I’ve always been a scaredy-cat. Scared to try new things, scared to travel, scared to write…the list is endless. Problem was, I didn’t know what to do with that fear. I let it stop me, over and over again, and the more I stopped, the smaller my world became. By 2003, I could barely leave my house.
In 2004, I discovered a program to manage anxiety disorders called TERRAP. The acronym stands for Territorial Apprehension and was developed by Dr. Arthur B. Hardy. Once a week for twenty weeks I visited a therapist trained in the program, and in between visits I had homework. I kept a journal, I did relaxation exercises, and I learned how to work with my fear. I observed noticeable results by about the third week in the program, and by the end of it my therapist and I had little to talk about! After living my entire life with severe anxiety, it was hard to comprehend that in twenty weeks my life could change.
Since that time, I have traveled the world, written books, gotten divorced and remarried, and put myself in the midst of a number of scary situations. Many people who didn’t “know me when” have no idea that I have an anxiety disorder.
While anxiety can be managed, it doesn’t go away. I’m still a scaredy-cat. The difference, though, is that I have changed my relationship to fear.
When we are afraid, we have the choice to walk through one of two doors. The first makes our world smaller. We stifle our creative dreams. We push away people who love us. We sabotage success. We surround ourselves with other scared people. We tell ourselves we don’t have time to pursue our dreams, or our family won’t let us, or that we’ll just do it “later,” the tomorrow that never comes. We talk about our grand plans, but we don’t do them.
There’s another door we can choose, the door that expands our world. When our fear threatens our creativity, we stop and listen. We acknowledge the fear. We invite ourselves to take gentle, baby steps forward. We ask for help. We say, “It doesn’t feel like I have time today, but what if I gave myself fifteen minutes of time anyway? Could I do that? We let ourselves cry if we need to, and we give ourselves an inner hug, then we say, “This all looks too big to me. What can I do to break it down into manageable pieces?”
Sometimes, even when we walk through that second door, we choose to walk away. We may recognize that fear has led us to unhealthy relationships that we need to leave. We may recognize that we’ve taken on too much at once and have overloaded our fear — so we reorganize and reschedule in a manageable way. We step back from the fear, observe it, and make a thoughtful choice about what we need for ourselves.
Fear, to me, is now a great gift. It’s a messenger, something to tell me to pay attention to what I’m doing and to adjust if need be. I’m proud that for the most part, I walk through the second door. If I do walk through the first one again, it’s only temporary, and I have had enough success to trust that I am gathering my strength. I may be a scaredy-cat, but cats are strong, resilient, independent creatures. Sounds good to me.
Which door are you walking through today?
This is such a great and inpsirational post! I give you kudos for sharing your own fear with us. What a huge step for you! There are so many times I tell myself ” I’ll do that tomorrow.” Those tomorrows do add up, before you know it life is already in fast forward.
Really appreciate you sharing.
Peace and love,
Thanks, Tammy! You’re doing a great job on your blog, too…I hope my readers will check it out!
Yes, indeed, those tomorrows add up, and time moves faster and faster. Thanks for spending some of your precious time at my blog. I hope that by revealing my personal blocks, I can help others move through theirs and live the full lives that we all deserve.
That is such a brave and honest post! I can so identify with you. I’m a total wuss and I’ve fought anxiety all my life, so I know just how hard it is to force yourself past the barriers and get out there.
Good for you for doing such amazing things, and living your life.
Hurrah for you!
Thanks, Juliet! I wouldn’t have known this about you, but I also understand that I don’t “look” this way on the outside. Thanks for revealing this part of yourself. I think it really helps others when we do that.
I think that is often the way. I certainly never admitted to my anxieties except to one or two close friends, and only then when I was much older.
It’s often the way, isn’t it, that you never really tell what is going on inside someone. That’s what I love about reading a good book – it feels like the nearest possible way of connecting with someone’s inner self. Which of course is what good writing is about, and makes it so hard and so draining and so all-consuming to achieve.
A wonderful and inspiring post! I definitely get the anxiety thing. I have generalized anxiety and OCD, and I have allowed them to hold me back a lot. I have so many dreams, and I’ve said, “Later” or “Tomorrow” too many times. I am in the process of changing that. I start cognitive behavior therapy on Friday to deal better with the OCD. It sounds like the therapy you took was a type of CBT. My therapist said it would be an 8-16 week program, so I’m not getting mired down in something. I want results! And I’m willing to… Read more »
I am so excited for you! Yes, my program was CBT-based, and I am so grateful for it! I wish you much luck in your new journey. I hope it works well for you. Please stay in touch and let me know how you’re doing!
Thank you for sharing your personal story with anxiety and fear. I can really relate to this. I have always let fear rule my choices. Well, almost always. I’ve been really “studying” fear this past year, and learning to walk through it towards my goals. I still have a lot I need to do. I think a lot of people can relate, Nadine. Thank you for this.
You’re welcome, Michael Ann. I’m so glad you commented. I hope that by bringing these issues to light, that other people will feel less alone. Anxiety is one of those things we tend to not feel comfortable talking about.
I’m enjoying your blog Nadine and feel inspired already. I have also had a problem with anxiety but I tell myself it’s only a reasonable reaction to reality. Bat things do happen, but then surprise, surprise, incredibly good things happen too. I am also taking baby steps through the creative door, and in the past year have made fair progress in both writing and art. I am at a bit of a confusing crossroads on my writing journey, so blogs like yours are a big help. They get me thinking and moving.
Carol, I’m thrilled to hear that! Those “confusing crossroads” happen a lot, but if we hold each other’s hands, we can cross through safely to the next phase. Thanks for visiting and commenting.