Passing On Our Fears

Clowns

Spiders

Sharks

Open water

Leeches

They are all the focus of horror movies (well, I’m not sure about the leeches one, but still…) and they are all the center of my nightmares. My kids know I hate clowns. They know, because I have had some sort of reaction around them when encountering one. Every year, our community has this big indoor trick or treat event. And every year, there are freaking clowns wandering around to eat greet our kids. And every time I see them coming, I make an NFL-worthy swerve and run. (I am not a sports person. I am sure there is a term for this kind of play.) While I have tried to not let my children see my fears getting the best of me, there are just times when I can’t avoid it.  But, I’ve tried really hard to not show them how much it impacts me.

Last month, I was down visiting my brother in Michigan. We all went out on his boat into Lake Michigan for a sunset cruise. It was breathtaking – the gorgeous colors of the sun reflecting off the water. They all jumped in. All of them but me. Because I was afraid of the water. I’m not the best swimmer and there’s just something about open water that gives me the heebie jeebies. Then, my brother told me I really should get in. And I started thinking about it. I was scared. Of what, exactly? My brother and nieces were all in the water. If I was really concerned that this was a dangerous situation, wouldn’t I be stepping up and saying something to protect them? No. I would not. Because my fear was exactly that, MY fear. And, I was letting it get the best of me. So, I took a baby step. I asked my brother to jump with me. And to hold my hand. I’m a 35-year-old woman. But, man, that really made the difference. We held hands, we neared the edge of the boat, we counted to three, (I had a floatie tube to hold on to. You gotta conquer your fears, but every little bit helps!) and we jumped. When I hit the water, I kept dropping down, down, down. And then, buoyancy kicked in and I started rising up, up, up. That process seemed to take a lot longer, and just about the time I thought I was never going to reach the surface, I finally did. I took a big gasp of air. My brother was saying something about the water being “magical.” I started doggy-paddling my way to the boat ladder while saying, “it’s. not. magical.” But, it kinda was. I wish I would have been able to get past my fears enough to stay in the water longer and enjoy the moment. But, I am now enjoying the memory of jumping. Of just doing it. Of pushing past my fears to make a choice to experience something in life. And that, that is what I want my kids to see and learn from me. Not to be afraid of clowns or sharks, but to push past those fears and not let fear be the master of your life.

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