Dancing with Fear

A wise woman reminded me today that Ada witnessing my process is part of her journey and I can stop feeling guilty about it. Of course Abraham would say feeling guilty is better than feeling fear. I don’t want either of them.

There’s a story in Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart about a young warrior whose teacher told her she had to battle fear. She didn’t want to, but the day dawned and there she was, looking at fear on the other side of the battlefield, totally intimidated.

The young warrior roused herself and went toward fear, prostrated three times, and asked, “May I have permission to go into battle with you?” Fear said, “Thank you for showing me so much respect that you ask permission.” Then the young warrior said, “How can I defeat you?” Fear replied, “My weapons are that I talk fast, and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved and you do whatever I say. If you don’t do what I tell you, I have no power. You can listen to me, and you can have respect for me. You can even be convinced by me. But if you don’t do what I say, I have no power.” In that way, the student warrior learned how to defeat fear. (p. 41-42)

Another wise woman mentioned several months ago that fear is tricky. Sometimes it uses us against ourselves and we get wrapped tightly into a knot of paralysis. I am working to accept that this fear is part of my reality right now, part of my grief process. The resistance to it, the not-wanting of it makes it worse. I am challenged to really love the parts of myself I want to change. I am realizing that I give good talk, my lip service is excellent, but that acceptance is often beyond my reach. This is part of my lesson, part of what needs to happen in order for me to heal, to believe that I do deserve what I have – a solid marriage, a live child, a healthy body – not some tragedy.

The calendar above my kitchen sink has a message for me every day, written in brightly colored inks. Today’s is Dance with your Shadow. I could, if the sun decided to shine, go outside and invite my shadow to our daily dance party. I could also stay right here, deep inside, and sway slowly with those dark parts of myself I find hard to embrace. I could turn on some rockin’ tunes and boogie down with my cluttered self, leaving judgment behind. Maybe I’ll even bring out my jazz hands and tap shoes, long ago put on a high shelf, and Bob Fosse my way to self-love. Maybe that’s how I defeat fear – my warrior-self needs to remember how to dance.

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