False Evidence Appears Real
A couple of years ago I learned a lesson about myself. I am great at helping others overcome their anxiety, their fears. I challenge them to face their fear and tell them that fear is nothing other than False Evidence Appearing Real because I truly believe that. I believe you can conquer fear and that you should in order to move to the next level in your life and live the life you’ve always dreamed of. Well that day I had to eat some of my words. You see fear crept in mightily and got the best of me. Why? Because I let it. I gave into it, totally 100% gave in to it.
First I feel the need to tell you that I have been an avid skier in the past, the kind of skier that dragged her friends down the black moguls (well once anyway) but seriously was a great fast skier of blue slopes, a snob to green slopes. I was the type of ski machine who could glide down a hill with enough grace to not fall down even once in a 3 day ski trip. Yeah that was me! Now that I’ve validated my value/worth as a semi- Olympic skier, I feel I can describe to you what happens to a would be gold medalist when struck by a little thing that is nothing more than false evidence appearing real.
In defense of myself, I had skied all day and I do mean all day after not skiing for at least 9 years or more. I was tired, tired and did I mention I was tired? And cold, cold! After a short rest, I looked at the time only to realize the lifts would be closing in a mere 30 minutes. Now in the past, I would have been saddened by this news and tried to ride it as many times as possible before it closed, perhaps even sneaking in a ride after it closed – oops. But the new and improved Dianne said, well guys I’m going to head down now and I’ll take the “Easy Way Down” – the fictitious name for the longest slope in the world to get you all the way down from the tip top of the mountain. I quickly learned that ‘easy way down’ needed to be redefined. What exactly does ‘easy’ mean? Hard is the new easy. Let’s see if we can kill the skiers is the new easy. Steep and icy is the new easy. I did what any good skier knows not to do – I wedged my skis and snowplowed it down as much as I could because real true skiing made me feel totally out of control. Snow plowing also made me feel totally out of control. Being on skis made me totally out of control. Pretty soon I came to a steep edge, which I might add I had taken faster than my friend earlier in the day. All of a sudden any and all of my tried and true coping mechanisms went out the window or down the slope in front of me. Box breathing? Haha! I could barely breathe at all! Rapid eye movement therapy? What’s that?! Mind over matter? It was as though I’d never heard of it! Change your mindset, change your life! Whaaat?! What I did know is that there was no way in the whole cold white snowy world that I was going to SKI down that hill!! I kicked off my skis, bundled them in my arms like a large awkward child and began the butt bump down the icy steep slope. An angel named Jeremiah appeared. I haven’t read of him in the Bible and until now didn’t realize that angels can snowboard. Jeremiah kindly asked if he could hold my skis, then he took my hand as we butt bumped together down the icy slope. This gave me the fortitude to engage my boots with the skis again and slide on down a few more runs until I came to another steeper icier spot. The lighting was bad. I did mention it was late in the afternoon and I could no longer see the slope even with my goggles. There was nothing to do but to take the skis off again. I made the decision to walk all the way down to the bottom of the mountain and decided to just enjoy the walk. A walk in the snow is beautiful. I am mature enough with my decision to not even feel embarrassed by it. It bothered me not that other skiers were flying past me on the very green ‘Easy Way Down’. I got into stride as though I were hiking, miserable with every step as I carried the heavy skis and poles, helmet and goggles crushing down on my face, jacket warming up to 1000 degrees farenheit, neck gaiter heating up like it was electric. I will tell you this, it is impossible to shed any of these warm winter clothing items while bearing skis and poles, trying to stride upright in heavy cement boots down a 90 degree icy slope. The further I walked, the hotter I became and I don’t mean in my level of cuteness. Alas I made it to the base of the hill. I should have felt defeated and embarrassed but instead I felt I had made the best decision for myself at the time. Fear had taken over. I was terrified, too terrified to move, too terrified to do the ‘s’ turns that I know how to do very well. I learned that when terror and fear grip you to the point of no return, you choose another way to get down the mountain but you still get down the mountain. This Is not to say that I’d throw my normal coping mechanisms out the window because despite my experience today, they really do work and I have seen them work wonders in the past. You see I am an overcomer but I have not completely overcome yet. I am in the process of healing from an abusive marriage and sometimes like today something triggers my fears and that’s ok. I still have to face my fears but I don’t always have to be the champion. I don’t always have to be the strong one. Sometimes just sometimes it’s ok to take off my skis and walk down the mountain. You see when you’re healing, it’s ok to allow the weak spots of your body or soul to take a step down and heal. So whatever you’re dealing with, whatever fears you haven’t conquered yet, don’t beat yourself up over it. If you have to hold your skis and poles and trudge down the mountains while others fly past you, hold your head high and trudge down it the best you can. Enjoy the journey, every minute of it. I never paid more attention to the beauty of the mountain than when I was trudging slowly down it and I was never warmer than when I was trudging slowly down it. So see, giving in to your fears is not all bad all the time. That being said, I pulled myself back up out of it the next day and faced them again. I found a hill to practice on and went out like a champ, making some beautiful ‘s’ turns on my last run of the day triumphantly flying down the bunny slope! Changing your mindset, mind over matter, controlling your breathing, all of these things work magnificently to reduce fear if you have the presence of mind to think to use them, but if you don’t, then you pop off those skis and start walking baby! You’ll get there eventually. After all, it’s not so much about the destination as it is the journey, right? I hope your journeys are filled with wonder, delight, fear and bravery for without fear there is no bravery.
Yours for Happier Nurses,