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Fear: Friend or Foe?

“Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I fell on Saturday. Leaving a womens’ circle, mind all serene after meditation, head in the clouds. I slipped on some damp moss and my left leg shot out in front of me and I slid on my bent right knee. Allowing myself a moment to deal with the shooting pain, no moments were given for embarrassment. I then went straight to rolling up the ripped leg of my leggings to check the damage.

My enemy

Quick break for background: I am on Warfarin. Warfarin is a blood thinner. The other day I nicked a pimple on the end of my nose and struggled to get it to stop bleeding. A few months ago a tiny slither of glass in my heel produced a blood bath. Bottom-line, I don’t want to bleed.

Back to me sitting in the moss; I’d grazed my knee, badly, but it wasn’t deep. There was no need for a band aid. I cover the wound with my now rolled up legging leg and drove home. This might seem so trivial, but it sent me into a spiral of fear. I felt sick to my stomach. I’d made plans to cycle with a friend two days later and I was petrified that I’d fall off my bike. A cut would be messy, a bump on the head would equal the ER. I am so unfit, I’d probably drag behind her.

It didn’t feel like anyone would understand, but I did the right thing and reached out. I spoke to a friend who had a serious bicycle accident a few years ago. She assured me that fear was absolutely normal, and that I needed to just explain my fears to others. I also spoke to the friend who I’d arranged to cycle with. Obviously it wasn’t a big deal. I just explained how to help me if I fell.

Making friends with fear

The following day I went for a little cycle around the neighbourhood. All the joy of cycling came back to me. I felt free. I was so excited to conquer my fear. Later on my friend offered to change the plans, but I’d psyched myself up so much that I actually HAD to cycle on Monday. The cycle was magnificent. Pre-surgery I was only just getting into cycling and trying my hand at single track mountain biking. I think the longest distance that I’d managed was about 8km. On Monday I rode almost 11km! And yesterday I hopped on my bike and knocked off 5.5km. Can it be? I might actually be fitter now than I was pre-surgery.

My fear was rational but unacceptable to me. It was robbing me of joy. I used the fear to rather increase my awareness. I used it to challenge myself. I am not afraid of falling or cycling anymore.

Photo credit: Chad Madden via Unsplash

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