Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Confronting My Fears

"Why, they're only a pack of cards, after all. I needn't be afraid of them!" said Alice.

Today is Tuesday, March  5, 2013, and there's not much left of this day.  

As she traveled through Wonderland, Alice realized that she didn't have to be afraid of the King and Queen, or any of the other royal characters at her trial, because they were only part of a deck of cards.  

It may be no coincidence that Lewis Carroll created the characters in his story of Wonderland to resemble a deck of cards.    The expression, "house of cards" means a structure built on a shaky foundation, something that is prone to collapse at any moment. (The expression has been in our language since 1645.)  Carroll wanted to get the point across that our fears are not necessarily real, or that they are not as fearsome as we make them out to be.   It's a well-known fact that when we face our fears in dreams - our own adventures in Wonderland,  they often disappear or disintegrate, much like a house of cards that falls down at the slightest provocation.  

It's interesting that our fears change over the course of our lives.  A child fears being separated from Mom and Dad.  Later, some children learn to fear certain animals (dogs, snakes, spiders, etc.).  Kids learn to fear punishment and will do anything to avoid it.  Teens fear being ostracized or made fun of by their peers.  Teens and young adults fear high-stakes tests, such as college admissions tests, bar exams, or other certification exams.  Adults fear not being able to support themselves, failing in their jobs, early death, the government, the IRS, etc.  Parents fear for their children.   Many people fear for their very lives on a daily basis. 

A number of my own fears have already been faced.  

I once faced being alone (read: unmarried or without a partner) all my life, but that is exactly what I have been since the age of 30.  I have learned the value of true friends and family, and I have a much closer relationship to God and my spiritual guide than I have ever had before.  The upshot is that although I am often alone, I don't often feel lonely.  These days, the Internet is a perfect way to communicate with friends who live all over the world - and I do communicate with many of them on a daily basis.   I am also forging a closer relationship with members of my own family, now that I live closer to them.   I'd still like to have a relationship with a special man, but if I never find another with whom to share my life, I can deal with it.   

I guess the only fear, related to having a relationship, is the fear that I will fall in love with someone who it turns out cannot stand to look at my body.  It's one thing to be overweight.  That's a problem that I can do something about.  But there's nothing that I can do about having one breast looking mangled and fake as a result of breast cancer.  I guess I'll just have to take my chances.  If he's the sort of man I'm looking for, he will accept me as I am.  And... at my age, the man I end up with might very well have a similar physical "defect" that I will have to deal with.  I know this fear is not nearly so important as I sometimes make it out to be, but I have to say that it's pretty amazing how we can lose our confidence when we compare our bodies with the media's idea of a perfect or ideal body.

My fear of death has also been faced, as I journeyed through a bout with breast cancer and recovered from double pulmonary embolisms.  Everybody dies - no exceptions there.  I guess the thing I have always feared most is a painful or lingering death, but they say that what you fear is exactly what you must endure in order to erase the fear.  Therefore I am trying not to let that fear take root in my mind.   As well, I have read from people who have had Near Death Experiences (NDE's) and from mediums who have communicated with disembodied Souls that we don't actually experience pain in a violent death, probably because Soul exits the body before that can happen. 

My spiritual training has also been invaluable in lessening my fear of death.  I have been taught to go into contemplation (like meditation, but more focused).  When I am in that state, I can identify as Soul, rather than identifying with the body.  It is a very freeing experience.  My religion teaches that Soul is eternal and cannot die.  Only the body dies.  And heaven is actually a place that we have all been to, as Soul.  We came from there before our bodies were born, and we will go there after the body dies.  But we also go there each night when we dream.  Our dreams are memories of Soul's activities in the Inner Worlds (heaven).   Also, our inner experiences during contemplation and meditation are really Soul's experiences in the Inner Worlds.   Since heaven is really a familiar place, there's nothing to be afraid of there.   Interestingly enough, those who have had NDE's and those in spirit who have communicated with mediums tell us that although there are many different areas or "places" in heaven, some of which are more pleasant than others, there is no one place called "hell" that Souls enter but cannot get out of.   

I still experience fear of not being able to make it, financially, but that fear, too, is slowly fading.  I have made it so far, and there have been a lot of times when I had very little money to my name.  Not that long ago, I finished a debt management program that I was often afraid I could not complete.  But I did it.  Somehow, I will always have "enough," even if it is not a lot. 

What do I have left to fear?  I guess I do still fear being disabled as I get older, and having to depend on others for the simplest of things.  I also fear Alzheimer's disease.  But once again, perhaps I should just not focus on these things, so that I won't have to experience them.  And there are things that I can do to avoid these outcomes.  I need to get as much physical exercise as I can, and see to it that my brain is also exercised each day.  

Franklin Delano Roosevelt had it right.  "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."   It's very interesting that he said these words on March 4, 1933, exactly 80 years and one day ago.  :-)

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