Not for Nothing NH
I took Little Miss Youngest ice skating for the first time in a long time today. She was visibly nervous in the chill of the arena and as we stepped on the ice she wavered and caught herself again and again.
Holding my hand as she wobbled along, she surprised me when she giggled and said:
“I love this feeling.”
“Oh yeah? What feeling is that?”
“This feeling of fear in my body when I do this.”
Interesting. I wonder if, as adults, we force ourselves into that place so infrequently that we struggle to embrace what we once welcomed; bogey men, bad guys, the feeling that something would grab your leg from beneath your bed when your feet hit the floor, someone chasing you up a flight of stairs (ahem-Partner in Crime), the fear of a sibling trapping you in a sleeping bag, a jump scare of any persuasion.
For about a week after my grandfather passed away, when I was younger, I was so terrified that I would see a ghost when I woke up in the middle of the night that I would pull the covers over my face and refuse to open my eyes. The possibility of ghosts was real and a little exciting.
Rappelling from a tree platform, as an adult, gave me that same feeling of fear and excitement. Leaning backwards off the edge into the abyss – the rope – your only means of stopping your fall, is in your own hands. The fear viscerally tightens in your stomach as you drop into your harness – no turning back- and you wonder how much you trust in YOU.
What do we do with fear as an adult? When you can’t pull the covers over your head and stay in your safe warm bed? When you can’t shut it out by closing your eyes?
Like that breath before the rappel drop, we steel ourselves and dig deep for strength. In with the anxiety, out with the grunt of “everything in me says I don’t want to do this, but here we go.“ Then follow the “what if” all the way down the path. What if I do see a ghost? What if it is my grandfather? What if it is too painful? And there it is – loss is painful. Can I handle that?
It leads us to the same place. Do I trust myself? Am I strong enough? Can I hold the tether that supports me and steel myself from the negative without the blanket? Little Miss Youngest revels in that fear, enjoys it even, because her answer to each of these questions is yes.
So, the next time I wake in the middle of a dark night and plant my feet next to the hollow underside of my bed, I will take a lesson from Little Miss Youngest, choosing to linger for a minute and have a laugh at the bogey man under my bed.
I’m Jen Hollidge, a full-time program coordinator, full-time mother of two amazing daughters and full-time wife to my partner in crime for 18 years. We live in Concord, N.H. I have an English degree from the University of New Hampshire and I love to write.