We’ve probably all been there.
Your life is perking along. You’re feeling “normal” – perhaps you even think your life is “good.”
And then something unexpected tilts your world.
It might be a death, or something health-related, or someone tells you something that changes everything.
And suddenly all that seemed “normal” five minutes ago looks different.
The light seems brighter – and dimmer, somehow – all at once. Your route home looks different, feels different somehow, though it’s the same route you’ve driven hundreds or even thousands of times.
You feel kind of out of body – neither here nor not here.
You’re sure that the world has changed in some profound way, but you can’t identify quite what that change is.
* * * * * * *
I felt this tilt five years ago when I got my breast cancer diagnosis, and I had it to a lesser extent when I found out last year that I had squamous cell skin cancer.
And this year it was this past Friday (also in September like those previous two) that tilted my world. A gynecological problem prompted my primary care physician to set up an ultrasound for me on Monday.
Because I had breast cancer five years ago, I always have an underlying awareness that cancer can return.
And I wondered yesterday . . . is that what this new problem is indicating?? Cancer again??
I immediately went into FEAR mode.
My fear: Do I have cancer in another part of my body?
My world tilts when I consider this question.
I feel overwhelmed.
But I’ve learned over the years not to run from fear, not to try to avoid it. That what I resist persists.
I’ve learned that I should let myself feel it.
Feel where the fear is in my body. To breathe into it.
And to welcome it.
That seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?
Through centering prayer retreats, I have learned the Welcoming Prayer. I mostly remember to use it when I’m scared, but it’s helpful for any emotion. (Click here for a good article describing the whole process and its intention).
The main point is that this prayer helps us be present with what we’re feeling at the moment we’re feeling it.
So for me, now, it’s a time to welcome fear.
Welcome, Fear, welcome. I feel you centered under my breastbone and radiating out to other parts of my upper body, up into my throat, and out into my shoulders and arms and hands. You make me want to contract, to draw in and protect myself. You make my heart beat faster, my breathing speed up. You sometimes wake me from deep sleep, my body tense, ready to flee. You also make me sleepy, make want to go to bed and sleep to avoid your effects.
I feel you, and my world looks different, looks weird.
I feel you and my thoughts go to the worst-case scenario.
I feel you, and I feel alone.
I feel you, and I wonder if I can go through cancer again.
I’ve felt you in different ways this weekend. Sometimes you’re a great sadness, and I want to cry. Sometimes I feel myself clenching my teeth, trying to ignore you.
And sometimes I don’t know what I feel or where I feel it!
Welcome, Fear, welcome.
And also . . . Welcome, Light, welcome.
I let go of my desire for safety and security, affection and esteem, power and control. I let go of the desire to change this feeling of fear.
God (Universe, Source, Light, Creator), I give you my fear.
* * * * * * *
But I don’t stop with the Welcoming Prayer.
I also ask for help.
Friday I went to my computer (after taking with my sister on the phone) and asked for prayers and good energy from my Facebook friends. I emailed some of my non-Facebook friends, requesting the same thing.
I asked for help. Energetic, prayerful help from friends.
Because I know we’re all connected.
And that everyone out there has experienced fear.
We’ve all been vulnerable.
We all ARE vulnerable.
So Welcome, Fear, Welcome.
What I have is now.
What I also have now is support from others.
There is no good or bad. There just is.
Welcome, Fear. Welcome, Light.
5 thoughts on “A little post about welcoming fear”
You have been blessed with putting feelings into words!
I have felt all you have described! When I first heard that I had breast cancer, my initial thought was stop, which I finally verbalized to the doctor. Please stop because I can’t process. Get my family, they’ll help me process. Surrounded my my husband and 11 year old daughter, we went through the cancer journey. I could never fully describe my feelings, but you’ve nailed it! Thank you for sharing!
Thank you for the affirmation. I really tried in this post to put into words what it’s like. And I felt I wasn’t the only one.
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Loved this so much…thank you! I too have been blessed and ‘settled’ and tuned in by centering prayer and other mindfulness practices. Your blogs are a gift…just started poking around here a bit. I recently started blogging myself and am finding it a balm. Blessing to you!
Thank you for your kind words, Teresa. Mindfulness makes such a difference in the quality of my life. Blogging can indeed be a balm, and I hope you find much of that in your blogging. Blessing to you as well.