On the phone with a friend yesterday morning, we are catching up on each other’s lives; the places we’ve explored for the last year or two, the things we’ve learned.
She asks me about my 6-month trip and she says something about how I must have been scared, all alone out there.
I turn that word around in my mind for a few seconds, try to find the places where it would land, and I come up empty. No, I was not really ever scared.
I was alone, and sometimes I was lonely. I was occasionally sick, I was bored once or twice, I was lost on occasion, I was mind blown, too. But scared? No.
I tell her so, and I bring back a memory of getting into a van in the middle of the night, on a little country road in Italy. My friend had made me a reservation for a ride to the Milano airport and when the van showed up, she helped me get into it, closed the door and air kissed me goodbye. Once the van started, I looked around and realized that I was the only woman in the middle of eight men, and had no idea where we were, really. And more importantly, no one I loved had any idea where I was. What I remember thinking was: “this may not be a smart move.”
A couple of options ran through my mind and thinking that I could make myself crazy if I explored them any further, I leaned against my backpack and slept for the 90 minutes it took to get us to the airport.
On the other end of the telephone, I think I hear my friend’s surprise and somehow, it makes me a little bit surprised, too.
As I walk to work a bit later that morning, all bundled up and loving the cool air on what is showing of my face, I think about this some more.
I am not immune to fear. I may not feel it often, but when I do, it grabs my gut and squeezes nice and tight. And it usually does not have that much to do with vans full of men.
- My fear shows up when I worry that I may have hurt someone’s feelings without knowing it, or worse: with knowing it.
- It shows up when the plane shakes and I think of my children’s pain if I was to die at that moment. This one scares me the most.
- It shows up when I am faced with someone’s pain and my inability to soothe it.
- It shows up when I hear words that are wobbly and shifty and when I feel that I cannot lean on them to take a rest, for fear they will crumble. It terrorizes me when they do.
- It shows up when I remember that my kids’ relationship to fear is similar to mine and that they are likely to step into a van in the middle of the night, in a foreign country.
There is no fear more noble than another fear. I don’t think so, anyway. I also think that some fears are good for us, as they remind us of our limits and of what matters to us.
As we walk through life with them, we get to connect with a vulnerable part of us, a part that asks us to boost our Trust signal a little bit. Then if we dare, we can share our fears with the people we love, and raise our intimacy level in the process.
Where do YOUR fears like to dance?
And are you willing to share them with the people you trust?
Today, I invite you to take a moment and write down a list of your main fears. And then, to look at each one of them and give it a little bit of love.