacle. She didn't really have a choice because she was running for her life and the obstacle moved and she was trapped. Life has a way of doing that sometimes. When you are immobilized with fear or doubts or disbelief, Life takes over and may give you a violent shove in the direction you need to face.

When you are faced with a decision that is the start of your Life's true path and you are staring at the obstacle that is causing fear, you have three choices:

  • Cover your face, cower in fear and wait for Life to take over and make the decision for you;
  • Turn tail and run like hell until Life moves the obstacle enough times that you are trapped and have no other choice but to face it;
  • Or, the one choice that, on the surface appears the most difficult but is truly the least painful, move of your own free will and step forward.
Looking back, I can honestly say that the first step out of familiar misery is definitely the most difficult to make. But, truly, there is no courage if there is no fear. Face into the fear. Conquer the obstacle. Run for your life, with all of your might. Your destiny lays waiting on the other side. There you will find freedom and unbound joy. There you will truly find You.

©Angie K. Millgate 10/2003

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