Thursday, April 14, 2005

There is no shame in being afraid. Acknowledging fear should not be shameful. I should not feel guilty and inadequate because I'm afraid of something.

Is there any other way to say that and make it clearer?

I'm afraid of lots of things. I am afraid of rejection and it impacts my life but that isn't the sort of fear that I'm thinking about today. I'm afraid of ants even though I know that that fear is not totally logical. Fear of ants and my fear of dentists are both based on negative experiences I had when I was child and even though I *know* that I am not around that kind of ants or that particular dentist but I *feel* the fear.

Other things that I'm afraid of are more logical things to fear. I'm afraid of guns. I'm afraid or driving a motorcycle. I'm afraid of fallen electricity wires. I'm afraid of things that make loud noises and can also possibly hurt me. Airplanes don't frighten me but chainsaws do. Ok, a blade with a motor is scary for me. Those motorized knives? I won't touch them. It suddenly occured to me that the feeling I have when confronted with electric knives, chainsaws, and lawn mowers is linked in my mind with my first sewing machine experience where the needle went faster and faster and I couldn't connect my foot on the peddle with the speed of the needle and so the fabric whipped around and around as I sat frozen with my foot pressing the peddle to the floor. (deep breath)

I admit I'm afraid of these things. I try to address my fears head on which is much easier once I've named them outloud. For years I used a push mower to mow our yard; I liked that it was quiet, wouldn't move on its own, and was good for the environment. We moved to a larger house/yard and my husband bought a gas mower. It was loud and I was scared of it but my husband did all the mowing and I kept the kids inside. Then we moved to a hilly acre of land and my husband was diagnosed with a heart problem that restricts him from mowing. I tried using the push mower but it took hours. I finally got myself together, read the manual for the gas mower, and tried it out. I got used to the sound and I practiced until I felt in control of the mower. For several years now I have mowed the land with the gas mower; it's hot work and takes about 2.5 hours (I split it over two days). Two days ago my father-in-law handed down his old rider mower to us. It's a Sears Craftsman and feels very big. Today I read the manual, disengaged the blades, and sat on the mower. Slowly, step by step, I started the engine, slid the throttle through its paces, and gently put the mower in gear. I jolted forward and my heart was pounding. My hands shook and sweat beaded on my forehead even though it is a cool day. I rode back and forth using 1st gear and reverse and even engaged the blades along the flat portion of land just behind the house. I had a phone in my pocket in case the mower turned over and trapped me. After several laps I braved a corner and even turned around (I think it was a 14 point turn). (deep breath) I started up the hill and it was scary. I was afraid the mower would roll over, I was afraid that I would hit a rut and flip, I felt like I was lurching. I tried small things, small sections, I backed up if I felt like it was too dangerous to go forward. Sometimes I went back and tackled a fearsome place but others I avoided.

I didn't cover the whole yard there are lots of ruts and several steep sections that I wouldn't face today but I feel more confidant. Admitting my fear and then carefully feeling out what parts I could handle and which were too much for me lessened my fear. I can use this machine.

I heard a radio article some time ago where the author claimed that women don't use power tools because the women are afraid of them. It's true that I'm afraid of loud power tools but I know a secret...lots of men are afraid of loud power tools as well. Some men are afraid but won't say so - they just avoid those tools. Some people are afraid and then they are afraid to say they are afraid and so they don't try things.

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