Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

A New Chapter Begins

My life has been led by far too much fear.

If you had asked me ten years ago while I was still healthy, I would have been very sure that fear played little role in the direction life was taking.

I would have been wrong.

Over the last several months I have been thinking about fear’s role in my life. Its not just the fear I felt every time I stepped out into the darkness at night alone the last eight years, but also the fear that has unknowingly held me back from jumping in and living life instead of life living me.

I see fear in my choice to stop following veterinary medicine after a negative experience while observing a surgery on a large dog in my 2nd year of college.

There was a great deal of hidden fear that caused me to be content with stoner friends who rarely did anything but sit around and have a good time.

In fact, an amazing amount of my life decisions have been chosen based on an unknown fear of failure. Much easier to set expectations of myself lower so that I can be the superstar I want to perceive instead of merely being average at something I put a lot of effort into.

I have done a lot of really great and brave things in life, but there was so much more I would have done had fear not gotten in my way. I wish I had known this years ago, before illness took away huge chunks of my ability to live and follow my dreams.

After becoming ill, my fear took on a whole new dimension as there was suddenly a tremendous amount of things to be afraid of. Overnight I had to become hyper vigilant of toxic exposures which could severely impact my quickly diminishing health.

These could be found hiding in plain sight on any stranger I passed on the street, in any building I entered, any street I walked down, a shift in the breeze, a box in the mail, and many other places. Perfumes, fabric softener, car exhaust, fresh paint, solvents, pesticides… so many things and more to be wary of.

Suddenly everything I knew about being safe in the world was turned completely upside down and every where I turned was another dangerous situation that had to be avoided or minimized at all costs.

My world had become a battlefield in a hostile and foreign land.

Even at home I was not necessarily safe. Living in a tent with nylon walls does not offer much protection against anything. I found myself fearing mountain lions, bears, trees falling on our tent in a wind storm, heavy snow storms, power outages, people not respecting our privacy and strolling into camp at their leisure, shifts in wind bringing toxic fumes from neighbors into our tent, neighbor dogs rooting through our stuff, and raccoons doing the same. Worse yet was all of the above, but in the dark where I could not see it coming.

evil raccoon

"My evil plan is working."

This fear had made me unable to leave the comfort of our lighted tent at night without Jeremy nearby, even for a simple trip to our ‘facilities’ because it meant being completely enclosed in the dark with nothing but my flashlight to see by. I used to go backpacking alone overnight and now I could not even tolerate 1 minute in the dark by myself without a panic attack overwhelming me.

Then a few months ago something began to change.

At first it changed so slowly I didn’t even see a difference until last month. I was up at our refrigerator area (about 70 ft from the tent) and using my sinus medication. It takes about 20 minutes for the whole process and it was quickly getting dark. Oddly, this hardly bothered me at all. I stayed the whole time and then calmly walked back to the tent. First time in eight years I have been able to do anything like this.

Over the last few weeks I have even gotten to the point where I have wanted a little quiet “me time” some evenings. I walk up to the chair we have by the fridge, have a seat, and just relax for a while – after dark. Critters rustling around in the bushes, breeze making strange noises in the trees – none of it freaks me out anymore.

When I do get spooked a bit, it is a pretty simple matter to calm my mind and body back down to a place where I can continue to enjoy the time spent alone, in the dark with only my flashlight. I have actually turned it off a couple of times. Only briefly off, but I still had the courage to do it.

Almost exactly what it looks like 20ft from our tent at night.

I am seeing this same shift away from fear in many aspects of my life and how I look at situations. Such as making a very important and empowering choice to stop fighting my situation and working with it instead.

To fully explain what brought about this change would take at least one more article, very possibly more. In summary, I have been utilizing alternative mind/body healing practices for nearly a year, specifically EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Reiki. It is these practices to which I attribute many of these massive changes.

I have not spoken of these things here in my blog because of my fear that at even merely mentioning I am finding healing in alternative means, it would damage my credibility and the degree my chronic illness is taken seriously.

Having one’s integrity and mental soundness questioned goes hand in hand with a diagnosis of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was reticent to add to that by opening the door for further skepticism with alternative therapies. It appears that in writing this article, I am again seeing the same shift from a fear led life to one I lead on my own.

Too much of my life has been governed by fear. That chapter is now closing and it is time for me to write the next chapter in my own words.

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9 responses

  1. You’re not taking away from the legitimacy of the illness at all my using a mind technique to cope with your fears. Well people have fears and many never do anything about them. I applaud you for facing your challenges. I tell you, though, when I looked at your path, I think I would be a bit nervous, too:-)

    Kudos to you!

    Pris

    August 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    • Hi Pris! πŸ™‚

      Thank you very much for the encouragement! I have wondered more than a time or two if part of what has led me to this place I am at in life was a need to learn all this stuff. I can see myself having lived the same life that was steered by fear for all my years had something drastic not intervened.

      Ask me in ten years if it was worth it, I may know by then. lol

      Hugs! Lisa

      August 16, 2010 at 6:45 pm

  2. Lovely. πŸ™‚

    I see … look, there it is, around the corner … Soundness coming … this blog entry is saturated with it.

    I am quietly delighted. πŸ™‚

    Brava.

    August 16, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    • Hi Jody! πŸ™‚

      I was thinking the same thing too while writing it. πŸ™‚

      Hugs too! Lisa

      August 16, 2010 at 6:47 pm

  3. Rebekah

    Don’t ever think that by mentioning alternative therapies that people will judge you. It doesn’t help you any to fear criticism/skepticism from people you don’t know and may not ever meet. I have a laundry list of health problems myself and have also lived in a tent when my fiance and I were homeless for 6 months. It is really hard to stay positive and upbeat…let alone when you are battling health issues and/or emotional issues on top of everything else. One of my health problems is adrenal exhaustion, brought on by PTSD from my childhood. I went for biofeedback and it was AMAZING! I wish I could afford it regularly 😦 It looks loony sitting there wearing this tinfoil type hat and wristband but the relief (even temporarly) from my symptoms was priceless. I’ve also had acupuncture, practice EFT, Reiki, and polarity therapy. I hope to to one day become a Reiki Master. It can be fear inducing to even think about living a life without so much fear. Good for you for recognize this trait within yourself and for having the self awareness to deal with it. You should be proud!

    August 16, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    • Hello Rebekah! Its a pleasure to meet you. πŸ˜€

      It always makes me very happy to hear from others who have also been homeless in a tent themselves. This is one of the major reasons I write this blog – to help bring hope and a feeling of community to others who have been through the same. There were many times when I would have found much solace in reading someone’s story like this and knowing I wasn’t the freak everyone was making me out to be at the time.

      I’m sorry to hear of your health troubles. EFT has been amazingly helpful for dealing with my PTSD triggers too. I have never tried biofeedback but anything with a cool tinfoil hat sounds neat to me!

      I am proud! Thank you for the very awesome post!

      Have a beautiful day! Lisa πŸ™‚

      August 16, 2010 at 6:57 pm

  4. hi Lisa,

    So cool that that fear has shifted enough for you to share about this!

    I personally think it is SO awesome that you are trying different things.
    We all know that the techniques in the CFS/MCS/FM community that are considered ‘acceptable’ don’t lead to people having full recoveries. So to me, it gives someone more credibility, not less, if they expand their search outside of the accepted norm.

    EFT is based on the acupuncture meridians and although it has the word ’emotional’ in it’s title, it can actually work on a physical level. It has helped my PTSD and other emotional things but it has also lessened MCS reactions, helped physical pain and, I believe, cleared blocks I had to beginning to heal from MCS.
    I, too, was nervous to share openly that I was trying alternative modalities and at first I did have some nasty comments. But I believe now that the (closed-minded) people who would judge me for this are not ones I want as friends anyway… so I’m getting less bothered by it.

    Fear is such a huge part of MCS and I think that, given the known negative physical effects of fear, it makes sense to use whatever tools we can to lessen it.
    I don’t personally believe it’s possible to heal while in fight/flight/freeze mode really often.
    It is wonderful to hear about this shifting for you πŸ™‚

    I hope you post more about your forays into alternative areas. I will start following by RSS!

    take care
    Libby

    September 8, 2010 at 5:42 am

  5. p.s. I forgot to say that I am also having great results with Eden Energy Medicine

    September 8, 2010 at 5:42 am

  6. Hello Libby!

    I fully agree with your post.

    Biggest is the healing while in flight/fight mode.

    Six years ago a friend showed me a lot of the energy techniques to correct energy flow, but they did absolutely no good. In retrospect, it was a very big time of flight/fight going on due to some crazy circumstance and not being nearly as secure in our tent life as I am now.

    In the last few days I have again come across these very same exercises and to my surprise I am finding them extremely helpful. I have been puzzling over why they work now compared to six years ago, and your comment about healing in flight/fight really makes a lot of sense for this.

    Thanks for stopping by and helping me figure out my latest health mystery! Hugs, Lisa

    September 8, 2010 at 1:06 pm

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