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Life After Paralysis is a blog that represents a variety of paralysis community members. It is a place for open conversation about the issues and the interests of people living with paralysis, their family, friends, caregivers, and the professionals that serve them. Comments are welcome!
 
The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

What Is Fear?

Fear is a funny thing, not Ha, Ha funny. It’s more I’m freaking out and I’m going to laugh at inappropriate moments, funny, because I’m so scared I’m acting out with bizarre behavior, funny. When I’ve been sucked into fear, I’ve lost my conscious mind and I'm spiraling in whirling mind suck eddies unable to transcend into the kind of mind that makes decisions that have awe-inspiring outcomes, I feel isolated, contracted, alone.
 
At that moment of tilt-a-whirl fear unconscious destructive behaviors can hook in. I descend into watching hours of mindless television, thoughtless eating sitting in front of an open refrigerator door, no exercising and staring out the window believing I’m thinking when really I’m just fretting and sleeping begins to escape me. Sometimes my fears get the best of me until something happens to pressure me to face my fear. I know something’s up and I better paddle hard for the shore of my befriending fear practices.
 
Recently, I’ve made the move from Truckee, population 14,000 to Los Angeles, populations millions. I’m renting a room from my family while I look for my own pad. I am not having any success finding a wheelchair accessible pad. What I mean by accessible is no steps, in, out or otherwise and a bathroom I can use, fully. Fear is slipping into my mind that I won’t find a place to live. And this thinking is morphing in to, a thought; there is no place for me. I know this thinking is the result of a resurfacing of old stories written on pages turned long ago, that read, “there’s no place that I fit.” We all have unconscious stuff we have to deal with over and over and this one; “I’m not included” is in my opus.
 
10c268b581f2dfc5fc54b48fd7c767c6-huge-miDuring the 40 years I’ve had a spinal cord injury, thoughts and real life experiences have demonstrated to me I’m not included because I use a wheelchair. Buildings, sidewalks, policies, attitudes, you name it, each one has left it’s make. Now over the years I’ve come to recognize this “stuff”
before much, if any, real damage is done by destructive behavior described up above. Oh, yes it can get much worse, but I’m more in the green than the red zone on that count, because I have tools or what I like to call “practices” to serve me up and onward rather then downward.
 
So, the deal is how we deal, right? Before I can cause any harm, I deal by following my practice to take action consciously, rather than unconsciously. When I hear “the stuff” shifting and moving in me before I freak out gives me hope, some peace and actions to take, man do I feel powerful. My fear fixing toolbox of practices catch me and guide me in making peace with "what is" in my life.
 
Catching myself in the “act” of fear I can authentically execute from a place of recognition of my feelings and emotions, without judgment. I don’t have to act on those distractive feelings. I can recognize, pause and listen to my intuition that tells me, always tells me to breathe. Then taking three deep controlled breaths begins moving me from a beta brain state, a super active state, to an alpha brain state, relaxed and focused. The alpha state relaxes me so I can pause, feel the feelings and choose my next act and not just react.  
 
For 10 years I was a sponsored athlete with the outerwear clothing company, Mountain Hardwear. Pretty much every other athlete sponsored by this company was an Alpinist. You know the “Big Mountain” climbers, like Himalayas, 8000-meter peak mountain climbers. Our disciplines were so very different but we had a commonality we were all focused, intense athletes. Our job, in exchange for gear and financial support, was to attend retail shows, outdoor events, write stories for the catalogs and present slide shows of our adventures. 
 
This culture of Alpinists was strange and intrigued me to no end so I took every opportunity I had to converse with my teammates about what propels them to climb those mountains. Peter Whittaker, of Whittaker Mountaineering the largest guide service in the US, and I chitchatted about how we push our envelopes beyond what we thought was possible. When I asked Peter how he pushes past fear, he looked at me and said “Fear is only the imagined future, Candace, I focus on what is and go from there.”
 
a9ea944a1907f66b88a6e26077b759c3-huge-scHis words of wisdom have stuck with me when fear has me spiraling down the imagined future rabbit hole, well, OK, most of the time. I’m not fully there yet but I’m getting better at focusing on “what is” the issue, the foundation of my fear and shifting into my breathing practice for clarity. I know there’s place for me to live in Los Angeles as well as this big, wide beautiful world. I won’t let a little fear stop me from finding it and knowing I am fully aware that I’m home.

Sweet Dreams, and Blessings to All!!!
In Joy, Candace

© 2016 Candace Cable | Like Candace on Facebook | Follow Candace on Twitter
 
Posted by Candace on Feb 2, 2016 2:21 AM America/New_York

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