Last week I read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir “Wild: From Lost to Found in the Pacific Crest Trail.” Not to sound cliche but this book is a must read as it is not only beautifully written with layers of raw honesty, courage and strength. Yes I believe I stayed up a couple of nights reading it.
On the book Cheryl shared how through her Pacific Crest Trail journey she walked through her grief, sadness, pain over her mother’s loss. In the process she found herself.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in a patch of grief, sadness and fear. This is not surprising as life is not always a pink cloud full of rainbows, butterflies and unicorns. I spend decades avoiding feeling feelings so it is bound to catch up with me.
Yet when the grief popped up, I found myself in a place of shame. Why me? Why now? The answers are simple I am a regular human being who is now safe enough full of healthy coping tools to manage these feelings.
I had to learn to embrace the feelings of sadness as a waves that I could no longer fight. My job was to allow them to sift through my body. I had to release the shame around the grief, the anger and sadness. This is part of the process and it is ok to feel it.
As I read this book, I was inspired by the power of grief. The depths that we take to avoid feeling it only to find yourself on a trek towards it head on if you want to live. It’s not always easy yet the process is simple follow the trail, feel the feelings, keep your head focus on the step in front of you.
The beauty of grief is that as I feel it more and more the intensity does pass. On the other side, I found myself in a new space of love and appreciation to my family. I can now accept the love that they unconditionally are willing to give me. I have embrace them as my teachers who have guided me through a life that is perfect for me.
Fear is born out a Story
Going back to the quote above, Cheryl sums up what fear is which is born out of a story we tell ourselves. It right-size the fear monster back into it’s place and restores the power we have around fear. We can change the story.
Unlike pain, sadness and grief which are feelings that are inevitable, being paralyzed in fear is optional.
We all have fears, they serves us as protection, coping mechanisms that hopefully keeps up hurting ourselves. The reality is that sometimes fears are actually the culprit of what is hurting us.
When I was living in the depths of bulimia, it was the fear of getting fat that was slowly killing me. It was the fear of not being like that kept me in codependent patterns of people pleasing and self-flagellation. I can clearly see the story, I was protecting myself from getting hurt.
As I recovered, I learned to surrender these stories because they no longer serve me nor define who I am. As I surrendered, the power that fear that had over me diminished.
Facing Fears Head On – Today
Long story short, feeling grief along with being in this new space in my life has brought on a new set of fears. They each triggered old coping mechanisms such as deprivation, perfectionism, and stubbornness. There have been moments where I can feel the paralysis.
For today, I choose not to focus on the fear itself but the story that it was born onto. I choose to re-write the story and to trust that I have courage and strength to walk through it with dignity and grace.
Questions for you! What are your favorite books that inspired you to take action? When it comes to memoirs do you have any specific genre that you go for?
OFFLINE DISCUSSION: If you are interested in being part of a Fear “Detox” group, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. The purpose would be to look at your fear story head on and identify a way through it. No strings attached/nor sales stuff.