Stepping Back, Moving Forward

Let us be brave, and live brave lives.  Simple statement, enormous rewards.

When I was a small girl of about five or six, I began to suffer from  night terrors.  My poor parents, exhausted with their full time jobs and the weighty business of raising five kids, scarcely had the time
or energy to deal with a sensitive child like me.  My benevolent older sister held me tight sometimes to give me some sense of security in the hopes that I would be able to sleep, but eventually even her eyelids grew heavy and she drifted off.  What ensued, what always followed was a long night in the dark, the soft sounds of everyone sleeping around me, shadows playing menacingly on the walls, and doorknobs turning  by invisible hands.  It was then that I learned what my own heartbeat sounded like, pounding up in my throat, body taut, hands gripping the blanket, and eyes wide, watching, waiting, praying for the sweet release of dawn.

My mom and dad, not quite knowing how to handle this overly sensitive child, assured me that I was safe, that burglars did not creep around in the dark while children slept, and no one was going to “get me”.
My dad even produced a baseball bat which he dramatically placed at the head of my bed so I could whack any would-be intruders who dared to come near.   He tried so earnestly to appease my fears that I hadn’t the heart to tell him that what I feared was much bigger than something that could be stopped by a baseball bat.  All my demons were inside of my head, and there was no outrunning them.

We all have fears, whether we’re six or sixty years of age, and while we may no longer fear the night, we each have our malevolent shadows, whether they be in the form of worry, anxiety, or any one of countless unnamed fears.  It’s part of the human condition, and while they may shape-shift over the years, taking on new forms and presentations, we are all haunted to one degree or another.

It is often said that most of our fears never come to pass, and thankfully, this is true.  But some do, and when that happens, we have no choice but to face and deal with them.  What we do have a choice about is how we deal with them.  We can do it by avoidance, by simpering and cowering, torturing ourselves  every step of the way, or we can just face whatever it is, head-on, nose to nose, go the ‘full monty’ so to speak.

Having had experience with both methods, I know for sure that bravery is best.  It is the least painful, the quickest, and the most effective.  I know because I’ve lived a long life, and I’ve faced my share of demons, both real and imagined.  I wish that little six year old girl had known what  I know now, because instead of trembling under the blankets, waiting for the demons to come for her, she would have stood tall on that bed, bat in hand, smacking it against her left hand, shouting, “C’mon you bastards.  I’ve got something for you, and I haven’t got all night, so let’s move this along!”

Bravery, as you know, isn’t the absence of fear.  It’s facing the fear and doing whatever  needs to be done.  Anyway.  Bravery opens new doors, offers us unending vistas of opportunity and experience, not just for today either, but  for the rest of our lives.  Bravery is the secret key that fits the lock, and once you have it, no one and nothing can ever hold you back again.  And it feels good.  Very good.


About Ruth Knox

Freelance writer, published in the Canadian and U.S. market. Magazine articles, newspaper columns, guest columns, the arts community, poetry in literary venues, essays in anthologies, published in 4 Chicken Soup for the Soul books, cover story about The Treasure Valley Roller Girls in Idaho Magazine. Now in the editing stage of my non-fiction book for family caregivers, Caregiver's Quilt, a book of companionship, inspiration, laughter, and resources, encouraging caregivers to take good care of themselves too. Now living in Boise ID presently freelancing while working on my book. Member of Idaho Writers' Guild, The Cabin,and National Federation of Press Women. Interests which I like to write about include living a fabulous mid-life, spiritual growth, the writing journey, living joyfully, and finding meaningful connection.
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6 Responses to Stepping Back, Moving Forward

  1. Sherri Fujimagari says:

    I really loved reading this. I remember the days, the nights, the moving shadows among the hanging laundry. That green house was a doozey, as Mom used to say. And look where you ended up! Yay for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brilliant post. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. 1donkey says:

    Reblogged this on lilfyrhorse and commented:
    I could not have written this any better, so I will simply, with huge gratitude to Ruth, reblog!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, Ruth. I’m incredibly frightened most of the time, but what has always been by downfall is not realizing how much the fear is just fear. I’m getting the hang of that now. I see “freak out” streak by and I think, Oh, hello old friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ruth Knox says:

    I so strongly relate to this, Nancy. You seem so self assured that one who didn’t know you well would never suspect that you have the same battles going on inside yourself that they do.


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