Fear – the neighbour that just won’t go away
I’ve been thinking in metaphors lately – perhaps because I’m reading some autoethnographies that seem to describe experiences using metaphors.
As I read through and tag / analyze blog posts from August 2014 – during my last round of AC chemo – I’m struck by how few of them talk about fear. I remember trying to be brutally honest in my posts, and yet, I don’t seem to hear (feel) the fear when I read them. Then I think, perhaps that is because fear – my neighbour – was on vacation for a bit.
When I was first diagnosed, fear had definitely moved in with me. Fear was the neighbour that just wouldn’t go away – waking you in the night with loud thoughts – and interrupting your concentration.
In August, three months after diagnosis, but in very active treatment – fear went on vacation. It didn’t go away completely. It called now and again to get an update on how things were going.
After active treatment, fear moved back in. Getting closer and closer until it was almost debilitating. Fear was the neighbour who moved in to my house but also decided to share my bedroom. It just wouldn’t go away.
Then, with some coaching (and serious cognitive behaviour therapy), I learned to kick the neighbour out. Now, fear didn’t move very far away. As annoying as fear was, it was still helpful at time. Fear, my neighbour, highlighted when I was overtired or when I really did need to follow up with my doctor. Fear served a purpose.
Fear was next door, but over time, fear moved a few more doors down. However, fear didn’t fully move away. Every now and again, fear crosses my path – going out to the car, getting the mail (or with every new ache or pain). Fear waves it hand and smiles, and as a Canadian, I do the polite thing and smile and wave back, as if fear wasn’t the neighbour from hell.
I can be brave, I can stand up to this neighbour, but there is little hope that it will move away completely.
Feature image CC0 (public domain via Maxpixel).
Paying attention to fear is really tough to do. It seems irrational and sucks your power of reason away leaving a raw vulnerability behind. That said, the irrationality reveals that fear may be not of the moment but a release of previous tensions. My anxiety started months after the trauma of treatments that didn’t work, being belittled for claiming something was wrong and then scolded for letting my condition worsen and without warning find I had only a few months to live.
No safe place to be, no reliable fall-back, just random chance pretending to be something that’s there for you. To me now, fear is my friend. It warns me not to feel safe and comfortable. I suppose that’s sad, though I don’t feel that way.