I’m frenemies with fear, and have been for my entire life.
Every part of this definition incisively describes my lifelong relationship with fear, with the exception of describing fear as a person. Also, I would replace the word “friendly” with “familiar,” but other than that, razor sharp accuracy. Although I suppose everyone feels this way about fear. And as much as I hate to admit it, the term “friendly” in some ways is in fact accurate, because I would not be a goddess without fear as my “friend”…I just threw up in my mouth a little, but it’s true.
When I was a young child a.k.a. a goddess-in-the-making, I experienced varying levels of intense, traumatic, and debilitating fear on a fairly regular basis. My mother was an active alcoholic and her behavior on any given day or night was unpredictable. She could go days, weeks, and even months on end without an episode, but would inevitably relapse. This uncertainty is said to be one of the most traumatizing environments to exist in, since there is virtually never any peace. You can never relax and you are always on watch for the next disaster. A steady flow of anxiety exists within the body, mind, and spirit, with never a moment’s relief–even during those times when things seem happy and joyful. One is always on edge, and always expecting the worst. And eventually, the worst always circles back again, solidifying the reason for being afraid during the interim. I was trained to be terrified on a constant, second-by-second basis, and have had to work my entire life to live in a way that enables joy, growth, expansion, and freedom from fear. I’m still working on it, but I have come a long way. My art has also been an integral part of my healing journey.
Urbanscape IX, mixed media on canvas, 24″ x 36″ 2010 © Libby Saylor. This painting is from my Urbanscape Series and was created in an attempt to heal the trauma from my childhood. During the time of the making of this series, I was not on speaking terms with my mother (for a total of three years) and when this series was complete, we had healed our relationship and continued on our loving journey until her death in 2017. Each painting is a scene from a house I lived in during childhood and attempts to extract and illustrate the most tactile of memories. Through paint, I essentially relived all of my traumatic feelings, room by room, house by house, and turned those dark feelings into something beautiful and transformed. I often used bright blue skies in each scape, representing a symbol of my unrest, with each blue sky contrasted by sinister crows and harsh looking power lines. This imagery represents my constant feelings of anxiety during childhood, looking out of the car window on a sunny summer day, seeing children and families happy and excited to be alive and playing. These scenes of happy people always felt mocking to me because I was seeing with my eyes that it was supposed to be a joyful and happy time, and yet I could not escape my life and my situation. Even a bright beautiful sky could not save me from the fear and circumstances in my life. So, the sky became a stinging reminder of what I didn’t have. To this day, I deeply dislike summer and sunny days, and I have kind of a love/hate relationship with blue skies–I mean, they are kinda purty.
However, I’ll take the one on the right, over the one on the left, any day.
I have overcome many, many debilitating fears in my life, but I still have a handful that are deeply triggering. I’m embarrassed to say that whenever any of these items below come into my life, I am always thoroughly rocked, riddled, and emotionally crippled by the fear energy that courses through my body and seizes my mind.
In no particular order…
- Water bugs (the big prehistoric kind, although I haven’t seen any in awhile and may have slightly overcome this one)
- Loved ones choking
- Public speaking (only in some forms, and I can handle others quite well)
- Health scares and any kind of illness or sickness in general
- Technology issues, outages, lapses
About two weeks ago, I had my first scare in my new apartment (first-time cohabitation with my amazing partner) when I sleepily stumbled into the bathroom at around 3:30am and saw a ghost of dark movement along the corridor of the room. To this day, we don’t know for sure if this was a mouse, or just my eyes playing tricks on me. But I’m still a bit traumatized from the mouse scare of February 2020 in my former apartment, and this to me was a bit like reliving it. My partner had seen me go through the waves of debilitating fear and trauma in reaction to this (actual) mouse back in February, and we both agreed that this was a fairly extreme reaction, even though, you can’t help what you’re terrified of, you know? However, after the mouse ghost of July 2020, I made a decision to handle this trauma more like a goddess and less like a frightened little child. It’s actually quite traumatic in and of itself to carry the fear energy from childhood into an adult body. The adult body is far less equipped to process that fear energy and my body takes a toll if I let myself spiral too intensely. I just don’t want to do that anymore, even if I see a mouse. I haven’t seen an actual mouse or even a ghost mouse since, so let’s just say that I survived that scare without much of a hitch. However, this scare did act as a barometer for where I’m currently at with my fear in general. I think I’m getting better.
I pulled these cards just after I saw Ghost Mouse. The goddesses also reinforced and validated my resolution to handle fear the way they would. Left: Mother Mary/Miracles (I am safe, I am loved, shifts in perspective can happen in an instant). Middle: Morrighan/Death and Magic (the end of a cycle, letting go of old patterns to make room for new growth). Right: Mama Qocha/Water (let things flow, let life flow, let the fear flow through the body and be a witness to it rather than getting sucked up in it)
Several days later, my Tribe and I began our Tribal Council weekend via Zoom (cue the wah wah). This will be the third year that my Tribe has planned a weekend getaway in the beautiful Pennsylvania woods (Airbnb style), celebrating our friendship, good food, fun times, and with each of us leading some kind of spiritual workshop for the entire group. This weekend is always profound, joy-filled, and momentous, and we literally look forward to it all year long. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, we decided as a group that it would be best and safest to cancel our trip and conduct an abridged gathering via Zoom. We each conducted a spiritual workshop and made the best of missing each other as best we could.
Drawing of my aura by one of my beloved tribe members. I look like a goddess, do I not?
Beloved tribe member’s drawing of one of her animal spirit guides, discovered during a fairy workshop led by this Goddess Attainable (me).
One of our Zoom sessions, working on our Danielle LaPorte Desire Map workshop.
On the day following our beautiful Tribal Council Weekend, for whatever reason, I decided that I needed to become incredibly and instantly alarmed about a suspicious spot that had formed around and inside a portion of my navel about a year ago. I already had a teletherapy session scheduled with my dermatologist at the end of the month, but I had to reschedule due to some work conflicts. So, since I had to contact her to reschedule, I decided to send her some pics of this suspicious spot. And as I contorted my navel to get an accurate photograph, I began to wonder if this was actually something serious. After a few minutes of closely inspecting the spot and the photograph, I was off to the races! The Race of Fear, featuring: Insanity, Anxiety, Projection, Debilitation, and Terror, all competing against one another for the grand prize of I Don’t Know What. I’m not saying that this particular issue is nothing to be afraid of, but the realm of fear that I find myself catapulted into, within such a short amount of time, is simply unsustainable. It’s just not working for me anymore. Being afraid about something potentially life-threatening sucks, it really does, and there is no getting around it. But taking things one step at a time and obtaining facts in a calm and rational way is the healthiest, most goddess-like way to go.
My typical fear response from just examining this spot on my body and forming my own conclusions would include: heart racing, emotional and explosive terror bowel movements, crying, trembling, and inconsolable emotional states for long periods of time. It’s as if a tiger, or my drunk mother, was in the room with me. It’s the same energy, just triggered by different things. However, my atypical response this time, was to remain calm (my heart was still racing and I MIGHT have had to use the toilet in an urgent kind of way), and to take responsibility like a goddess.
- I spoke to my doctor immediately
- I set up an appointment for a biopsy, per her recommendation (it’s one thing to be scared of a fake mouse, but it’s quite another when your doctor is also concerned, just sayin’)
- Trying to stay as calm as possible until I have the results
Divine timing is an amazing thing. On the exact same day as the goddess, mouse-fear-processing, oracle reading from above, I received the first of a series of virtual teachings from a Qigong workshop I had signed up for the previous week. This workshop is taught by Steven Washington, through his husband’s online platform Lee Harris Energy. I’ve gained so much from Lee’s meditations and videos and I am currently loving Steven’s Qigong workshop. It was only $69 for multiple sessions to download and keep for life, as well as bonus videos, worksheets, and a membership to Lee Harris Energy. I’m typically pretty skeptical of paying for these kinds of things, but this is an incredibly good deal and coming from what seems like a place of genuine service.
Some benefits of Qigong…
Image obtained from here.
Also, if you follow my blog, you may know that I began my commitment to meditation on/around June 19, 2020. After years and years of avoiding mindfulness practices, I felt compelled to begin two practices within several weeks of one another. Then mouse. Then navel/skin cancer health scare, within days!
Upon discovering the spot, although I felt all the familiar emotions of terror begin to take over, I noticed that perhaps for the first time ever, after being triggered, my body and emotions did not spiral to the extent they have always in the past. And now that I think about it, during the week of the ghost mouse, we had also experienced a torrential downpour for an entire 12 hours and our internet was caput. My partner and I spent a total of six days without internet and endured the challenges of trying to get work done from home and dealing with our internet service provider, all while both approaching the issue in polar opposite ways. When I typically have a very, very short fuse when it comes to things like this, I am proud to say that through those six days I was loving to my partner, patient with his process, kind to all customer service employees, and even when being assertive, expressed calm patience in the face of deep frustration and triggering fear. During this time, my partner and I agreed that my behavior was noticeably improved and we attributed this welcomed change to my recent commitment to meditation. There seems to be no other explanation. It felt like a literal miracle.
So now, in my current state of deep and disturbing fear in the face of potential illness, I am in the midst of again managing my anxiety in a new way. The Way of The Goddess. During that first day of fear, I pulled a few goddess cards throughout the day, and happened to pull this one twice. Whenever that happens, you must pay attention. Out of 52 cards and shuffling multiple times, to pull the same card twice means The Goddesses want you to know they mean business. Don’t discount this as a coincidence. Pay attention and trust.
From the Goddess Power Oracle deck by Colette Baron-Reid. Card meaning: Your intimate relationship with the invisible world is being called upon right now as you enter unfamiliar environments and situations. It’s time to commune with the Great Goddess, the aspect of the conscious universe in her most collaborative form. The world then becomes your oracle as it opens up and communicates everything you need in the form of signs, omens, and messages. Now is the time to pay attention to synchronicities and those moments when logic and reason fail to give you the full picture. The Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar reminds you of the time in her ancient temples when her priestesses served as oracles, communing with the Goddess and imparting wisdom to the people who sought guidance. Look at everything in your life as an opportunity for communion, losing the need for self-centeredness, connecting to Source in a sacred intimate way. You will not pray on your knees as a supplicant. You engage the Great Goddess as a partner in co-creation, participating in the making of worlds. No one needs to rescue you when you act empowered, aware and awake to the wondrous miracle you’re part of.
I love this card and I love that it came up twice in one day. This was also the first card I pulled when I originally opened the deck, and in that moment, I felt such a connection with these powerful, amazing beings. I felt a part of their circle of love and power and I felt as if they were welcoming me into their world, pleased to share with me their wisdom. Pulling this card during this difficult time, to me, means that I have their support and they are rooting for me to work through this challenge as a goddess would. They’ve assured me I have nothing to be afraid of, even if there are challenges ahead, and that I will ultimately and always be okay.
I am also lucky enough to have the most amazing, loving, and supportive partner. After I spotted the spot, I discussed with him my plan of action and then sat with him while I chatted out my feelings. Granted, he’s a licensed therapist, so he’s better at this than most people. He listened and offered empowering feedback, and at one point, which he has done in the past during other non-goddess moments of debilitating fear, he asked me, “What would the goddesses say?” I always appreciate this redirection and felt instant relief thinking about the goddesses and their support. Just a note that if you are on a path and feel lost, afraid, and confused, be sure to make one of your goals in life to find a deeply loving and supportive companion and/or partner. Things always felt so much more difficult and frightening when I was single, and now that I am no longer without mate, I feel so much less terrified. Even when things are terrifying, they are less terrifying to go through them with someone else. It doesn’t hurt that my partner also held me and reassured me that, “We will get through this together,” and “You are not alone.” Thank you!
Over the last 48 hours, I have also been repeating the phrase, “Chop wood, carry water,” over and over again. I picked up this saying from Colette Baron-Reid who mentions this many times in her oracle decks.
Image obtained from here.
I think this phrase seems to mean many different things to many different people, and can be interpreted in various ways. For me, this phrase is very grounding. When I’m in my head and stuck, fixated on the anxious sensations within my body, “Chop wood, carry water,” reminds me to just stay present. One of the best ways to stay present is to focus on a simple task. The evening of the spot discovery, I just didn’t even know how I was going to make it through the night in one piece, knowing my tendencies for fear spiraling, even though I had successfully avoided a fear spiral up until that point. But the nights are always the scariest. However, I decided to just perform a menial task. I had items to package and mail to the members of my tribe and it involved several steps of wrapping and labeling and securing packages. I dove right in and just kept myself busy, all the while, still very present with my thoughts. It was not an avoidance or a distraction, but instead a way to channel my energy into something useful, something meditative, and something calming. “Chopping wood and carrying water,” is quite a spiritual idea and entertains the notion of finding peace within a ritual. In many ways, this is what rituals are for. They are familiar, repetitive, and symbolic, and often form a connective bridge between something earthly and something more sacred and heavenly. This phrase has been meeting all of my needs for the moment and I am grateful for it.
I contemplated whether or not to create and share this post now, or to wait until all was well, biopsy done and results negative. But I really don’t know what is going to happen or how things are going to go, and so much has happened even up until this point, in terms of goddess growth, so I’m choosing to share, in the midst of all of it, and will keep you updated on how things unfold.
As Fiona Apple says, “It’s calm under the waves, in the blue of my oblivion.” Not sure EXACTLY what this means, but I’ve always found it empowering and very honest. Wish me luck, until next time!
Image obtained from here.
**Results came back negative/benign on August, 6, 2020, coincidentally (or synchronistically) on the same day as my 2-year anniversary with my partner. Yay!**