My husband and I watched a late night movie at home – ‘Into the Wild’. The performances were fantastic. So good in fact that I freaked out. Spoiler alert: the last scenes are a close up look of the main character dying alone.
The movie ended and we switched off the lights in our bedroom. Steve fell quickly asleep. I was left shaking with fear and anxiety. I couldn’t understand why I was so bothered until I noticed that my mind was juggling images from the end of the movie with my images of hospitals. So many hospitals. Quietly in the background, my mind connected the pieces.
I reconnected with an intimately familiar, paralyzing fear of dying. I’m not afraid of death; I’m afraid of leaving everyone that I love. As I type this tears are welling up. My dark bedroom, normally comforting, suddenly reminds of the dark in my hospital room at night. I’m afraid of the night and of sleep. So many nights spent fighting sleep, followed by fighting the same recurring nightmare of death pursuing me. The dark room frightens me because what if I never see morning?
I’m restless and sick to my stomach. I want to run away from these unwelcome feelings. And yet, I actually lived it when there was no escape or distraction or comfort. I lived through the lonely and terrifying darkness. I lived through……this is what I must hang on to. I lived through as my fears and nightmares played out. I lived through the monsters stalking and terrorizing me. I lived through when the fears were my reality.
I can be at peace with my fears now because they’re only tricks of the mind and emotions. I can look squarely in the face of those fears and smile, because I already know…I LIVE.
We all have fears big and small. Perhaps the key to living in peace is to look squarely and bravely at our fears. Are the ‘monsters’ actually real? Or are they a trick of mind and emotions that we allow to play on us? I choose to live with the courage to look my fears in the face. As I do, the monsters shrink and fade away. And I smile.