I have thanatophobia. For those who don’t know it’s an insane, irrational fear of death. I know death is looming and the thought can paralyze me in an instant if I’m not careful. I’ve had hundreds of panic attacks thinking about life as I know it ending and trying to rationalize it in my head. It never works. My belief in God says it’s not supposed to, but I keep trying like an idiot.
I’ve learned to live with the fear, though I do try to talk to professionals about it if gets overwhelming. But it also means I have taken only one trip on an airplane in the last 10 years. I used to love flying, long before anxiety and fear kicked in and crippled me. I drive everywhere now – even across the country. And yes, I know that driving is more dangerous than flying, but apparently I’d rather die on the road than falling out of the sky. Thanatophobia also manifests itself into many other fears that control my days. I’m terribly skittish, nearly hitting the ground if I hear a loud bang or if someone just surprises me. I scream bloody murder, ask my husband. I once went to a shooting range and before I even got settled into a lane, I heard someone shoot and came flying out, crying. It scared me….nearly to death.
All that to say this, fear doesn’t take a holiday. Not today, on this day we celebrate the freedom afforded to us by our ancestors and those who have served and are serving to help keep us free and safe. I will hear fireworks tonight and, because I know the holiday, I will watch with child-like happiness at their beauty. I will not be afraid because I can see them and I know they are coming. But my fear is still there and it can hit at any time, even today.
I decided on January 1 of this year that I was going to work hard to take control back from fear. I was turning 40 this year and it was a perfect time to change my path. I want to travel. I want to naturally be calm and relaxed. I want to be my authentic self, not controlled by fear. To that end, I made a list to myself of a few things I was going to do this year to help me take my freedom back.
- “Walk This Way” The fear of heights is strong in this one and hubby challenged me last year to walk around Vulcan one time to prove to myself that I could. I tried one other time, a few years ago, and couldn’t let go of the stone wall inner core in order to move; I barely made it across the walkway from the elevator to the observation deck of Vulcan. I’m happy to report that we went by Vulcan earlier this year on a whim and I did it! It was glorious.
- “Big Jet Airliner” I surprised hubby when I told him earlier this year that I WAS getting on a plane to somewhere this year. Well, that somewhere happens to be Las Vegas for work in October. I’m excited because it will be my first trip to Vegas, but I’m already having panic attacks about it. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
- “Just Like a Tattoo” I have always wanted a tattoo. ALWAYS. My mother even took me to get one when I was much younger and I chickened out because the artist said it would hurt. A few months ago, again on a whim, hubby and I decided we would get tattoos. It hurt like crazy, but I wasn’t scared for some reason. And I love it! I am so happy I finally did it.
- “Bootylicious” I am ENTIRELY too bootylicious, as in I have way too much booty going on, along with too much of everything else. To help with that, I started working out, discovered an awesome new fitness class I am loving, and will be finally starting yoga in the next few weeks. I’m most excited about the yoga to help me calm down, control my energy and body with learning how to breathe properly, and get stronger inside and out. I am grateful for this new adventure with Melissa Scott Yoga.
- “Off With Her Head, er, Hair!” I’ve gone back and forth on this for years. My hair is nice, but boy, does it make me hot (ie. SWEAT). It drives me bonkers. I’ve always wanted super short hair and have veered away from it my entire adult life. I’ve cut it short, but not nearly as short as I want. I recently cut off 11 inches to donate, also hoping it would cool me off some. That’s a negative, Ghost Rider. Inspired by some very sassy, sexy lady friends who recently shaved it all off, I’ve decided to chop some more off. No, I’m not going GI Jane – I can’t because of my job, though I wish sometimes I could just for the sheer coolness of it (literal coolness, not figurative). But I will be sporting a cut somewhere between my super crazy woman crush Lindsay and this when I get done.
This all goes back to taking MY freedom back from fear. Forty seems like the perfect age to get it together, do what I’ve always wanted, and be my authentic self. This year is MY year…in so many ways. I am blessed beyond measure and thank God everyday for that. Will this be your year, too? What will you be doing to take back your freedom from distractions or things that hold you back? What are you already doing to be your authentic self?