Fear. It creeps up on me, seemingly without warning. Sometimes I get hit with it while brushing my teeth or waiting with my son, Nic, for his school bus or when I am walking to my studio. Like a person suddenly appearing in front of me, it startles me every time.
There are phrases using fear as an acronym, such as: F*ck Everything And Run, or False Evidence Appearing Real, or Failure Expected And Received, or Frantic Effort to Appear Real. I like some of those, but the thing that I’ve found helps the most is to admit I’m feeling fearful out loud. To “out” it. To not allow it to sit, twisting and turning in my gut, while pretending it isn’t there. Pretending it isn’t there rarely helps. On the other hand, allowing myself to go into intricate detail about it often makes it worse, like feeding a dragon, or adding fuel to a fire, (pick a cliche) so it seems there’s a balance needed. Feeling the fear, acknowledging it, and then trying to trudge along anyway, or do as my favorite saying regarding fear – feel the fear and do it anyway. The “it” is often a moving target, particularly as this morning’s fear is all around future thinking involving Emma.
Which leads me to the two most detrimental things that lead me to despair faster than anything else when it comes to my daughter – future thinking and comparing her to others. Compare and despair, they say. Deadly. It is deadly and it doesn’t matter whether I am comparing her to another autistic child or a neuro-typical, it is deadly. I try to cut that one off at the pass. If I see it coming I try to turn my back. “Don’t go there,” I tell myself. Sometimes it’s impossible, large gatherings with other children are the worst and sometimes it’s impossible to avoid. Sometimes I have to sit and hope it just washes over me and leaves. I hope there will only be a few waves of it. I hope I’ll be able to stay upright. I hope that I’ll be strong enough not to cave under the weight.
That’s the thing about fear, it can be so all encompassing, so random, so… sprawling.
Make a list. This is an action step I take when I feel as though I can’t breathe. Make a list. Prioritize. What needs to be done? This past month I have not been as diligent with Emma’s “study room” and she has not been progressing as rapidly as she had been, so I’ll need to figure out how to manage my time better to get back to that. Emma’s literacy program is one that continues to fill me with hope and gives me energy. Seeing her progress with her reading and writing has been the single most helpful thing in keeping the fear at bay. When Emma was stalled out, not moving forward, those were the darkest times. As long as she continues to progress, her self-portrait, her letter, her writing about going to the zoo, are examples and the things I cling to like so many scraps of wood in the middle of an ocean of fear. Just keep my head above the water, just hold on, keep treading, keep breathing, it will be okay. It will be okay.
Make a list. Check.
Don’t pretend I’m not feeling the fear. Out it. Check.
Feel it. Check.
Keep moving forward. Check.
I know these things won’t remove the fear, I know they won’t completely eradicate it, but they are the things I know to do that will help, even if not in this next moment, but in the next few hours, the next few days, the fear will dissipate. It always does. Take a deep breath.
FEAR = Feel Everything And Remain
To read my most recent Huffington Post, click ‘here.’
To read my guest post on Special Needs.com, click ‘here‘
Yes yes yes…..Feel everything and remain. You happen to know how the fear will creep into me as well during those moments of comparisons and future thinking. Many hugs to you!
Oh Kelly, glad to hear from you. It’s been one of those mornings, it will get better, I know. Just hard..
I think we are on rotating weeks of hard fridays lol….when I have a free moment, I iwll write you an email:) And even though we know ti will pass and get better, somehow that does not always help when the wave hits. It is comforting, yes, but the fear is so visceral. Too bad we do not live closer….coffee or tea would be nice:) and a hug on top:)
I agree! But at least we can send internet hugs, coffee and tea are harder to do. If you ever get to NYC, though…
Looking forward to your email! And in the meantime, have a good weekend. We’re hosting 6 boys for an overnight in celebration of Nic’s birthday. Valium, anyone?
Best acronym ever! I needed that.
Hi A.! Glad to see you here.
I love it…..we all know exactly what you are talking about….all been there! I love your attitude! I try to do the same things! This month I have used….Brett eating at a restaurant for the first time, just the 4 of us and it was wonderful, braving big school assemblies and making it through with flying colors, sleeping in big boy pants during the night and still going to the potty to pee even if he happens to have a pull up on! So many things to cling too and I do…TRUST ME!! :O) Blessings~ B~
Becky, this is great news! I remember when we finally got Emma to stop wearing a diaper at night, she was 8 and a half years old! I wondered if she’d ever be able to do it. It was such a huge milestone. Comparing her to children who were out of diapers when they were two was a lesson in insanity! Clinging to the huge steps and leaps…