Thursday, August 25, 2011

Facing up to Fears

 Edited to add: Check out this awesome post on fear that Ashley from Nourishing the Soul linked to on Facebook (and if you haven't liked her FB, definitely do! Ashley is chock full of good quotes and article links on there, and her blog is a great read as well).

Sometimes when we become afraid of something or someone, we avoid that thing, activity or person like the plague. Trust me on this--I'm a Capital-A-Avoider. If something sucks, I pretend it doesn't exist. This policy is nice when it's stuff I can't really control and doesn't impact my life on a daily level. However, I've learned this policy is pretty terrible way to deal with things like I-Pass violation fees, library fines and seemingly every other service on Earth that charges a fine. The funny thing about fines is that avoidance leads to them--and of course makes them worse. My avoidance of running to the library to return books or to pay that toll fine "I didn't deserve" (Yes, I had an electronic I-Pass with me that didn't function and wasn't mine--hence finding out I had huge, huge fines months later) cause more harm than good.

But what about the stuff that isn't fines? What about my health? What about my happiness? If I tell myself I'm healthy and happy when these questions arise in my mind and leave it at that, I can do that avoidance thing and pretend like that's the truth. And maybe I really think it's the truth, just because I haven't thought about it.

The night before last I went out for a smoke (yeah, that health thing!) and when I came back in, I heard a loud buzzing noise seemingly coming from my hair. I started swatting at it, thinking some sort of huge beetle had somehow followed me in from outside. All the sudden, I feel a sting in the tender flesh of the inside of my upper arm, and I see a huge bee angrily flying all around me. My heart starts beating really hard, my chest tightens, and I barely make it to the bathroom whimpering in fear. I am very, very afraid of bees, and have never in my life been stung (ok, except for a tiny sweat bee when I was 5 years old). At that point in the bathroom, I had convinced myself it was some weird non-dying bee, no! Even worse! It was a hornet, or it was a bee but the stinger hadn't really gotten all the way in me, or...or...or....I hyperventilated. I could still hear the damn thing buzzing outside my bathroom door. I held a towel in my hand and watched the cracks and creases around the door, waiting for it to intrude.

Finally, I worked up enough courage to sprint out of the bathroom, grab my keys and phone in one swoop, and ran outside crying. I called my mother (at about 3 AM her time) and apologized over and over, telling her there was a bee, it was flying everywhere, and it was in my apartment. She could barely understand me, but kept telling me it was probably already dead. A confirmatory peek inside led to mad buzzing afresh, to which I slammed the door and started sobbing again. Could I just pretend the bee wasn't inside? No. And apparently it was attempting to have Shakespearean-esque death throes.

After awhile, I got so sick of standing outside and crying about this stupid bee (and I felt silly too, with my mom on the phone half-asleep, encouraging me to just go in and ice my arm---"BUT I CANT!!! THERE;S A BEE INSIDE OF MY APARTMENT!!!!"). I finally went back inside, found it sitting on the floor (probably dying) and whacked it mercilessly with a towel once I'd buried it in a pile of towels. I carried the dead bee in a towel out to the trash and disposed of it...and good riddance.

Bee incident got me thinking. Sometimes the problems you need to face up to are things you don't ever worry about, rarely think about and don't necessarily recognize as problems. I certainly didn't expect a bee to follow me inside like that, especially at 5 AM. Bees are awake that early? Right? But once the bee had stung me and was buzzing around my apartment, I could no longer ignore it. I had to kill it or wait for it to die, and in my crazed fear it seemed like it was never going to die, anyways. But eventually, I'm standing outside realizing how silly the whole thing is, and I just have to stop avoiding the damn bee. I mean, I thought, the sting didn't hurt -that- bad. My imagination had built up something far beyond the actual pain I suffered--and don't we all do that? Become more afraid of our imaginings than what the reality of the situation usually is?

So with the rest of your day, I challenge you to go out and face your bees. I mean, don't go out and chase bees around--that's just silly and asking to get stung. But when you hear buzzing, ask yourself what it really is, and don't avoid it.

1 comment:

  1. and this is why I love Thursday posts. Something about the mixture of vulnerability, realness, and pertinence of this post.

    I think you know why I find this pertinent. You can ignore something and pretend it's not a problem... but eventually, if it's of importance, it'll manifest itself in some significant manner. Definitely something to work on.

    I know for myself I was avoiding seeing Laura for the longest... but you know what? We've known each other for so long now that going to see her after that rough session and abrupt break was not the travesty that I had built it up to be in my mind. at all.



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