sabbatical reflections: fear

one of the biggest things that happened for me while away was getting to work with my fear!

i remember it was a few days before heading out when i had the thought… “omg i’m going to be there at night.” i don’t know how it hadn’t occurred to me until less than a week away that i was also going to be there in the dark!

now, i worked through my fear of the dark (inherited at least from my mom, if not other parts of my lineage) a few years ago when i had a solo late night conversation in upstate ny with a fire after everyone else i was with one weekend had gone to bed.

this maine time was a very different scene. i was in the woods, “by myself” (as explained here) in a very forested area with little knowledge of the animals around. of course, many folks have done this residency and no one has had any issues that i know of. but that doesn’t shift my body’s experience. walking in the woods alone, far enough from anyone that even if SOS i blew my emergency whistle, it could take 30-45 minutes for someone to come find me… being in a context like that was new and definitely scary to imagine an animal attacking and then being far from help. yikes!

what work did i get to with my fear while on sabbatical?

when i think about the big picture, it was pretty beautiful work. the way it came about was utter terror, though. there were multiple nights where i would have a distant or close encounter with an animal. sometimes i could tell who it was and sometimes i couldn’t. in either case, my body would have the full on fear response. you know like when a cat arches her back and all her hair stands on end? well… it me.

this happened night after night after night.

sometimes i would go down to pee at night and do a quick sweep through the woods before i started to pee. and sometimes during my scan, i would catch 1 or 2 pairs of eyes just staring back at me. terr. if. fye. ing.

and, that was the beauty. because i had to practice with it repeatedly, i got to learn how to be with the fear and move forward anyways. like… after a night canoe across the pond in the dark, i had to walk from the beach up to my yurt. and that repeated journey gave me more direct practice with my fear/terrot than maybe i’ve ever had. and now on the other side of it, i feel like i have a new level of awareness of and capacity to move with my fear. the fear is still there.

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words / writing / post-processing
237w / 12 min / 5min (note this is only for the 2nd half of this blog post, the first half i forgot to track)