While walking my dog mid day on Summer Solstice, I was chased, cornered and attacked by a deer.
I saw her alongside the road and as she took a step towards me I immediately crossed the street giving her a width girth of room. Unfortunately when I looked back, she had bowed her shaking head and started to stomp her hooves in preparation of charging.
I thought to myself: “there‘s no way I’m going to out run this deer.”
So while wearing flip flops and clutching at my dog’s leash, I ran towards a nearby house and jumped onto its small concrete 4×4 landing thinking I would no longer be a threat.
I was wrong.
Instead, she came charging onto the bottom step, reared up on her back legs, and threw her hooves towards my body.
Her huge head and fierce brown eyes were less than an arm’s length away as I thought to myself: “Seriously? This is how I’m going to die?”
Her snorts were drowned out by my screams as I felt the force of her hooves skimming the small space between us while pinned against the front door.
Suddenly my dog wriggled out of her harness and took off. In slow motion, I watched the deer turn, chase, knock down and trample my dog Bella.
I ran towards them screaming as Bella got up and ran with the deer in fast pursuit. Suddenly a man appeared out of no where and shouted for me to call my dog’s name. I called and watched as she turned and ran towards me with the deer behind her.
This amazing man, a true hero in my book, stepped between the deer and my dog long enough for me to grab her collar and run to the next house.
I laid in bed that first night of summer with teeth chattering and legs twitching in primal trauma release. I drifted in and out of sleep gratefully holding my dog, kissing her ears and shaking from head to toe as the trauma left my body.
I’m told 13 people have died this year from deer attacks.
Native American medicine teaches the deer is about gentleness. I learned a different lesson from that deer.
In the instant of her attack, I was more in the moment than I’d ever been in life. I was fully present.
Like everyone on the planet, I’d gone through a few scary situations in life.
Years ago I was hit by a car and gave up on my road bike. A while ago I went through a break up and stopped dating. Even more humiliating, I almost died two years ago and stopped trusting my body’s strength and health.
I let fear shut me down and slowly strangle the life right out of me. I stopped taking risks and stopped exploring the world around me as I let fear control my life.
I’m betting over the years you’ve shut down yourself down too.
My turning point?
Something primal kicked in when I faced my own death in such violent way.
I thought I was doing the safest activity in the world: walking my dog, and yet I was almost killed.
Something changed in the moment I held eye contact with that angry deer. I felt a life force blast through me and I embodied a primal determination never before experienced. I felt activated and alive.
My acupuncturist says my adrenals were finally used in the way they were designed instead of how I had used them daily: through fear, worry and stress.
If we’re not careful, fear comes into our life and multiplies like a virus.
A friend shared with me that humans are born with only two natural fears. The fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Everything else is learned behavior.
For me, fear had wrapped her sticky black tail around my neck and strangled the hopes coming from my heart before they could be heard by my head.
Fear had multiplied to the point that I was a mere shadow of who I used to be.
Luckily, a crystal clear clarity came over me the day after the attack.
Realizing I had stopped living a long time ago, I felt a powerful rage rise up inside me, a hot anger towards all the ways I’d let fear run my world.
I burnt sage and purified my home after realizing everything in my world had been tinged with fear. The light timers I set to prevent break-ins, the clothes I bought to look attractive, the vitamins I took to ward off diseases, the food I bought in hopes of staying healthy, the communication patterns I used to be liked, even the activities I participated in to feel safe.
My entire life was rooted in fear.
If doing the safest activity in the world: walking my dog, could have almost killed me, I was going to live large from this point forward.
I decided to roll my dice and bet it all on life again. I’d still eat well, take vitamins and set light timers, but the energy behind those activities would be different.
From now on, I’m giving up fear.
I’m hoping you’ll join me.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta