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DO IT AFRAID

It seems like no matter how long I’ve been sober, I am always looking for insight and inspiration on conquering that “evil and corroding thread” (Alcoholics Anonymous p.67) that creeps into every aspect of my life. Fear.


When I was young, I ran away from everything that scared me. It didn’t matter if it was relationships, jobs, responsibility, or criticism – if I was afraid, I was out of there. In fact, fear dictated every move I made or didn’t make. Although some of my fears were reasonable and protected me from possible dangerous situations, most arose to tell me I’m not good enough or that I’m a failure. Or worst of all, I would be hurt or exposed. Fear even masked itself as anger or aloofness.


But I found alcohol and drugs at the age of 13, and, along with that, I found my solution to fear. When I was using, I didn’t seem to be afraid of anything. But I was always high. That gut instinct so vital to survival was gone. Numbed by various mood altering chemicals, I took chances not even realizing the risk. It was nothing for me to go into dangerous neighborhoods to get my drugs or to drive while totally wasted.


When I got sober almost 40 years ago at the age of 21, I was suddenly afraid again. I had trouble sleeping, speaking in meetings, traveling, and even going into stores. It was almost maddening. It was around my one year sobriety anniversary that I faced one of my biggest fears - losing a parent. This is when I realized the power of spirituality in conquering fear. You see, my father was very sick and there was nothing I could do to fix him. Nothing. I wasn’t sure I would be able to stay sober through it. My sponsor reminded me I had two choices. Either run away and get high or trust in God. I made the decision to trust in God this one time and see what happened. Was I still afraid? Yes – terrified. But I didn’t run away. I tried to be of service to my father and enjoy the time we had together. He taught me all the ins and outs of baseball, he shared war stories, and we told jokes to each other. What originally terrified me the most, turned out to be one of the most spiritual times I have ever known. This opened the door to faith and trust as a solution to fear.


So how do I practice this faith? Run towards fear. That’s right – run towards it. Now I don’t mean run towards fears that are unreasonable, but run towards those fears that keep life from getting bigger and better - the ones that prevent me from doing things that other people seem to do effortlessly with a carefree spirit.


Here’s my big one. I have become obsessed with hiking over the last six years. Being in nature brings me closer to God and clears my mind. It’s hard to focus on my problems when I’m walking a trail, noticing the flowers, climbing a difficult mountain, and finally reaching the summit. In fact, it’s exhilarating. But there’s a problem. My fear can trump the ability to strike out on my own.


What am I afraid of? Well, everything. First of all – heights. I can literally become paralyzed on a ledge and feel sick to my stomach. The kind of sick that prevents me from continuing.


Next are the bears. Those that know me know that bears are so near and dear to me and I support organizations that protect them. My walls are filled with photos of cubs I have supported. But I just know that I will meet my demise on a trail being viciously attacked by one of these shy creatures. They line the path hiding behind trees waiting for the opportunity to pounce – only on me.


Let’s don’t forget the serial killer seeking refuge or, worse, their next victim out in the woods. All of the Dateline reports I’ve watched over the years whirl around in my brain creating the scenario that places me in harms way.


Finally, (thank God, right?) there’s lightning. Everyone knows that if you live in the South, you will experience thunderstorms most summer days. Usually, they are brief and powerful. Looking at the hourly report on the weather app can not only give you the location of an upcoming storm but can become frustrating if checked frequently. Summer storms aren’t very predictable and can pop up in a moments notice.


But suppose I decided I was too afraid to hike? What if I just stuck to the paved sidewalks with clearly marked boundaries and plenty of people? Sure, it would be nice, but I would miss those struggles to the top and and the stunning sunsets while catching my breath. I wouldn’t see the beautiful flowers only found deep in the woods or the wildlife scurrying to escape human contact. I’d miss the rocks and roots that catch my feet and teach me to pay attention to my surroundings. I’d miss the feeling of accomplishment when I complete a trail that seemed impossible. But most importantly, I’d miss how close I feel to my Higher Power when I’m in the middle of his handiwork and realize that no human power could create where I walk. So, my solution to fear – run towards it. It’s beyond that fear that my greatest rewards have been found. Besides, it takes no courage to do something we aren’t afraid of. Right? Do it afraid!

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missyheiden
missyheiden
19 mar 2022

I love this…run towards fear. I’m so grateful for your writings.

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Carol Lind
Carol Lind
20 mar 2022
Contestando a

Thank you! ❤️

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