Walking Through Fear...Literally.
Well I survived. And so did all the crazed Halloween people who jumped out at me! With no police involvement I might add.
I went last night with an intention...to show up and not allow my past traumas to turn me into someone I didn’t like. It was a smashing success. I didn’t act like an asshole one time! My daughter and her friends had a great time and thanked me more than seemed likely or possible from teenagers.
A special thanks for Tony and Elizabeth who braved this expensive and long night. I am not sure what demons they were haunting, but I appreciated their company as we rode coasters until after midnight.
What I learned last night is not something new, so perhaps I just got a deeper lesson on something that I already know...that everything in your life can help you heal or break you more. It is really up to you.
I could have avoided last night. I could have said no. I could have sat in my car and read, wrote and slept. I could have done a lot of things besides go to a place that scared me. I did scream out loud several times but instead of it being a dissociative blip on my nervous system’s radar, I was there for it. I felt it in my body, I felt my heart rate increase, the jumpy tingling feeling in my body for probably long after. Instead of avoiding it altogether or shutting it down, I just allowed it to be there. All of it. All the feels. And you know what it didn’t kill me, or even really upset me all that much. I could see that what was going on outside me was only marginally related to the reactions going on inside me.
And this for me is quantum growth. Seeing that my internal state is affected by my environment but that so much of what goes on inside me is really tethered to a past that is mine whether I like it or not. Whether I deal with it or not. Whether I choose to heal it or not. My body has stored trauma and the internal reactions that go on inside me a really messengers from my past that show me that there is more work to do...
The best thing that happened last night was that when it was time to leave, I texted my daughter telling her to rendezvous at the agreed upon point. I said “let’s go, I am done!” She read that to say that I was angry (which is a typical reaction when I am tired, spent and over stimulated). I was not. But watching her face, the fear and worry as she walked toward bloom into relief when she saw that I was ok. That I was not upset or suffering from a traumatic response to something that had nothing to do with her. Her face beamed and her shoulders returned to where shoulders should be.
Now I don’t feel great that my child had this reaction to me. But it is a warranted reaction. Sadly. But not last night. Last night I was present, available and happy. Somehow I pulled that off. I was not an asshole that was bogged down with too many feelings, overwhelmed by my environment and my inability to filter it all through and maintain a good attitude. Last night I set an intention and I am kind of proud of the fact that I nailed it.
The best part of the evening was my daughter telling me several times, in somewhat disbelief, that she was worried that I was mad and me smiling at her and hugging her and telling her, “No way! I had fun!” The relief that came over her beautiful face was worth every single ounce of dread and discomfort I walked through yesterday. And dollars spent.
I can do hard things. I have learned that. And last night I learned that I can change my internal conditions, long standing habits, reactions and responses to something more like who I want to be instead of who I have always been. I never knew how traumatized my nervous system was until I began to write. Writing gave me access to parts of me that remained a mystery to me. Writing gave me courage to face the past and all its remnants that live on in my body.
I walked through fear and trauma last night into a new way of being. I am not sure that I will be able to do it again today, but I am going to try because everyday there is something that happens in my life that causes me to want to close off, shut down, anger. And everyday I can choose to allow the circumstances of my life to show me where those places are and try my best to do them differently. I may not always nail it like I did last night, but I can remain committed to healing by staying present and compassionate to myself and those about me...even deranged demons running through theme parks...who knew?