fable of the strong fearful woman

For years, our heroine—we’ll call her “Elizabeth” because she likes the name—had struggled to create security for herself.

She’d moved to area untroubled by tornadoes, hurricanes, or earthquakes…

…then entered well-paid profession that promised future stability.  Her employer—a large but low-profile corporation—made fiscally-sound decisions.

Though her gated community was quite safe, Elizabeth still installed burglar alarms and built a tall fence around the backyard.  She insured everything that could be insured.

She did background checks on potential mates, potential friends, and even co-workers.  She never pet stray dogs.

She thought being an overly zealous health-nut might stress her body.  But she did eat healthy meals, avoid fatty snacks, and attend a low-impact aerobics class three times a week.

You know those big gold earrings so popular now?  She actually stopped wearing them, afraid one of those hoops would get caught on something.

She did all that and more.  Nonetheless, Elizabeth still felt insecure.

“What else can I do!” she cried to herself.  “Every moment—every step—a burden of fear chokes my breath.  Now, I’m worried that all my worrying might result in a heart attack.  I’m ready to die—that’s how afraid of death I am.  What agony!  How can I deal with this constant feeling of dread?”

Speaking that question, she suddenly—finally!—realized the obvious: security exists as a feeling.  Yes, she could feel more secure by making her environment safer.  But to create true security, she needed to go within and deal with her fear.

“Why didn’t I think of that before?” she asked her mirror.  “But of course—I was afraid of my fear.  Well, no more.  I’m ready for battle.  I’ll win this war!”

But how?  How to begin?

She decided she should examine the storm waters of her childhood.  In short time, she realized another obvious fact: hard for a little girl to build a firm foundation of security in such a chaotic ocean.  However…

…sometimes on a raging night, that child would dive down deep inside herself and find a solid kernel of gold to hold.

So Elizabeth now began to meditate down into herself every day.  Before long, she rediscovered that kernel of gold.  Small, but solid.  Perhaps the beginnings of a foundation.

However, when she resurfaced, that kernel seemed to slip away too easily.  What now?  She couldn’t sit and meditate all day long.

But she could repeat “personal peace” affirmations in her head every waking hour.  She also tried hypnosis and a type of yoga that was supposed to center you.  Well, she did center—at least, while doing the yoga.

Anyway, after a few weeks of this intense regimen, she actually did feel a little more peaceful, a little more secure.

However…

…her mind was still like a car on an icy road.  She’d be rolling along just fine…

…then an unseen patch of ice would send her slipping and sliding.  She’d fight to steer the car back on track, but once out of control, that mind had a will of its own.

“Accidents can happen in a flash,” her mind would tell her.  “One moment, you’re gazing quietly at a star twinkling in the night sky above…

…then suddenly—whoosh!—the ground collapses under your feet and you land in the dark slimy pit of a sinkhole.  That’s no exaggeration!  Big buildings and people have disappeared without warning!

“Even if you lock yourself in a bunker, you could wake up one morning with an untreatable neurological disease.

“That ain’t paranoia, girl—that’s the truth of human life.”

Despite all her work, Elizabeth—dear frazzled Liz—wasn’t able to rid herself of the deep dread that threatened to completely debilitate her.  So she surrendered—but heroically.

“I WILL NOW ACCEPT INSECURITY!” she wrote in her journal, using the red pen.  Those big bold letters blazed at her like fiery courage.

Fortunately, she had sense enough not to jump to the opposite extreme.  She didn’t quit her job, didn’t empty out her bank account or cancel all her insurance or stop eating healthy and exercising.  She knew she’d go into shock if she suddenly removed all her safety nets.

Nor did she stop the meditation and centering yoga.  Those activities might not be a cure-all, but she felt better with them than without them.

No, Elizabeth didn’t “embrace” insecurity.  But she did stop trying to destroy her anxiety.  She now accepted it as a permanent part of her life.  Something that she had to learn to live with.  Not a friend, but also not a foe.

With that shift came this shift in perspective…

If you’ve learned to live with your fear, why you should feel like a failure?  Like a fraidy cat?  If every new step feels like a death-defying act and yet, you continue to step, then isn’t every single step an accomplishment?  A success?  “If I’m walking a tightrope, I deserve kudos for my courage,” she told herself.

And so, her life now sizzles with the thrill of every new moment, instead of being weighed down by the dread of what might happen next.

She knows that high-wire walkers must constantly monitor their internal balance.  So as she steps, she goes past her head and listens to what’s happening deep within.  Nothing less than a centering meditation with every step!  In this way, she’s slowly begun to feel more stable, more secure—causing her initial intense rush to ease just a bit.  But that’s okay—too much adrenaline eventually exhausts us.  In any case, she’ll never feel completely relaxed.  But now, I don’t think she wants to relax completely.  For that matter, complete relaxation isn’t so safe, is it?

“Since I’ve learned to live with my weakness, I feel so much stronger,” she wrote in her journal, using the green pen.

By the way, in case you’re wondering…

…she did stop the background checks. After all, she’s learned: though some problems may remain, people do change.

© 2019, Michael R. Patton
40 New Fables: ebook

About Michael Patton

I am a poet, novelist, and storyteller...A new mythologist, a peace miller, a dream worker...I don't qualify as an illustrator or photographer--I just "make pictures"...I have thirteen books available at amazon... I currently reside in northwest Arkansas, but have lived and worked all over the United States... I'm self-taught, for the most part--which is like searching for the right door in the dark. It's an on-going process.... I don't want to write MY story, I want OUR story, so that's what I'm studying: the human story: past, present, future, in its many aspects--including the spiritual. I'm proceeding at a slow crawl.... I don't see the inner world and outer world as separate. By learning about myself, I learn about others, I learn about my world.... Conversely, as I struggle to understand what I see OUT THERE, I learn about myself.... But to be clear: I don't claim any special understanding. I'm still purblind, still only half-awake.... After frustrating experience with the publisher of my first novel, I've published on my own, beginning with e-books, with plans to move into print and audio. Even video.... Along with a second novel, I've now published eight books of poetry. Each poetry book focuses on a theme. For instance, the collection GLORIOUS TEDIOUS TRANSFORMATION is about the slow difficult wonderful process of change.... In that book, as with all my work, I try to be accessible to a general audience, while also striving to achieve a certain literary quality.
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