Who knew that there was a day specifically set aside for facing ones fears? I didn’t, until this month. According to daysoftheyear.com, this holiday is always the second Tuesday in October, so the date changes each year. This year it is today, October 14. And for my first, I “celebrated” the day by being mindful of my journey and all the fears I have overcome.
Fear is a powerful emotion that can paralyze us, keeping us stuck in a supposed safe place. Many terrors begin in childhood because of an incident beyond the control of the child, such as fear of water because of a near drowning, fear of storms because of a tornado passing through, fear of the dark because of strange noises emanating from the closet. The memory or energy of that incident remains trapped within and each time a similar event occurs, that memory gets triggered, and the energy stirs, and we feel it as butterflies in the stomach or an icy grip around our hearts. We pull back. We begin to avoid those things which trigger the fear and a phobia is born.
I know all about fear. I lived most of my life in the clutches of it. Many of those fears were common fears… of the dark, of dolls, of strong storms, of loss, death and isolation, of failure, of not being enough. It took reaching middle age, and the loss of two dear people, to realize that all my fears centered around one major, deep seated fear. I was afraid of who I was, at my core, and the gifts I’d been given to share with the world. I was afraid to shine, as the person I was Divinely created to be.
Watching The Lord of the Rings, Fellowship of the Ring about 12 years ago, a scene caught my attention. I knew I was seeing a picture of myself played out on my tv screen. Gandalf the Grey, the wizard in the film, is leading the fellowship through the mines of Moria. The little band of travelers has just discovered that the occupants of the mine are all dead. There is a darkness in the mines that goes beyond a lack of light. Gandalf raises his staff and allows a very small amount of light to shine forth, lighting their way. He whispers, “Let us hope that our presence may go unnoticed.” I replayed that scene over and over and something shifted near my heart. That was me, not allowing my light to shine brightly, hoping that my presence would go unnoticed. That fear of shining as my true self kept me small and invisible. It caused me to be a people pleaser, an avoider of conflict and controversy, silent when my voice could have made a difference. It was my smallness caught in isolation that created the fear of death and loss, fear of the dark, fear of being alone.
My journey shifted as well that day. Oh, the fears didn’t disappear overnight. But as I released fear after fear, I began to draw amazing people and situations to me that gave me opportunity to shine as the person I am created to be. And finally, as I fully embraced who I am and all that I am, gifts, abilities and quirks, I could quietly, courageously face the last of my fears and watch them drop away. The dark no longer menaced me and I no longer had to fear being alone, especially at night. It is a continuing journey, walking as me, finding my voice, and I am still learning and growing into what that means and how to offer who I am to others.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” I agree. By facing my fear, I have done that which I never thought I could do, in many areas of my life. I am grateful for National Face Your Fears Day because it reminds me of how far I have journeyed, and what is possible when I shine bright. There is no place within me for fear to hide in that great light.