There are two things I am most fearful of:
1. Heights and
2. Dealing with people who have hurt me (or my family) in the past.
This past weekend, my husband Scott and I traveled to Chicago to celebrate my youngest step-son's graduation from Navy bootcamp.
I was really excited to see a little glimpse of Fall, do some site seeing and to feel cool weather.
Scott really wanted to go up to the Willis Tower to the SkyDeck which is 1400 (!) feet up in the air. There is a plexi-glass partition that sticks about 4 feet away from the building. It gives the illusion of being able to stand mid-air.
I didn't want to do it.
I could feel that creeping feeling of anxiety whenever I am near a high place. Strangely, I always feel it in my forearms first.
But Scott was excited and really wanted us to have our picture taken on the ledge. So I pulled myself together and swore to myself that I didn't have to look down. My husband had to gently pull me onto that ledge.
I was trembling. Luckily, the whole thing only lasted a few seconds. They snapped a picture and I practically levitated getting off that platform.
It was totally scary but I'm glad I did. And so happy that I had my husband to encourage me.
Sometime encouragement comes in the form of our loved ones, a kind stranger or a divine occurrence as you'll see below.
So, I was able to deal with that scary moment, only to have to face another.
I totally dreaded having to interact with my husband's ex-wife.
My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years, are a blended family and it totally has not been the "Brady Bunch" or anything approximating it.
Most of the years were really challenging and fraught with frustration, betrayal, misunderstanding and if I'm honest, a whole lot of petty foolishness- on all of our parts.
If you are in a similar type of relationship, you know exactly what I am talking about.
It's much easier to steer clear of any situations that might make us feel uncomfortable.
And as much as I enjoy staying comfortable, I know that it's not always possible or practical.
Sometimes we have to force ourselves into scary or difficult situations for our own benefit.
I believe difficult situations come up for us whenever we need to learn something.
Now, these "learning" situations may repeat themselves as they did for me, until we finally "get it". And that's ok.
Finally getting the learning is what is key to changing everything.
As an introvert, I'm prone to introspection. I'm always thinking about how to improve myself, to work on neutralizing the things that trigger my emotions so that I get the clarity I need to feel better.
But I also know that we're emotional human beings that can't parse our feelings into logical boxes.
I've learned to acknowledge how I feel and honor my emotions because emotions help me plug back into life.
Emotions are what connect us all and are the palpable undercurrent running underneath and throughout our stories.
Back to the ex.
I felt straight up dread at the thought of having to interact with her.
And I could justify this feeling with a looong list of all the wrongs. Couldn't we all? Wasn't this a perfect excuse to pull a card from my mental rolodex and opt out of everything?
So I let myself feel dread. I complained and griped. I asked my husband to be patient with me (and he was).
And then an amazing thing happened.
While we were sitting on the plane, I noticed the couple sitting in front of us. The woman looked remarkably like a much younger version of Scott's ex-wife. I watched her as she tended to her young son, listened as she comforted him before we took off, assuring him how fun it would be to see the clouds once up in the air.
And instead of feeling dread, I felt compassion.
Instead of seeing an ogre, I saw a mother who loved her son. A young mother who happened to resemble the person I did not want to deal with.
And so, to my surprise and relief my heart softened and my anxiety abated.
When I did see the ex- it was fine. Awkward, but totally fine. The afternoon went by without incident and we all enjoyed spending time with my step-son Josh.
Me, Josh and Scott
I had created this story in my mind filled with confrontation and was prepared to walk away in a huff. All of that melted away once I received some clarity.
I don't believe seeing that woman on the plane was an accident.
I think she was put there for me to see, really see what reality was and to release my discomfort.
Over to you. What fear have you faced or are facing? How can you change that part of your story in a way that empowers you instead of limits you? Hit reply and let me know. I love reading your emails!
Yours in story,
What I'm up to:
Christian Marie Herron, is Story Mentor and Creative Consultant for entrepreneurs, thinkers and creatives.