It’s funny when I think about my fears over the years. I do not remember having many fears. I always remember being an adventurous kid not afraid of much. As I got older I think I became more afraid of emotional or societal -per se- matters instead of physical matters: fear of not being loved by a man the way a woman deserves to be loved, fear of not graduating high school, fear of not having a job, fear of not getting married by a certain age or fear that my life would not turn out the way that I planned it.
All of those were valid fears. As I became older my fears shifted a little bit: fear of having a baby, fear of getting pregnant a-gain (and a-gain), and fear of going through labor and delivery again. People assume that because I have nine kids that I wanted that many or more or that I just love pregnancy, labor and delivery. Not so, not so! Pregnancy has always been very good or easy per se for me even when I was pregnant with my twins but it does not mean I loved every minute of it especially the end. And childbirth? Forget about it! I dread childbirth like people dread the plague! Every time? EVERY TIME.
One thing that always remained consistent about my fear around babies and the like was that I did not let my fear define me. I did not let fear dictate my life, my decisions or what God had planned for us. So with each positive pregnancy test I rolled with it (all those fears). Just like right now I am rolling with new found fears as a part of my last childbirth: fears related to anxiety.
I have never had issues with anxiety until my fourth child was born but that was mild and was over quickly. With the birth of our ninth child, however, I began to have a lot of anxiety and still have anxiety to this day but it is minimal. I still chose to deal with that anxiety by facing my fears head on. Now, granted, there are some days where I don’t. Take for instance the day my husband wanted to put me on a rollercoaster. I had zero interest. I was plagued with fear and anxiety. I did not want to face it even when I got into the seat. But I did it. I got on the darn rollercoaster and cried the whole time. I cried when I got off and I swore never to ride a rollercoaster again. Reminder: this is coming from a person who has always always been adventurous! But the key is that I did it. I may not have wanted to but I faced my fear. And though it may have been painful to go through it coming out on the other side of it felt fantastic because I did not let that fear control me or consume me.
I am currently on vacation in the Poconos with my husband. The last few days have been filled with adventure and doing things we have never done before together. Sure, I came prepared, I brought the Xanax but I am very happy to say I have not needed it. I convinced my husband to go parasailing – something I have always wanted to do but never got the chance. I did not tell him I was scared. I knew he was but he was willing to do it for me. He still doesn’t know I was scared. I was only scared because of this new anxiety in my life. Had this been before the birth of our last child I would not have had a scared bone in my body. Right before we were about to go up there was thunder and lightening. Immediately the crew put everything away and I was so bummed because I thought we had missed our chance. I’ll be honest, part of me was a bit relieved but most of me was bummed because I knew that if I got up there I would feel better about tackling my anxiety. I also knew I would enjoy being up there. The crew, God bless them!, hung around on the water for a good half hour or more just waiting for it to clear and finally we had our moment. Up we went and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I felt so proud up there and once we landed on the boat. It was more than just a ride in the sky: it was facing my fear and overcoming something given to me -anxiety- but not in charge of me.
Today is our last day here and God-willing I plan to do something with my husband that we did a few years ago: zip lining and tree top adventures. The tree top adventures are very very hard. It does not only require you to use your body but all of your senses. It is demanding in every sense imaginable. When you finish the course you feel it in your mind, body and soul. Some may not even attempt to try this because of their weight or lack of exercise (like me) or their fear of heights or even their lack of trust in their partner to help them. But again, for me, I say do not let your fears define you. If I can birth nine kids being as big as I am then damnit I can do a tree top course! If I can chase nine kids around all day long and not keel over and die, then I got this!
If we let our fears dictate and control our lives think of all the things we are missing out on?! People always say, “And you would have more kids after all of your fears?” And I always say, “YES!” Because God knows what is best for me, for us and so far He has and continues to prove that. They continue, “But you could die?!” and I respond, “Yes, but you could die from crossing the street?!” Just because you have a fear of something doesn’t mean you should avoid it. After all, as the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, no?