Monday, February 18, 2008

Lady's Blade, Part 3: The Scareder Sex

My life has been much defined by fear. Whether it's fear of not being accepted in a new group, the fear that dinner won't come out just right, or just plain old fear of fire, it seems as if the feeling is always hanging out in the back of my brain. My husband constantly chides me for this, telling me there's no reason to be so afraid of everything that comes along. But the truth is, this fear was largely trained into me. You see, all through Jr. High and High School, the girls were constantly being separated from the boys and taken to watch some video or hear some speaker telling us all about the dangers that we would face, as girls, in this world. And because you can never have too much fear mongering, my parents made me read every article in the local newspaper about abduction and rape "just so I'd know what could happen".

The message was always the same: Keep your keys between your knuckles, use your elbows and the heel of your palm when attacked. But the most important message was AVOID questionable situations and failing that, RUN. This is the message that I couldn't help but to carry with me.

Of course, I let go a little bit in college. I went for midnight runs and took chances on new friends and boyfriends. I had a few adventures, but fear is a sticky thing. And even though you think you may have scrubbed the last bit off your hands there's going to be a little bit stuck under your fingernails, just waiting. So it is that I find myself still tethered to it today. There are people that I would like to reach out to and become close to. There are new adventures I'd like to have.

Lest you think me totally paralyzed, I will get to the point of this post. If you guessed fencing, you guessed right. In the interest of honesty I will tell you that it took me a long time to work up the courage to begin fencing. I learned of my first club at least two years before I finally ventured to take a lesson. It was mostly a fear of failure, I think, that was responsible for my hesitancy. And of course I still encounter fear when I am fencing, but it is the only venue where facing my Fear head on is as easy as stepping on the strip. I find I am protected and armed against it on the strip. I am powerful, I have leverage, I am impenetrable. And I will only ever become stronger in facing my fear on the strip. And the seemingly simple realization that fear CAN be overcome has given me courage in other parts of my life; and that feeling too, can only become stronger.

Writing this now, I wonder if the reason I still fear the dark alley is because I've never had reason to face it.

Til every river runs dry
Until the sun, honey's, torn from the sky
'Til every fear you've felt burst free
And gone tumblin' down into the sea

No comments: