Just Cuz You Couldn’t, Doesn’t Mean You Can’t

    a.278w frightenedWorking through your fear, particularly that which is SNOG-induced (or the product of an active imagination) is like pulling dried tar off your skin. You don’t know how you’ll survive the pain … and yet you keep peeling it off because all that dark sticky and dried tar is smothering you. You’re tired of being smothered. You’re tired of your skin not breathing. Of you not breathing. You’ve finally had enough and you’re going to do what it takes to get through that fear.

    Yuk and Yikes. Not fun at all. True. But neither is being imprisoned/held captive by fears which pretty much exist only in your mind.

    Here’s a Tana Tale for you. I’ve got this vertigo/don’t-care-for-heights thing happening. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere and broadsides me. Most times I see it coming and while I prepare for battle and step forward to fight it, it gets the upper hand. And once in a great while, I get the upper hand.

    There’s a short railroad bridge over a water runoff near the ocean in Ventura, California. I often walk the promenade which follows the ocean, loops around the county fairgrounds, and crosses the railroad tracks perpendicularly. That means I always cross the railroad tracks, but not the bridge.

    Even though the bridge wasn’t high, my attempts to cross were unsuccessful. After a few steps I’d panic. The bridge wasn’t solid. There were gaps between the wooden slats and open grates on either side.

    The other day was no exception. What was different was, rather than continue on with my walk after retracing my steps to solid ground, I stood there. Just staring at the bridge. A couple bicyclists zipped by. A pedestrian meandered across. The SNOG-cacophony in my head blared.

    a.279w crossing bridge“You should be able to do this, if you just make up your mind.”
    “You need to get over your irrational fear and just do it!”
    “This is ridiculous, at your age, you ought to be able to do this.”
    “You gotta get over yourself and cross the beepin’ bridge.”

    The more the SNOGs laid into me, the worse I felt. I continued standing for a
    long…
    …Long
    … …LONG time, until I noticed the SNOGs fading away. In their stead came the image of climbing the canyon.

    I didn’t make it to the top of the canyon that day, but I made it a lot further than I would have had I not tried. I climbed that canyon because I WANTED to see, for myself — with my own eyes — the view from the top. I looked at that bridge and realized I wanted the feeling of accomplishment of having crossed it. That’s when I noticed there were solid pieces of wood bolted to the slats on either side of the actual train rails. And while there was still open space beneath me, my feet were actually on something solid (albeit precariously because of the distance between the bolts and the size of my feet.)

    I began with a step. Legs quickly left and were replaced by jello, which was then replaced by soggy noodles. My body went into self-cleaning mode drenching me in sweat. My heart’s thumps were so powerful I feared they’d knock me down. My breathing so shallow I became lightheaded. Although certain I’d pass out (assuming my noodle legs didn’t dissolve first), I kept putting one foot in front of the other. First left, then right.

    By the time I thought I couldn’t take another step forward and wanted to turn around, I was closer to the other side. I stopped. Breathed. Breathed again. Continued.

    Step. Breath. Step. Breath.

    s.02w crossed bridgeWith my first step on solid ground, I sank. I also looked back in wonder. I’d crossed that little bridge. I truly was on the other side. (Deciding that was enough excitement for one day, I took the long way back, which led to other marvelous adventures and encounters.)

    My takeaway from this was the SNOGs — which come from the Mind — kept issuing orders. Trying to push me. Shame me. The more the SNOGs issued their orders, the less inclined I was to comply. The Heart quietly, gently, expressed a desire. Then backed away. Lesson learned.

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    Kern Windwraith - November 12, 2014 - 9:13 pm

    I’m so impressed, Tana. Such a tough thing to do, finding that silence within ourselves that allows us to get away from the weeping/wailing/teeth-gnashing/chest-beating tales of woe and doom that our SNOGS are so talented at relating. My staff and I work with a counsellor who always reminds us that until we’ve calmed our (or our clients’) emotional brain, there’s no hope of reaching the rational brain. So very true.

    Love the graphics in this post, too–as always.

    Sheila Bergquist - November 12, 2014 - 11:50 pm

    YAY Tana!!!! By now you know I have serious anxiety issues, so I can totally relate to how hard that was. I am so proud for you for doing this. It took real determination and courage.

    Tana Bevan - November 15, 2014 - 9:13 pm

    Kern~I do find the Monkey Chatter keeps the mind busy. Between that and the SNOGs, well, it’s rather hard to focus. Exploring the idea of seeing with the heart is so intriguing, particularly now that I’ve crossed paths with a person who does just that … and has had and continues to have a wonderful life. Always great hearing from you. Good luck with NaNoWriMo!

    Tana Bevan - November 15, 2014 - 9:14 pm

    Thank you Sheila. For years I’ve understood so much of this has been in my own mind, and yet it seemed to incredibly real. It was nice to have won that particular skirmish. Wishing you success in your personal battles as well. :-)

    Shelley Sackier - November 16, 2014 - 1:04 pm

    I love Kern’s comment about finding the silence. That is a journey that I believe becomes more and more challenging for many of us as we grow accustomed to the onslaught of daily noise. We’re swimming in a constant flow of stimuli, and locating that still center of muted activity allows us to finally focus.
    Your challenge required some serious courage, Tana, and I’m sure you must be feeling ten feet tall for conquering that mountain. Well done. You go, girl!

    Tana Bevan - November 17, 2014 - 3:27 pm

    Shelley~What’s that saying, “Silence can be deafening”? As in it speaks volumes. I call years ago reading an article about a man traveling the world with recording equipment, recording various sounds of silence since they were becoming extinct. There’s an art to being comfortable in silence, both when alone and in the company of others. Perhaps that comfortableness comes from being centered in your self. As I’ve not achieved that yet, I know not.

    I do know the silence and stillness experienced at 4,000 feet, in a hot air balloon, when the gas was turned off, and the balloon simply drifted, silently, following the Southern California Coast as the sun set is a cherished memory. Perhaps that’s what silence is all about? With the silence comes a stillness, and with the stillness comes … whatever comes after stillness. Obviously a bit of mind tripping going on. Still, it’s an interesting idea. As always, it’s lovely hearing from you.