Friday, February 18, 2011

The Courage to Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

Our youngest daughter got a pair of hermit crabs for Christmas.
As much as I hate the little buggers, I can really relate to them!
If you pick up a hermit crab and wait long enough, it will start to emerge from it’s shell. Slowly, one claw peaks out. Then another begins to show itself. However, the instant you being to touch one of these tiny appendages, the cautious little crab retreats back into the safety of it’s traveling home. In an instant, the crab is gone! All that's left is a shiny red painted shell with a pair of jiggling plastic eyes glued on. Creepy, yet effective!
It reminds me of being a child, eyes closed and hands over my ears, chanting, “I can’t hear you, I can't hear you...”
If I had one, I would have hidden myself away inside the safety of my shell too!
I didn’t have a fancy painted shell Per Se, but I certainly knew how to retreat into my own metaphorical shell! I spent a fair amount of time curled up inside pretending nobody could see me. Hoping that if I were still enough, I could become invisible.
Peeking out of my shell was a risk that I rarely took and I paid a price for it.
Although it may be safe being hidden away in here, it also gets lonely.
As an adult I have found that I am able to take risks,
and in many ways, I know I am brave.
I find it frustrating though, that there are still areas of my life where I am just as fearful as the little hermit crab. There is a part of me deep inside that, like the crab, is small, fragile, tentative and ugly.
I keep a proper looking shell, so nobody knows I’m in here if I don’t want them to. Unfortunately, I’m so accustomed to hiding that sometimes people don’t know I’m here even when I wish they would!
I can imagine that the fear of making myself vulnerable by sharing my real feelings is something like what the crab might experience when it ventures out of it’s shell. These days, it’s the hermit crab’s sudden retreat when threatened that I relate to most.
I catch myself doing an about face when I begin feeling vulnerable.
On Valentine’s Day, I made my husband a card and inside, I wrote a note. It was real, honest and not particularly well written. I felt uncertain and embarrassed about sharing these genuine feelings.
What I had to say seemed childish and I felt stupid. I thought about starting over, but I stopped myself from rewriting it. I had made myself vulnerable and as always, my husband was loving and didn’t judge me at all.
I do enough judging on my own!
We exchanged cards, candy and even stuffed animals and we had a lovely dinner at home with the family. Seems like one of those “Hallmark” moments, right? Not to my scared little parts hiding inside. I took a big risk and even though I am safe and loved, my fear was too much for my little ones to handle and I retreated back into my shell. I got angry with my kids and at my husband. I felt ashamed and exposed and like those ugly little hermit crabs, I was gone! Nothing left but a shell; an angry shell.
I did catch myself and I was able to reel it in before I did any harm or hurt any feelings, but I still felt small and angry. I was scared and defensive, but I was able to recognize it.
I am starting to understand that I am safe and I am slowly learning that it’s OK to be me.
These days the good news is that I am putting myself in the position to feel this terrifying feeling much more often as I continue doing the work of healing.
I know that I am brave because I am choosing to feel the fear and do it anyway.

1 comment:

  1. You are strong and brave and wonderful!! You are stepping out so gingerly and testing the waters....and it is marvelous to see these tiny steps that are going to lead to a marathon!! God bless you!! hugs, amie