Fear: Flames & Flickers

Hi everyone,

I have been making progress lately, and it’s been really good! I still have fears for the future that range in intensity but luckily there’s hope as well…

I’m trying to be more aware and grateful of the progress I’ve made. This means tallying my accomplishments so I can realize how far I’ve come.

One major accomplishment is the progress I’ve made with my fears and fear-based behaviors. It used to be that a person physically passing too close to me, or even looking like they weren’t paying attention in my vicinity would set me off. At home or out of the house it didn’t matter, the fear was raging, massive, and consuming. Now I’m still apprehensive when someone approaches me in certain ways, but it doesn’t immediately set me off in flames the way it used to.

I may have mentioned before that my dogs have been able to lick my leg recently without me crying. That is a huge thing. A big part of being able to tolerate something like that was to let them try. I let my dogs on my bed again. It was exposure therapy essentially. Slow exposure to things that really sucked so eventually through hard work, dedication, and luck they started to suck less. I have to say that there are different conditions that “exposure therapy” is used for. I know there’s a lot of research on it, it’s not appropriate for everybody, and it can be done very wrong but I’ve had success with my version of it.

As far as dog progress goes, I’ve even been stepped on lately and I didn’t scream out in pain. It still really sucked, and it spiked my pain but it’s the best it’s been for years!

There was a point where hugs were causing me far more pain than joy. Hugs can still be difficult, and I can’t do them all the time. Do you know what that means though? It means some of the time I can hug!

I renewed my driver’s license. I was able to stand in line at the registry. Yes, you read that right. Stand. In. Line. I did that. Operating a motor vehicle again hasn’t happened yet, but it’s legal for me now! In case you were wondering, I am medically cleared to drive and have my family doctor’s support.

To say working on this is hard is an understatement of epic proportions. Tallying my accomplishments seems to be hard work too. I think that’s normal when there’s still a lot of ground to be covered.

Imagine being in so much pain and being so sensitive that even the thought of contact can make you break down. Imagine trying to claw your way back while not knowing if it will ever happen. Now imagine you manage to make some progress, but you’ve only done the approach hike and haven’t even started to climb the mountain. Progress is amazing, but fear doesn’t go away overnight. It rarely disappears completely, there seems to be a flicker of fear no matter how much progress is accomplished.

I’m just trying to get closer to a flicker than to the raging flame.




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