I’m a good one to have around in a crisis. The systems of shock and flinch instilled in my body are, for some unknown reason, effortlessly time-delayed and easily tamped down. Thrown into the middle of any situation, I can check whatever emotional response I should be having and simply deal with the mechanics at hand. After the drama has passed, be that a near miss on the highway or a night in the ER, my body shakes, uncontrollably, but only for a few seconds. Whatever has been building up inside takes over for a few moments and I give into it. I thought this was fear. I labelled it fear.
Standing over the precipice of a controlled fall, a leap requiring technique, think parachute or bungee, a gymnastics bar release, I find another face of fear. Refusal. Not shaking or anxious. No voice screaming in my head or painting horrible scenes of what might go wrong. Simply, and silently a refusal to take one step forward, to do the deed.
How had I come this far in life never knowing that fear? How had I managed, and managed is the right word here, to only put myself in situations where I was willing to continue plodding forward tamped down and delayed. My brain has been playing a cunning game of chess for decades, thinking ten moves ahead. “Stay on the side roads.” – “No need to go to the doctor.” – “Children are more hassle than they are worth.”
It’s not that I haven’t risked. It’s that the risks have all been chips I’ve no problem losing. So I have run with my head. I have leapt on solid ground. I have considered and researched, planned and executed, a life of good and non-lethal challenges. And I have declared myself impervious to fear. Because in it’s vaccinated form I have used it to build up immunity.
So what do I do once I see it wriggling, and me unmoving?