Fear - What scared you in 2011 more than anything else? Did you learn anything new about yourself?
Prompt courtesy of Geekin’ Hard
It takes a lot of guts to write about this, because even writing about this causes my throat to close.
I don’t think scared even begins to describe it. Which is why I feel compelled to write about it: I believe communication and reaching out are two factors in squashing fear. Add that to what has been an annual sharing of vulnerability and intimacy…well, these are the two most important aspects of the Reverb process for me, so here goes:
When I got the phone call, I literally stopped breathing. I could not speak. My throat began to close and held tight bindings over my voice for at least a week, but actually the most recent experience with my throat closing over my voice was less than a week ago.
My worst nightmare came true: that is what happened.
I started the day well: volunteering my day for an important school district committee. My children are the most important thing to me, so helping schools improve is a top priority for me. I dropped the children at school and off I went.
That afternoon, before I went to pick them up, I received that phone call and my worst nightmare began.
A custody battle began. Four days without speaking to my children, touching my children, laughing with my children, nagging my children, helping my children with homework, encouraging my children had started, although at the time of the phone call, I had no idea how long I would have to endure this separation.
The love I have for my children is similar to most people, I suppose: it is infinite, unending and they are the primary focus of my choices. The thought of losing them fills me with horror.
My first child died before she was born because the cord wrapped around her neck. Before you jump in saying, “This wasn’t your fault!” know that on an intellectual level I have known this for the almost twenty-two years it has been. Underneath the intellect though is that still there, “I should have done better. I was the sole protector of my child and she died. I failed at Mothering.”
This magnifies my absolute worst fear.
After the initial shock wore off, I started calling my closest friends for assistance, advice and mostly just presence. Each phone call I made caused my throat to close again. It was difficult to squeak out the words. Each time a friend appeared at my door, my throat opened more.
Four days after the war and separation began, it ended. My children and I were re-united.
We all ended up in therapy.
Samuel the least lengthy time, but Emma and I are continuing probably for a long haul.
Incidents like this don’t just “go out of my mind.” I have flashbacks regularly. Words that were said, phone calls back and forth continue to boomerang back into my inner ear. Then there are the threats, accusations, nights with very little sleep, not eating for most of those four days return from time to time.
I learned a lot about myself through this process. I learned my friends here in Bakersfield are, indeed, my family. I have been known to say I feel like I live on a deserted island here, my family is all so far from me both emotionally and geographically. I learned these dear friends will drop everything and come to my side. On the final day before my kids were back in my arms, I had what is perhaps the most severe meltdown of my life.
I scared myself with my shrieking, my crying, my choking.
My calm friends held me up and through those moments of despair. I remember this quote from Anne Morrow Lindbergh: "When the heart is flooded with love there is no room in it for fear, for doubt, for hesitation."
I have also learned through Reverb11 that my entire year has not been encapsulated in those four days. Until just recently, it was similar to any other day of infamy, only this one was entirely personal.
I am seeing my therapist today. He is remarkable and so not what I would have chosen. Like so many other life experiences, being present and in the moment brings so many gifts, even those that certainly don’t look like gifts at the time.
This weekend we went to Dana Point, where I went to high school. My parents still own a home which they, unfortunately, rent out. We experienced such bliss. We laughed throughout much of the day. By the time we were almost back in Bakersfield my cheeks hurt from smiling and laughing so much.
I’ll gladly take that kind of pain each and every time.
I don’t think I would have grown so much this year without living through this fear. When I hear people say they don’t want to have any fear in their lives, a part of me grimaces. Fear is a gift. It is such a blessing when we allow it space to do its work. Please sit a moment with this idea. Consider retrospective reflection.
My head ached and every muscle in my body seized from pain those four days in October.
My face hurt two nights ago from laughing and smiling all day.
Both have been significant aspects of my journey. The former is not something I want to repeat, but it was a huge teacher and guide to me. For that, I am grateful.
I am Julie Jordan Scott ~ and this is one of my Reverb11 posts. This year, the Reverb Community is taking an individualized approach to this life changing initiative. I am answering several prompts a day in short snippets during either a 30 minute or 60 minute wordsprint. I look forward to reading other Reverb11ers writing & if you are unfamiliar, just use the prompt and use the #reverb11 hashtag on twitter. You'll have a blast!
Follow me on Twitter: @JulieJordanScot
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Julie Jordan Scott