Facing Fear


I just bought some brand new hiking boots and in a few days, I am heading to the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains on a little camping and hiking adventure.

I am going alone.

Why? Because I’m terrified, paralyzed by the fear of dying, or being mauled by wild animals in the woods or of mountain men sneaking up on me and chasing me through the wilderness. The past few nights I lay in bed imagining these and all sorts of scenarios from the discomfort of being too cold or too hot to my being hopelessly lost in the darkness, dehydrated and starving.

But all this fear is what is driving me to go, it’s my motivation to push myself out of my comfort zone and beyond my own self-imposed mental limits. I hate fear. It is an ugly, paralyzing word.

Turns out, the older and more settled I am, the more afraid I become of losing everything. Sometimes when I find myself on top of the world, wallowing in happiness, dark ugly thoughts creep in like an early morning fog overshadowing my sunshine, reminding me how bad things can happen and change life in an instant.

A little over a year ago when we first moved from our peaceful suburban neighborhood in the sticks of Virginia to the touristy college town of St. Augustine, every noise outside of my window had me bolting out of bead, my heart thumping in my chest convinced someone was breaking in. Startled awake in fear each night became part of me, like some big ugly mole that just appeared out of nowhere.

Storms here were torrential and terrifying with rain so heavy I couldn’t see past my hood and I’d become so afraid of driving in them, I wouldn’t leave town if there was even one sketchy-looking cloud in the sky. I became a huge ball of nervous anxiety. Fear had taken over and I had let it win.

But then, I decided to take a trip alone to Italy where I was forced to face an insane amount of fears, from not being able to communicate, to being forced to ride along mountainy cliff-hugging roads, certain death was not far off. The experience knocked my piddly little fears from back home right out of me, like chicken soup does a cold. When I returned to St. Augustine, I was  fearless and happier than ever.

Since Italy, I’ve not been afraid to drive in Florida storms or of the imaginary would-be St. Augustine burglars, I am however terrified of the mountains and everything relating to them. I eye them suspiciously as I do the ocean, preferring to marvel at their splendor from a safe distance. I’ve made peace with my fear of the ocean, content to sit on the edge, knowing one day I will face that hurtle, but not yet, I’m not ready. I’ve come a long way, allowing my children to swim and surf in the deep blue vastness, knowing full well what lurks beneath the surface.

For now, I will tackle my fear of the mountains and hike the trails and sleep alone in the wilderness.  I will force myself to not be afraid, little by little, day by day. I can do this and I know somehow this trip will change me, whether for good or bad, I will be different when I return….

 “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Categories: Road Trips, Travel Stories, U.S.Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 comment

  1. Okay…..FEAR. FEAR. FEAR. What a topic! My body shivers as I think about you out there…..all alone…..what are you thinking? I ADMIRE your courage, that’s what I’m thinking. I admire your spirit. My gosh, we all have so many things we are afraid of. Why? Life is not about being afraid, it’s about living. Why is it the older we get, for some, the more fearful we become? Afraid of shaking up our worlds. I am THAT girl. I am you now, but instead of staring out there at the mountains challenging her fear, facing her fear, I’m sitting here in the safety of a room, a family, a world I created, wishing I could find what I seem to have lost so many years ago. Back then, I wasn’t afraid of anything.

    Maybe it’s the fact, that for some, when you don’t have the sensation of fear, you can’t feel it. It’s a foreign emotion, never placed in one’s DNA. Or perhaps it has something to do with surviving. Because when you’re trying to survive, you’re not able to feel it – one of God’s many great gifts to us. It’s not until you come out of the woods, whatever woods we create/or faced in our own worlds, which then are youable to breathe in the air of a reality and say I’m never going through that again. And so you make the conscience choice to NOT-GO-THERE. And so you don’t. And in that choice, somewhere deep, deep inside, you know you are dying a very slow death. You learn to twist, turn, bob and weave because whatever that pain is, it’s bearable. The unknown isn’t. So one day when you come back from a walk, someone writes a post, which stirs up something you buried so long ago and has been on your mind for such a long time now, and you say to yourself, there is more to life than this. Where are you? Be Bold Again! Stop being so scared.

    Two weeks ago, a mother of two, a woman I knew, the mother of my daughter’s friend DIED. Just like that……GONE. Diagnosed with Melanoma cancer in the spring and died on a Friday, the first week back to school. This has upset me. Why does a child lose her mother? Only God knows.

    We need to shake up our worlds. However it needs to be done. For you…..at the moment….it’s mountains. I will be praying BIG time for your safety. For me…..it’s the past. For someone else……they can fill in the blank. I posted this on my Facebook last month.

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
    -Mark Twain

    Be safe Tammy and thanks for the post. It was exactly what I needed right now. Please know that you have inspired me. Love ya bunches!

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