What Are You Afraid Of?

By Jana

February 21, 2023

2 Coments

If you had asked me when I was three years old what I was afraid of, I would have told you I was afraid of nothing.

Ask me again at the age of five, I would have told you I was afraid of the dark.

At the age of ten, I would tell you I was afraid of clowns hiding under my bed and vampires lurking in the shadows, hungry for my blood.

Interestingly, at the age of fifteen, had you asked me what I was afraid of, I would have again said, nothing. I felt excited about the future and confident about my abilities.

Seventeen, seventeen was an interesting year. At the age of seventeen I would have told you I was afraid of a hand full of particularly mean girls. They scared me. I would have told you I feared their anger, prejudice, ignorance and how that tainted their picture of me. They were out for my blood.

My mom told me not to allow them to scare me or keep me from doing the things I wanted to do. So, I went. I went to the football game. That girl, the one who hated me for being smart and pretty, she didn’t show up. Her threat was empty. And I had fun. I felt proud of myself for not allowing her to keep me from doing what I wanted to do. I was also grateful for my mom’s advice. I’ve never forgotten it.

Age is an interesting thing. Time even more elusive. The passage of time. What does it mean? How does it shape us?

Eighteen years old, I became afraid of the world. I’m not sure why. All I know is that it started slowly. It whispered in my ear seductively. In the darkness, I heard it calling to me. During the day I could avoid it.

Until my body heard its voice. My body felt the vulnerability. Trauma was trapped there without a way to escape. It began to grow and stretch. So many memories, buried deep, seeking a path. A path that winds through my life.

The pain began in my back. It began in my sacrum. At the heart of everything. My womanhood, my creativity. My sacred home, burrowed into my deepest sanctum. A sanctum that nobody else should be able to see or touch without invitation.

Slowly, it crept outwards. Strangling.

I was a dancer. The feel of a hardwood floor under my toes. It was seductive. Powerful. My body moved, undulating with the music. Doing as I told it to do. Graceful, sinuous. Beautiful. Moving with a melody or pounding with the drums. I floated. I soared. Every muscle attune with the rhythms that persuaded my muscles, my bones, my tendons, my heart.

My heart. It faltered. Afraid. My body no longer cooperated. It was tired, so tired. The aching consuming, eating. My bed called to me from every corner, every moment of my life. Standing is a chore. Standing is exhausting. A chair, it became my best friend. It became my only recourse.

And I sit and watch. I watch as the days and the years go by. Taunting me, asking me to live, knowing that I can’t. Knowing that if I do my body will crumble. Crumble underneath the weight of its torment.

And so, dance left me. Whisked away by so many winds. Winds of desire. Winds of yearning. Winds of hope. Hope, fading, fading.

In the morning I roll over and moan. Another day. What will happen today? What pain awaits me?

I yawn and stand up. Swooning with the weight of the world. The weight of my body. The weight of what? Loneliness? Desire? Hope? Fear? Yes, fear. It’s fear. Fear that my body is rotting. Rotting from the inside out. Rotting from fear.

Another day, another new job. Yet another job that will bore me until I can no longer stand. A job that will suck the life out of me and leave me trembling. The trembling, it won’t stop. I tremble now all the time. It begins at my core and resonates to my fingertips. A glass drops, crashing to the ground. My eyeball stings, watering again from the poke. A poke I couldn’t control, though I tried.

I hear it, on the wind. A whisper. I feel it in my bones. A rumble. I rub my eyes and keep moving. If I keep moving it will go away. I turn up the music. I sing louder. I have another beer. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow will be better.

Twenty-five and the fear has turned into sorrow. Or is it yearning? Yearning for something different. Yearning for a new wind. A wind to blow me in a new direction. A direction less harrowing. A direction of stability. Normalcy.

Normalcy. What is normalcy? Is it normal to have dizzy spells. Is it normal to tremble? What is normal? I don’t know, having never experienced it.

What am I afraid of now? Thirty-five, an adult. What am I afraid of? Everything. And Nothing. All at once.

I’m afraid of everything. I’m afraid of everything. Every. Thing.

The sun rises and I fear it will scorch me. My engine starts and I fear its imminent explosion. I will certainly fall off this ski lift and plunge to my death. My heart is racing, it’s a heart attack. My head swirls and the pavement comes up to assault me, bashing in my head. The water might sweep me away. My legs will wobble and I will crash down the stairs. The twitch in my arm will certainly cut off a finger, slice my wrist. And I will bleed out.

Alone. Alone. I will lay my head down on my pillow, never to wake. Never to wake. Sleeping. Forever.

The mornings are the hardest. And the nights. The nights are the hardest. And the mornings. I wake up and seek out the sun but the sun is in shadow. It lingers in the clouds, nestled up in its own warmth. The sun doesn’t want to come out. And neither do I.

The middle of the day is such a struggle. I can’t make it another step.

And yet, a good day. Today, I feel great. I will conquer the world today. Today, the sun shines and the heart beats and life goes on. The sun found its way out into the warmth. It stretches its limbs, yawning. Such a long winter. And on. And on. I will go on. I will survive.

What am I afraid of? I’m afraid of my body. My body, it scares me. My body is a mystery. My body betrays me. My body, its mysteries abound. Always crying out. It needs me. I don’t know how to help it.

I’m angry. So angry. I don’t know where to turn. I scream. I cry out. I whimper. I plead. I must sit quietly now. Quietly now and think. There’s a power inside of me, welling up. Yearning to be heard. It’s a power I’ve possessed since birth. A power that is my right.

I breathe and I sigh. I sigh and I breathe. In the end, I sigh and breathe at the same time. And I am heard.

I hear myself. I’m listening. I’m right here. You are not alone, I tell myself. I was never alone.

A tiny plant grows. It grows in the darkness, in a place hidden from above. Nurtured by love, nestled in deep. Deep in that place where no one else can go, unless invited.

All it needs is tender love. A tenderness that can only come from one place. A place of ease, contentment. Serenity. This plant can grow here and here alone. I will water it and look after it. It grows and flourishes, despite the noise outside. It grows because it wants to live. It wants to see the sun. Growing. Reaching out its limbs, seeking warmth and comfort. A comfort found in grace, gratitude. And perpetuity. Perpetuity. Security. Safety. You are safe here little one.

And the pain. The pain is deep, it lingers in dark corners. But, it isn’t scary. The fear, it was only your deep desire to survive. The fear, it goaded you forward. Forward towards a more sustainable way of being. You are okay. Your body, it saved you. Your mind, it sustained you. Your soul, it breathed new life into you and showed you the way. A way to heal. A way to prosper. A way to succeed.

2 Comments

    1. Yes, it will end! I hate to say something like, “I’m glad you can relate” because it’s not a fun thing to relate to. But, thank you for your comment and support. I’m so happy you’re here! I hope it touched you in a helpful and hopeful way.

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