I was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Wyatt the other night and instead of reading from years of muscle memory, I really read it. And you know how it goes, there’s this caterpillar and it is very hungry and it eats everything it possibly can and then it goes to take a good long nap in a cocoon and then it comes out as a beautiful butterfly. It’s sweet and basic, which is why I was surprised when I had a pretty strong response to it. I mean, I started crying. Like, actually crying. I just suddenly felt so so so scared for this butterfly, which made me then realize that of course I was feeling scared for me.
Dang kids’ books.
The take away was that I am not very honest with myself about my fears. In fact, I even tell myself that I’m not afraid of much, that I’ve been through a lot, and that I can handle big life stuff. And, so, I have concocted this idea that if I am afraid of something, it needs to be profound and I need to dress it up in quotable tinkerings and usher them out to the world with dots connected.
Alas, fear—true fear—prefers the basics, the fundamentals. It prefers courageous transparency and zero apologies. In fact, I’m starting to understand that my fear just wants to be named for what it is. Doing anything other than that just means that I end up circling the dragon. I do everything else other than deal with the actual issue.
So, I’ll use this post to simply name a current pressing fear of mine, without costume or courtesy: I am scared to put myself to sleep at a decent bedtime and become a rested human.
There it is.
Sure, there’s more here. Yes, this is connected to the dangers of being visible, of spreading my wings, etc. But, I have looked at all those things at length for a long time now and it hasn’t scratched the itch. So, when I boil it down to the nuts and bolts, I can see that these bigger things are connected to the base fear of tucking myself in at night and shutting things down for rest. You know, the cocoon.
As I was thinking about this blog and how to undress this topic, I kept coming back to an image of my former fish, all of whom died in The Texas Freeze last February. When we first got the tank, I was like no no no no no. I fed them, but refused to look or spend time or get connected. I somehow knew that if I did, I would fall in love with these fragile creatures and their wild ecosystem. And, of course, this is what happened. I especially fell in love with the snails, which you may know because I have definitely already written about them. A lot.
But, then, The Freeze. They didn’t survive, not a single one and not a tiny bit of their ecosystem. I felt terrible for not having a backup heating system. For not having a way to keep them warmer. And having to dunk the tank out in the backyard with these sweet friends was crushing. I still get emotional about it, honestly. And they were fish and snails and things that aren’t pettable pets. But, wow.
The truth here is that I bonded with them, I became attached. I took really good care of them. So, their deaths felt rough. I think this must be underneath how scary it feels to tuck myself in at night. If I take better care of myself, if I grow attached to this body of mine, if I befriend it, then I also become more aware of my mortality. There’s something about always being tired and always being burned out that keeps me on the other side of the fish tank glass. I don’t have to swim in the unknown, I just keep going and going and going and going.
Being rested, on the other hand, is tethered to healing, to knowing, to saying no to myself and others, to not always being in control, to not always being a hero, and to being healthy. And if I am healthy, then I feel like there is a lot more to lose.
I’m going to stop there because it’s a lot to think about. And, also it’s not. I just need to tuck myself in and create some change in this fear of mine. Give it a big hug and let it know that we’re going to lead it a different way. And for this, well, I need some help. Which is why this month’s October Challenge is exactly the right one: The What Scares You Challenge. We are so fortunate to be led this month by our talented and insightful member, Isabelle Wright, as we learn about fear and we take some steps to naming and loving it.
You can register now for the challenge, which starts on Monday, October 4th and you have through that day to grab your spot. If you are a current member, you simply login in at MommaStrong.com, then click on the “Challenges” link in the teal navigation bar. If you are not yet a member, you can join by signing up for a membership with MommaStrong and then follow the instructions above. And, hey, you have 14 days free after you sign up, so basically half the scary month is on us. OH, and bring a friend, which is made super easy because you can actually gift them the challenge (see at the bottom of the Challenges page).
Ok. I shall see you in the cocoon, I mean challenge. Night night.