Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Fulfillment of Fear

This morning I watched Regis and Kelly (Bryant Gumbel and Kelly today, as Regis is off on another mysterious assignment). During their pre-wheel banter, the subject of Kelly's many fears came up. It turns out her mother instilled a fear of ice skating, house fires, and others in Kelly at a young age. And rather than feeling protected, she now has an encumbering fear of many different situations.

All of this made me think of the way that I was brought up. We did not go to parks or to other childrens' houses -- my mother brought us to play once or twice with her friends' children, but there was no contact with them after the visit was over. At home, we were sent out into the yard to play and were fearless at rolling ourselves down hills, climbing trees, exploring our environment and generally being creative kids. However, perhaps being overwhelmed with six children, there was a lack of instruction in many basic skills. We were never taught how to ride bicycles, swim, skate, even play with other children outside our family. We went on precisely one family vacation in my childhood. It wasn't that we had a miserable childhood, but we missed so many of the simple experiences that help children get to know the world around them, see how they fit into it, how to manage their interactions with their environment. Increasing the trouble, as we grew older, we were moved to increasingly remote, rural areas and kept sheltered and protected from the world around us.

And we grew up seeing our parents' fear. For my father it was fear of failure, fear of being made to look foolish, and other ego based fears. For my mother it was fear of elevators, mice, flying, and fears of other circumstances when she felt out of control. In both cases, the fears were crippling and life altering -- for me, their fears are frost on the windows through which they see the world. It holds back their view and keeps them quietly inside.

Growing up in a house with so many frosted windows makes them seem natural in mine. I don't feel safer as a result of the way I was brought up, I feel more vulnerable to the things I may encounter that I won't know how to manage. I have to fight every day to try to keep the windows to my life from being frosted over. I do it when I sit still as a bee buzzes around my head, I do it when I take driving lessons, I do it when I walk into a room of strangers and struggle to catch my breath and calm my heart. I know that I will be doing it for the rest of my life. And as I feel my fear bubble then freeze, I know that I will try to do the opposite for my daughter, giving her as many new experiences and teaching her as many skills as I can, so she can move through this world in ways freer than I can dream.


At 8/09/2005 10:15 PM, Blogger Michele said...

Stopping by to say hello....

This post is truly inspirational. For a moment I was drawn into your world and understood how a frosted window view could be so limiting - and yet so motivating. You have indeed allwed it to motivate how your daughter is raised and that is so very inspiring.

You are a wonderful writer. Simply wonderful. Thank you for stopping by my site - it allowed me the chance to discover your site.

At 8/09/2005 10:49 PM, Blogger celeste said...

"...their fears are frost on the windows through which they saw the world." -- That is a fabulous analogy. I struggle with my own irrational fears--of flying, of losing control. There always seems to be a "what-if", but slowly I'm overcoming.. I often medidate on the following verses: "If God is for us, who can be against us"--Romans 8:31. and also "...with God all things are possible."--Matthew 26:19.

At 8/10/2005 10:38 PM, Blogger Laura GF said...

Thank you, Michele and Celeste. I'm glad that this post meant something to you and it means a lot to me to get feedback here!

At 8/12/2005 11:39 AM, Anonymous Pearl said...

Hello from Michele's meet and greet.

I can relate to what you say. My parents were both protective of me and self-protective more than average. Because the fear factor wasn't realistic, I have to set boundaries that are more expansive for and by myself.

The thing is there's a lot of patterning internalized as a child. It will take a continuous pattern to overwhelm the old pattern and break into a new normal.

In the book I'm reading, A General Theory of Love, they report that protective parents who touhc less create fearful children while parents that allow a child to cling end up with a more secure child. They also talk about how plastic the mind is and subject to reprogramming. Noticing the frost and beleiving you have the means to fix it is large part.


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