The ABC’s of Me
Dale Carnegie once said, "Fear doesn't exist anywhere except in the mind." My life, unfortunately, has been a testament to this statement. I have been in a constant battle with my mind for as long as I can remember.
As a child, my mother says I would practice any new skill in the basement before doing it in front of my friends. I'd fall off my bike without training wheels a hundred times in the partially unfinished basement to avoid falling off in the street in front of our house. Later in my childhood, I developed a crippling fear of dogs after getting attacked by an Irish Setter. Then it was tornadoes and my parents getting a divorce. Mrs. Poole, my fourth grade teacher with the giant afro and the gold front tooth and fire, when a string of arson fires were set in the surrounding woods around our house. Probably most irrational was my fear of being executed. Never mind that I was probably the most obedient child ever, and that I always followed the rules.
As a young adult, my fears were mostly based on what others thought of me. I hated being the center of attention, hated to do anything that brought attention to myself, hated to meet new people.
Until this point, most of my fears were unfounded. Except the dog attack, none of the things that terrified me had ever happened. I had never been in a tornado, my parents were happily married, and the closest I ever came to the electric chair was a string of speeding tickets. No one ever laughed at me for doing something stupid, and most everyone who I met liked me.
Then I turned 30. There is nothing magical or maniacal about that age. It just happened to be the age I was when my entire life was upended. My husband left me. I lost my home. I was unemployed and had three small children to provide for. For the first time in my life, people were talking about me. I was doing things that I thought I would never do, seeing things I thought I never would see, going places I swore I never would. But throughout it all, I kept it together and stayed strong for my children. I wanted to keep their childhood as stable and fear-less as possible.
Just when I had made it through the hardest times and was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the fear consumed me. This time, there was no momma to drive me to the bus stop so I didn't have to face the dogs, or school nurse to assure me that I was OK and could return to class, or book I could disappear into to avoid other people. This time, the fear gripped me so tightly that I could not function. I took care of my children, put them in bed, and retreated to my bedroom where I would fight through the fear, one debilitating panic attack after another until morning light.
Fifteen years later, and I am still fighting through the fear. I no longer suffer panic attacks, due partially to medication, partially to my wonderful husband and the stability he has provided, and mostly due to my faith and a loving and merciful heavenly Father. Dogs do not scare me any more, nor do tornadoes. I am fairly certain that my parents will remain married, and that I will not die in the electric chair. I do believe, though, that just as some people are born with brown eyes, that I was born to bear this burden, as part of God's plan for my life.
"I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today."
William Allen White
William Allen White