I was a fear junky.
When I googled the term “junky” it read: a person hopelessly addicted to a controlled substance.
My drug of choice was fear.
I became addicted to fear after a passionate fight and murder attempt by what seemed like the “perfect” relationship in my teens; I was nearly paralyzed and had to re-learn how to walk. Undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder, I’m certain.
I unconsciously looked for fear everywhere. The sweaty, heart-racing toxic electricity that would infiltrate my being and erode my mind would tap me on the shoulder at the most unlikely times—while driving, sitting in a restaurant—even sitting at my computer with a headache—I would find myself on self-diagnosing medical websites trying to track down the source of my brain tumor…I mean, headache.
Fear was almost comforting; it kept me from trying anything new. If I read horrible stories in the news, I saw it as being pro-active—I was safe in my fear-bubble.
Like any junky, I hit bottom.
I was starting to rely on others to take me places and was beginning to avoid leaving the house; at 25 years old, this was not the existence I had imagined nor wanted for myself.
After a very brief experience with an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), I realized that I had a lot of work to do; I felt that simply taking a pill was like putting a band aid on a gun shot wound. I found myself reading about and finally pursuing healing of in the vein of spirituality and mind-body connectedness. I found a therapist that was a Reiki master and practiced Buddhism.
She did not reveal any of this to me until I showed an interest in that path; she helped me realize that only when I could train my mind to think new thoughts would my body follow.
I began to actively practice three things:
I found that when I spoke my fears by name, said them out loud, their power diminished greatly. It was almost like putting a clown hat on my demons. They somehow weren’t so horrifying anymore. Speaking out has tremendous power. We then feel compelled to…do something.
When I was learning to meditate, I was taught to label my thoughts. When I found my mind wondering I would simply label my thoughts as “thinking.” Labeling seemed to offer a level of detachment. When I find those old demons knocking, and that churning feeling begins to bubble up in my gut I label it, “fear.” I label and observe my visceral reaction to these thoughts. What is this feeling? “Fear.”
The detachment begins and most of the time, I can just…stop.
Get a Life
Through all of my discoveries, I realized how much time I devoted to my fear. I was worrying about the fear itself. “What if I have an anxiety attack?” was the eternal question in planning anything. It consumed me and it kept me as a full time addict that was constantly trying to procure her next dose—I was planning for fear in my daily life.
In Bikram yoga, we learn “ don’t think, just do it.” So…I did. I began to practice Reiki on myself, got certified in level II Reiki healing, engaged in regular guided meditations with my therapist to learn how to calm my breath and clear my thoughts. Eventually, I filled my life with…well…life.
I practice Bikram yoga and actually embrace my fears. Back bending against the resistance of a steel metal rod in my spine is a challenge and a fear that I stab in the face at every yoga session.
I’ve accepted who I am, and from time-to-time, that jolt of sewage still pulsates through my veins. Like touching exposed wire with wet hands, I begin to be thrown across the room by it.
Only now, I look at how it awakens me, rather than let it control me. It just reminds me that I have to dig deeper. Now, I look at this fear as a gift allowing me to see the areas of my life where more work needs to be done.
I greet it, but refuse to let it take up residence in my house—it is a visitor offering perspective, offering the honesty that I do not want.
I now let this pulsating pull of fear propel me; I breathe deeply and acknowledge it, and then…ascend.
I have befriended my fear.
The anticipation used to cripple me and now I am the one in control.
It took a very long time, but I’ve conquered this demon; it’s a clown hat that now has big red clown shoes to match.
Nicole Markardt is recovering fear junky. She am an educator, mother of two, and aspiring yogi. Certified as a leveI II Reiki healer, Nicole is a firm believer in the power of the mind-body connection. Nicole has a blog called Peace, Love & Practice for doyouyoga.com.
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Assistant Ed: Sarah Winner/Ed: Bryonie Wise