Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fear Itself

With the new year, rather than make any sort of resolution, I asked myself to be more aware of my fear. If I also prove to be a bit braver, that'll be great, but first, I just wanted to acknowledge fear.

I'm a bold person. You wouldn't immediately recognize my fears. I'm not afraid of people or performing or heights. Many people see me as courageous, outspoken.

But I have a not-so-public fear.

What I am afraid of is hypoglycemia.

You wouldn't know it to look at my raw data. I don't run myself intentionally higher. I have to deal with hypoglycemia at least once a day. On days when I travel, as many as 5 times in a single day.
24hrs of travel: low, low, low, low, looooooow, followed by high.
It's not fear of the unfamiliar then, surely.

It's fear of losing total control.

For the first time ever, two weeks ago, I put two little people in a stroller and walked a mile to the park. Played. Walked a mile back. I'd never been brave enough to do that before. Not even with one kid.

I also took them to the zoo. Downtown. And I even peeled off on my own from the group I was with. I a regular mom. I can't describe it. I felt like the mom I must look like from the outside. The one who is just pushing the double stroller over to the elephants. And not the one who is furiously contemplating all the scenarios where her blood sugar is low but her phone is lost or the battery is dead or her daughter runs and no one can help her. I felt relaxed in a way I've never felt with my kids alone in public.
In San Francisco, after dealing with my fourth low of the day, I stuffed my pockets with glucose and boarded a city bus - alone - to go meet up with some friends. And by the time I got there, I was on low number 5. I might have done that before, since I didn't have the kids in tow, but I wouldn't have considered it brave. Foolhardy maybe. This time, it boosted my confidence.

All of my hypoglycemia fears boil down to the fact that it takes me completely out of myself in a moment where I need to be there.

Imagine this. You're a detail person. You memorize your route. You know the city. You know the transit schedule. You've planned your whole trip. Where you'll eat. What you'll wear. You even remembered an umbrella. But at ANY moment, you're going to find yourself suddenly drunk and alone and have to figure out what you were doing and where you were going. Suddenly you will realize that you can't speak English. And your legs won't work. You don't know when it will happen. Or how many times.

You can prepare. But you can't really prepare. Because it's Drunk Version of you who is going to bring you back safely. Like the character in Memento, you leave yourself clues (and glucose), but you don't know if you'll be able to decipher them (or open the package, or if you'll have enough to come up the fifth time).

So that's three things I've done already this year that I would have been more fearful of doing last year.

Did fear stop me? No. But I can think of times where it didn't stop me before. And no one knew I was thinking these things.

Did fear overwhelm me though? No.

And that makes all the difference.
Watching the Lions


  1. Melissa, I really love this post.

    Not only because I can identify with the fear, but also because I can identify with the fact that we can't count on ourselves to think straight when our lives depend on it.

    Thank you.

  2. You really are my hero. It's not that heroes have no fear, because not having fear makes you stupid & not brave. Pushing through WITH that fear is what makes you a hero. You really do make this look easy. The fact that I know it's NOT easy, makes me love you even more. :)