Friday, April 13, 2018

Bridges and Tough Conversations

I've been pretty inspired lately by my new outlook on dealing with fear. Until a few weeks ago, I had no idea how often I was letting fear get in my way. Obviously, I knew I was using some pretty extreme avoidance tactics post head injury in order to drive every day without getting on the freeway or going over any bridges. Of course, if you live in the Twin Cities you know that at some point this became impossible if I wanted to get anywhere west of my house. Unfortunately, we have this thing called the Mississippi River. Turns out you have to drive over a bridge to get to the other side. At some point during the summer I finally forced myself to start doing this, mostly because the amazing Dana B. has her office on the other side of the river and I needed a massage. So, I pushed my fear aside and drove over the 494 bridge like a granny to see Dana.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I decided to change my outlook on fear and realized that perhaps facing this fear instead of constantly burying it might be a good idea. I recalled a conversation with Mama Liz last summer when I told her that maybe someday I would just ride my bike out onto that 494 bridge and stand there until it wasn't scary anymore. Since it was nearly 50 degrees yesterday, I figured it was as good a day as any to go hang out on the bridge.
At first the old fear-induced dizziness came back, but, funny thing, when I just let it be instead of trying to make it go away, it passed in its own time and there I was, pretty darn comfortable on the bridge. I mean, I didn't to any head stands or stand on the top of the railing or anything, but hey, baby steps.

I did get over the bridge phobia enough to take a ride out onto the old swing bridge later in the ride though.
I admit, I was pretty thankful it doesn't actually swing. Again, baby steps.

I know, these probably seem like little things, and actually when I finally did them they really were pretty minor. No panic attacks or meltdowns. The cool thing though- facing these fears of physical things is helping me face some of my other fears, which are really the ones that probably affect my life the most.

That fear of judgment I wrote about a few weeks ago- it's really been on my mind. Sometimes you just finally realize how much something affects you and it motivates you to do things you never thought you could do so that you can make it better. That's me and this whole fear of judgment thing.

So, this week, I had a tough conversation, one that a year ago I would've done everything in my power to avoid. I would've just disappeared and considered it over, never realizing what a great opportunity speaking up could've been- for me and the other person. Of course, when I finally had that tough conversation, and gave someone the chance to explain themselves, I realized that this person, who I thought was treating me a certain way out of dislike or judgment, was really treating me a certain way because he simply thought I could handle it. Apparently my happy-go-lucky attitude, combined with the fact that I can run for an absurd amount of hours on end, makes me appear to be tough as nails.

Of course, once I gave someone the chance to explain this, I discovered a lot more about myself than I would've had I just run away. As an added bonus, that person also got some feedback that might help him the the future too, something that would've never happened if I'd stayed quiet out of fear of judgment.

Now, hopefully facing this bridge fear and my fear of judgment will help me move past my fear of moving water before HAMR this summer. I'm told I have to cross the river a couple times with my bike and I really don't want to carry a life jacket for 170 miles. My bike floats, right?

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