If you are a person with anxiety and fear everything, what do you do to better your life? You step out of your comfort zone and ignore the anxiety and fear. At least that was what I did on August 24, 2014, and I have found my life changed for the better.
The Tulsa Zoo at Mohawk Park had a small amusement park nearby in the early 70’s. It was there I remember my first experience with fear and, to this day, it brings the butterflies in my belly and makes my hands sweat. There was a small roller coaster that had children laughing and enjoying the thrill of the ups and downs. I begged my parents to let me ride so Daddy climbed in with me saying it was going to be fun. As the ride began it was slow and enjoyable, but quickly it escalated, and I was crying out for it to stop. I recall the uncomfortable sinking feeling as the car raced up and down along the track. I screamed for the ride to stop so I could get off the ride, but it felt the controller was intentionally going faster, and my father just laughed at me as I cried and felt myself urinate in fear.
I realize now that the ride was not increasing just to increase the uncomfortableness I was experiencing. Nor was my father laughing at my fear, but he was just enjoying the ride and having fun. Unfortunately, because of my misconceptions as a child of four or five, I allowed that moment in time to rule my emotions. This would cause me many, many years of anxiety and hold me hostage not allowing me to find the joys of experiencing new things.
Because of this fear, events that happened throughout my childhood would do nothing more than validate the emotions I had about the sinking feelings, causing frustration for me and the people who were part of my life. Unfortunately, my father seemed to be most affected by this situation. He would often become angry and argue with me telling me I was never going to succeed at anything if I were too afraid. This would further my anxiety causing me to become even more self-conscience of my failure and I would retreat further into anxiety. I am not blaming my father for any of this; I have, over the past few years, come to understand what the catalyst was for the overactive anxiety and fear giving me the ability to start overcoming the issue. Often when we come to understand the why of a situation, we can overcome and move forward.
With all of this in mind, I am hoping you can see I was a ball of stress and worry. Yes, I was, and still am, an extrovert who loves to spend time with people and enjoys being out and about. However, fear caused me to worry so extremely that I was not able to enjoy the things of travel that most people are thrilled to experience. I would dread the road trips to my grandparents because of the mountainous, curvy roads my parents drove; traveling in an airplane due to the takeoff, turbulence, and landings; visiting amusement parks and experiencing the vast amounts of gravity-defying rides; and so many other issues. This state of irrational fear grew into a fear of the unknown and caused my “what if’s” to derail plans and visions of what tomorrow would bring. Because of this, I missed out on many opportunities for fun, friendship, and success.
Since my life had become a string of fear induced failures, I had a very low self-esteem. Because of this low self-esteem, I made poor choices and was unable to accomplish anything. Between failed marriages, poor parenting choices, and a lack of commitment I was failing in most things I tried. Fortunately, my husband Scott saw something in me and he gave me the opportunity to become the person I am today. This, however, was a very rough road and his patience and encouragement are greatly appreciated.
Atychiphobia is when the fear of failure stops someone from doing things that can help one achieve his or her goals. Everyone experiences a fear of failure, but when it interferes with a person’s ability to succeed, it becomes a problem. This type of action can cause a person to never accomplish anything; that anything can be as simple as walking out the door to meet people to something as major as taking the steps needed to improve one’s career. The fear is real and if a person does not work to break the cycle, it can ruin their life. However, if a person is willing to fight self-doubt, self-hatred, and self-sabotage, they will be able to eventually succeed.
For me, my weapon to battle this issue is my husband Scott. Through his persistence, patience, and encouragement, I can now see myself as someone other than a failure. Because I can see myself as someone who can accomplish things, I am able to step out and face many of my fears. This didn’t happen overnight; we were married in 2004 and it took him speaking positively constantly and encouraging me to try to overcome my fears. I honestly had not realized this was what was happening, but over the past couple of years, I have found myself pushing myself when I start to be afraid.
One of the issues Scott dealt with concerning me was the not wanting to go out into the wilderness. I would say, “I don’t like camping in a tent, on the ground.” “There is nothing for me out of doors, just bugs and getting sweaty.” “I just don’t like to do that.” When, in reality, I was afraid; afraid of everything. I feared we would get lost if we hiked in the woods, die because of a crazed ax murderer, or, worst of all, come across a snake.
When Scott and I first met, we were in a medieval recreation organization name the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA for short). In this organization, we would camp in tents, but it was more like clamping with fluffy beds, pretty medieval clothing, and parties. The camping Scott wanted to do afterward was the tent, sleeping bag, and out in the middle of the woods. It terrified me. He was wanting to be out in the wild with no people, no electricity, and snakes. All I ever said was no. I would always come up with an excuse, but finally, I couldn’t give him a good excuse. So on August 24, 2014, we visited our very first Texas State Park. Fort Richardson State Historic Site & Park in Jacksboro, Texas.
Walking into the main office, we introduced ourselves, found out the interesting places to visit, and paid our fee. We then drove to the first area on the map, the hospital and grounds, and explored it all. Then we drove throughout the whole location and found there to be electricity, water, and civilized bathroom facilities. The trails were clearly marked and everyone was very excited to see us. That was the beginning for my real fight against my fear. It was time to force myself to not give in to fear any longer.
I found getting outside helped me battle the anxiety and depression along with sunshine. There was just something about walking under the canopy of trees that seemed to not just lift my spirits, but helped to ease the depression that occurred. Often we would walk the trails in the state parks enabling us to see the beauty we missed in town. Not only spending time in the outdoors has helped, but the driving to get to the new locations and state parks has helped to ease the anxiety. As we drive, I am able to focus on the journey.
Needless to say, this is an ongoing issue, but isn’t that what life is all about? I find that taking a few moments to enjoy the outdoors and challenging myself helps to take my mind off the scary things that try to take away my peace.