I don’t have a sixth sense that intuitively detects danger; mine verges on paranoia that senses imminent catastrophe at any time. My anxiety used to be worst, and I now have many tools to use when panic hits. I understand that just because I feel something doesn’t make it real; feelings aren’t fact. That gut feeling, the intuition that might alert a normal person that something is not right, is broken in me.
When Dreamer and Fearless were babies I was afraid they were going to die. I’ve spoken to many new moms and we all have this fear. Show me one parent who never got up in the middle of the night to check if their newborn was breathing, and I will show you a parent lying. My paranoia took it one step further. I would imagine my baby falling down from the balcony; I would have horrible, tragic flashes of something awful happening to my kids, and it took a major conscious effort to let go of those.
The toddler years brought a different array of fears such as choking or drinking poison. Like me, most parents baby proofed their houses. But my anxiety would take this fear one step further: what if we were driving over the bridge (the one I drove on a daily basis since I live on an island), and our car plunged into the ocean?
I have overcome those fears too opening space for new ones. My friend sent me this and it couldn’t describe me better.
It’s not that I live in constant fear, but there is a current of it that flows within me and is really easy to tap into. Thankfully, as long as I am far away from heights, I’ve been able to shield my kids from it. Somehow, my boys are confident, happy, healthy, and seemingly well adjusted.
They are still in elementary school and we all have much more living and fear mutations to work though. Whereas before my worry focused on: “what if something happens to my children;” it now spread to what happens to them if something happens to me? This is where my fear of cycling goes on a rampage.
It’s odd because I love to be out on my bike but I also hate it. There are many times I quit in my head. Not because of cycling, or because it is too hard, too hot, or too long; but because the process of getting out the door is so difficult.
As my IronMan draws near my training plan calls for multiple rides over 100 miles.
The night before a long ride I start looking at my children differently. It’s as if I see them through one of those pre-set Instagram filters making them more magical, as if I was watching a movie. I make sure we all go to bed with happy thoughts and happy memories, and I leave a note by the coffee telling everyone how much I really love them. In my mind, it’s a “just in case Mami dies, know she loves you” kind of note.
Joe sees right through me and doesn’t give my anxiety any attention. I love him so very much for that.
Leaving the door I have a sense of impending doom, and if someone says “be safe” I immediately think it’s a jinx. I am a very conservative rider, and on the few streets where I am near a car I pray most of the way. And then I thank God profusely for getting me home.
So it was interesting to me when a non-mommy cycling friend was anxious about something she was going to do. She jokingly told me she was living in my universe for a week and that it was miserable. It was over-emotional, full of self-doubt, and fear.
Is that really what my world seems like to an outsider? I guess if most of the time you talk to me is on a bicycle then yes, you probably think that is all of who I am, and that it’s a pretty miserable existence.
But that is not how I see it.
In the words of Janis Joplin “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” I guess I could be free of my fears … but then I would need to be free of my gifts. And my family, my kids bring me more joy and happiness than I ever thought I could have. Living without them would certainly be a simpler, less troublesome, an easier life I guess. But it’s not the one I want.
Sometimes when you share your inner thoughts, the person listening, or you reading this, make all kinds of assumptions about the speaker. But truth is that yes, I struggle with fear, but no, it doesn’t consume life. What it does mean is that when someone tells me “oh, just trust your gut on this one,” I reply …. “or not!”