Fears come in many forms and often try to interfere with our lives in a variety of ways. When you reflect on your own life, are you able to see any ways that fears have caused you some difficulties? Are you able to easily identify your fears? There are many types of fears such as fear of: heights, insects, snakes, dogs, storms, needles, small spaces, germs, flying, public speaking, the dark, intimacy, death, dying, failure, rejection, commitment, driving, being alone, water, abandonment, clowns, falling, change, and so many others. I am sure that we could list many fears that either we struggle with or someone that we know struggles with. When fears enter our thoughts and our lives then often these fears can interfere with our activities, our relationships, our decisions, and even our peace of mind. When we think of our own fears, it is important for us to be able to identify them, and it is helpful for us if we are able to see how they developed. These things will help us as we battle to overcome them.
Tragically, this past week we witnessed another school shooting massacre that occurred in Florida where 17 people were killed. 17 innocent people. Fear was surrounding and engulfing all of those who were present as they ran for safety, hid in fear, and prayed to live. As our emergency workers led groups out to safety, so many people had to see someone who was killed or severely injured. The trauma that all endured will have lasting effects that will need to be worked through. Parents were told that their child had died. Families were told that their parents died. Siblings lost siblings. Friends lost friends. A team lost one of their coaches as he bravely shielded students from the gunman. It never should have happened. We want to know why this happened. The fear that everyone involved was feeling was real. Heartbreakingly, this fear will continue to plague the survivors as they battle to overcome this traumatic and awful massacre.
I remember after the shootings in Las Vegas, and some people that I know that live there were describing to me how anything that sounded like gunshots had them immediately feeling so much fear. They said that these fears were so strong even though they could identify what the sounds actually were. I watched the fear on my daughter’s face and in her eyes as she listened to the news on the day of the Florida school shootings. Countless students, teachers, families, and administrators feel that same fear. How I wish that would not be in our childrens’ hearts and minds as they go to school each day. It is beyond tragic.
As people, we are all so different. What might bring fear to one person may not bring any fear to another. After my husband died in a work related accident in August 2011 and my only 18 year old son was instantly killed in a car accident in June 2013, then my daughters and I have battled a lot of fears. We continue to work on it to this day.The following fears are a few examples that my girls and I have battled or are continuing to work on overcoming:
Fear of death, dying. We all had a tremendous fear of losing each other after losing almost half of our family. Previously, I have described in this blog an exercise that a therapist who was working with the girls and I in our intensive trauma based family counseling sessions conducted with us. The therapist placed the girls and I in a circle and would removed one of us and would ask the other two that were left standing there to imagine what it would be like if we were to also lose our family member that she removed from the circle. My memories of those moments still cause my body to react with trembling and tears. I looked at her as I was indescribably upset and asked her, “How could you do this to us? We have already lost so much. How could you ask us to imagine losing another?” Her answer and response were filled with compassion and empathy as she said, “Kristi, this is how you and the girls are living now.” I remember knowing in that moment that was truth. Our fear and anxiety of losing one another was so overwhelming and was affecting each of us powerfully. That fear needed to be dealt with in each of us. It was real. It was so painful. We needed to learn how to not live in this fear in the way that we currently were.
The fear that we have felt and still sometimes feel about losing one another makes sense; however, the girls and I have been committed to learning how to overcome this fear. We do not want this fear to control our lives. We want each of us to be able to live wonderful lives that are full of love, joy, hope, and lots of adventures and wonderful memories. We still battle this fear, but we will continue to work on recognizing it, overcoming it, and not letting it ruin our lives or times together.
Fear of driving. After my son died in the car accident then I truly battled a fear of my two daughters’ driving. I was so scared that they were going to have a similar fate. My Kylee was very patient with her mom during the first year after PK was killed. I kept recognizing my fear and was determined to work through it so that my two daughters would learn to enjoy driving and would not sit in fear at the wheel. When it came time for MiKayla to learn to drive then she had no desire to drive after what happened to her brother. In spite of my own issues, I was committed to cheering MiKayla on and encouraging her in this area. Thankfully, MiKayla has worked really hard on this and has learned to really enjoy driving. I am so proud of her for battling this fear and working on overcoming it. We all try to help each other by texting before we are going to go somewhere, and then letting each other know that we have arrived at our destination safely. This has helped the three of us during those times of uncertainty in regards to travel.
Fear of change. This fear was not one that I was expecting in our family; however, this fear raises it’s ugly head quite often. I think because the girls have been through such horrific changes so early in their lives that it is sometimes difficult to see change as a positive thing. This has been particularly true for my youngest. She has often said that she would like nothing more to change. When I look at her life and the horrible changes that she has had to endure of losing her daddy and her big bro then this fear is beyond understandable. It is one of my goals as her mom to help her to see all of the positive changes that have come into her life and will continue to. She is making big strides in this area, and I am so proud of her.
Fear of flying. My husband most definitely was afraid of flying. He had no desire to travel in a plane, and we spent many hours on the road due to this fear. He was able to overcome this fear and travel by plane for several years before he died. While traveling with him, you could see that he still battled that fear, but he was determined not to let it rule his life.
Fear of dogs. I grew up in a dog loving, dog raising family. However, some of my sisters in law and nieces are very scared of dogs. When we discuss why they are scared, then we have learned that several of them have been bit. They were also not raised with loving dogs as part of their family unit as I was. Dogs were always a special part of my childhood and continue to be through my adult years.
Fear of storms. After our home was hit by a small tornado years ago, then storms took on a different meaning in our family. Again, it was understandable where this fear developed, and we worked hard on overcoming this fear. Even animals have fears. Our adorable Goberian, (half golden retriever, half siberian husky), Kya, is terrified of storms. I am always amazed at how early on that she is able to detect that a storm is approaching and will huddle in a corner in our laundry room. Kya can sense them and wants no part of them. She is the sweetest dog, but she is absolutely terrified of storms.
Because of the tremendous losses that the girls and I have endured then we are also working on making sure that additional fears of more loss do not hinder us in relationships. We do not want to run from loving others or being close to others because we are afraid of losing them as well. The girls and I are dedicated to building meaningful relationships in our lives and to keep deeply loving those who are in our lives or those who will be coming in our futures. We will continue to work on this area. We all want to have loving, meaningful relationships.
For the girls and I, it has been very important to be able to identify what our fears are. I have shared some of our fears in this blog as I always want to keep this real and transparent as I have shared that I would. I also think that it is very important to be aware of how our fears may be causing trouble in our lives. Sometimes we are unaware of how fears may be interfering in our lives or what these fears are stemming from.
I shared in a previous blog the sexual abuse that I went through as a little girl with a teenage boy in our neighborhood. After the abuse occurred and I was in first grade then I often played sick from school. I did not want to go to school, and I frequently told my mom that year that I was sick and could not go. I was wearing dresses to school for some reason 🙂 but was having a problem with a boy on the playground that kept lifting up my dresses at recess. I was so upset that I did not want to go and would say that I was sick. This was stemming from a fear that was caused by what I had already experienced. I do not believe that I was connecting at the time why I was so scared and what was causing this fear in my life. As I processed the abuse in college then I was able to understand that this fear was another effect of what I had experienced already. That does not mean this boy at recess was trying to do anything else but look at my panties but for me at that time and at that age it was scary. It caused me to not want to go to school and to continue to try to play sick to avoid it. Just like the story of the little boy who cried wolf, I had been playing sick. When I actually was very sick then I was not taken seriously because I had faked being sick so much that year. My fear was interfering with my wanting to go to school.
It is always important for us to remember as we evaluate our own fears to examine our fears and to see if what we are thinking is true. The fear of change is a good example for us. Did my daughters have horrific changes in their young lives? Absolutely. However, this does not mean that every change that comes to their lives will be hurtful. They have and will continue to experience many wonderful changes as they continue to grow and develop. It is always important for each of us to remember that just because we think or feel something does not mean that it is true. We must remain vigilant in examining our thoughts and feelings when it comes to our fears.
If fear is interfering significantly in your life, then I would highly encourage you to see a trained professional who understands how to help you to learn techniques in overcoming your fears. Please do not see counseling as something for the weak. Please remember that those who choose to truly work on their issues and to get help in order to grow and heal are truly the brave ones.
A sweet, wonderful lady named Sue who was very encouraging to me in my faith and growth for a number of years shared an important piece of knowledge with me years ago. She shared with me that the Bible has the words in it “Do not fear” at least 365 times throughout it’s pages. She shared with me that it is in the Bible so many times because we need to hear those words at least once a day. These were such wise words from Sue who encouraged me so very much in my faith.
If you are struggling with fears in your own life then please join my girls and I in identifying them, finding their source, and working on overcoming them. I am not saying that this is an easy part of our journeys, but I do personally believe that it is an important component in living our best lives.
“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela
I wish you the best on your journey and pray that you will live in a way that you are able to conquer and triumph over your fears!! My wonderful daughters and I are going to do our best to overcome ours by The Grace of God and with His help and love.