Thursday, October 25, 2012

Fearless? No. Coping? More So...

From my art journal (October 2010)...

What scares you? Really frightens you to the core? 

For me, it’s not things that go bump in the night (so to speak). Rather, what I fear most are the unexpected events in life--those things over which I have no control; specifically as they relate to the health and well-being of loved ones. 

My fears first came to light about six years ago, during my youngest sister's hard-fought battle with cancer.  During that time, I wrote my first book, Eternal Presents: Accepting and Using the Precious, Intangible Gifts Others Give Us. My writing actually served to carry me through--somewhat became my crutch of bravery during those beyond-difficult months. 

In the book, I reference myself at a younger, braver, time (when I was in grade school).  I had written a story I wanted to have published in the school newspaper.  You see, being a “lowly” 9-year old, I worried the older students would never even consider reading my submission—much less publish it.  Without hesitation, I scheduled a meeting with the school’s principal to see if he couldn’t help me in my quest.  Turns out, after reading my story, he did.  That’s me below—posing next to the scarecrow that served as the centerpiece of my first published work (October 1971). 

During my sister’s illness, I never truly felt devoid of fear.  It honestly affected nearly every aspect of my day-to-day living. As I wrote about my younger, more-courageous fourth-grade self, I couldn’t help but to ask, “Where did that brave little girl go?” 

Those feelings of sheer fright haven’t lessened in the past six years.  Life’s experiences within this past month have unfortunately shown me this.  Losing loved ones and/or seeing them quite ill still brings about those same horrific sensations—which include my fear of having to accept loss, allowing myself to fully experience sadness, and accepting the fact that some things we have no control over.

My ability to better cope with my feelings has improved a bit, in recent years; thanks to journal writing, gratitude giving, affirmations, meditation and a host of other soothing techniques.  Striving to be more fully present in each, given moment has helped as well. These were all tools I either didn’t utilize or only sporadically engaged in during Karolanne’s illness in 2006.

On a brighter note, my dear sister, Karolanne, will celebrate six years of living cancer free in November.  And, on a lighter note: there is another thing that absolutely terrifies me...snakes (which some folks totally understand and others don’t). So, I either solicited a “Me, too!” or a giggle from you—depending on which camp you fall into. ;)

What scares you? Understanding that your fears may not entirely dissipate (regardless of how much you want them to), what strategies have you developed to better cope with them? 

Love and peace, T.