Orphan Fear

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This week I’m trying something new. I’m in peace negotiations with Fear. I even gave it a proper name.  Meet Esmeralda.

For most of my adult life, Esmeralda has been exiled, banished, not allowed a place at my table.  When ignored, she has wreaked havoc; she has banged inside my chest with her dirty little fists, she has been screetchy and snarl toothed and has never once taken a bath.  I have disliked her immensely. She knows this.

She’s the one that insisted I not hang by my knees from the monkey bars when I was eight; she hated sleds that sped too fast down steep hills. She wouldn’t let go of the fact that it makes no sense that tin cans with wings should suspend over buildings, or that horses should so easily let you ride on their backs.

She draws pictures of aftermath… unhappy stick figures amidst the wreckage of one scenario or another.  Her thin high-pitched tones have been heard rounding corners, reminding me that I could fail, someone could get hurt, some performance wont live up to its potential, or one thing or another won’t work the way it’s supposed to.

She loves to watch CNN. When I scroll across headlines she says “See, this is what happens when people don’t listen!”

This week, after hearing news of yet another low white count and therefore no chemo, Esmeralda came knocking (no surprise.)  She said: “You know what this means don’t you… it’s not going to work!  I told her to buzz off, so she increased her volume. I slammed the door and she shook me to the core in protest. The more I rejected her, the more energy she hurled at me.

So, I did something radical and against my better judgment. I let her in. I heard her out.

Over the past three days, I have sat across from this part of myself with her pale little face and dirty feet. I even allowed her to sit on the furniture.

She warned me (more quietly this time) against the worst-case scenario, the piece I thought if I let in, might make it so. But the more she talked, the more my dislike of her began to dissipate. I saw her with new eyes, as a part of myself that I had orphaned, found unworthy of loving. And when I saw her, really saw her… I began to uncover the peace that was waiting in the acknowledgement.

The past three days, there have been no bushes to beat back, just a thought that was met, came and then went, with no force to resist it.

And so, in this week of no chemo, I’ve been given an opportunity for insight. A chance to integrate what I thought was the worst part of me, a chance to show compassion towards fear, something that was sorely missing. I gave her a name and a bath. And for now, she’s asleep.

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23 thoughts on “Orphan Fear

  1. My dear, sweet luv. You should write a book! You are an inspiration. We are all fighting this fight with you and continue to keep you in our thoughts and prayers. I love you, Godchild. and so does God!

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  2. That is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. Thank you for teaching us the lessons you are learning. You are a gifted writer, teacher, human. Much love –

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  3. I remember when we used to embrace fear; the unknown and thought that it was thrilling. The crazy guy who was driving next to us down Colorado blvd in the middle of the night, living in New York, the late nights and craziness of it all. Late nights telling each other stories of our “angst” and “hard times” that were self induced as if they were real. Little did we know the real challenges were ahead for us. Life IS about embracing that fear. Looking it straight in the eyes in order to take away its impact. There’s a strange calm that comes with that, too. However, you have moved beyond that to a world unknown and have conquered that too, you brilliant woman! God bless you.

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  4. Oh Mollie. Esmerelda is no match for you. Inviting her in where you can truly recognize and examine your fears in-depth – how brilliant is that! That is something we all need to learn. As Mona said, thank you for teaching us. You and your writing and your spirit are too beautiful for words. Love you so much. With the force of 10,000 and more (and chemo) we can bring those cancer cells to their knees and convince them to vacate the premises. Leave our Mollie alone!!!!

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  5. You write beautifully. I remember in my Acting class how you would invite is to close our eyes and relate the different things you would tell us to ourselves. Closing our eyes and imagining ourselves enveloped in what ever emotion or state was temporary, and I knew when I opened my eyes that vision or place I had been would just disappear. When I read this I couldn’t help but notice I didn’t have to close my eyes to feel or imagine Esmeralda. She is real. Silenced by courage. But real. I can tell you that your courage to face her is as strong as you are. Thanks for inspiring me to face the fear I have.

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  6. Gorgeous You. Gorgeous Esmeralda. Gorgeous teaching. Thank you for your practice and for opening your arms and heart (and ours) to your Esmerelda, and the encouragement you offer that we might do the same for ours. Love you so, dearest Mollie.

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  7. My heart hurts. I hope for all things good, and fear that will not be the case. Sending love and blessings and thoughts for the best. Sometimes living just sucks.

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  8. Dearest Mollie: Your writings are so beautiful and inspirational. Thanks for sharing and giving us all courage to face life as it is. We love you and are keeping you in our prayers. Sending hugs.

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  9. Mollie,
    Your writing is moving and gorgeous, vivid, impactful, and needs to be read broadly. Write more!! Thank you for this.
    I send you so much love and strength.
    Love,
    Kristin

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  10. Dear Mollie-I don’t know you but I know that nothing that happens in my Lord’s Universe is by accident and it is definitely not a concidence that a dear friend of mine sent me this link. There are few things I know to do well in life and one of those is prayers. I know how to pray. And for the life of me-The Lord always answers me. I pray because I believe! I pray because our God is the same yesterday, today and forever and HE IS still in the Miracle working business. I pray because I have seen prayers bring miracles to pass. I pray because Jesus conquered the grave and is still on the throne. And as long as HE is there, I know HE will hear the heart cries of everyone who loves you, Mollie and give ear to those prayers.
    You are so courageous and extremely talented in writing. Thank you for teaching us how to endure through pain, suffering and….Fear.

    God bless you!
    Consider warfare prayers fervent said on your behalf Mollie!

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  11. I instantly felt a connection to you, through our love of elephants, sparkly sequined slippers, a nd a multitude of feelings that don’t need words. BUT NOW, after reading this piece we have something else that we share: Ezmeralda!!!!! When my youngest daughter had inner conflict, whenever she acted out in a way that she became deeply ashamed of, I named her alter ego Ezmeralda. I was able to spare Dayna the pain and humiliation that accompanies a severe case of the “naughties.” I simply blamed mischievous Ezmeralda. Dayna embraced Ezzie as an essential part of her childhood years and the ubiquitous mischief maker took the fall on many occasions.
    You have my love and support, and you have my awe!!!!!!
    Hugs, hugs, and after those run out…..many more!
    Barbi

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  12. I’m hopeless been trying to reply. Me and technology are not getting along. Your brilliant insight on fear was impactful. Your teaching even when your not teaching I’ve had my way of handling Esmeralda over the years. When it comes to my children or any loved one I have this silly little ritual of stating what I’m afraid of and feel if I say it out loud then it’s out there and it won’t happen. For instance, “so your going snowboarding Sam?” “Don’t run into any trees and if you get if trouble just sit down!” Or “ok your flying for the first time yourself Lauren, don’t make contact with ANYONE. Unless you have a question and they have on a uniform”. Then I follow this up with a healthy dose of prayer… Which does help. My prayer for you this week is that your white blood count comes up and you can continue down the path of healing. Love you Mollie!

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  13. F(inding) E (esmeralda) A (another) R (revelation)

    God has revealed himself to you again and to all of us through you.
    thank you.

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  14. Wow. That was incredible, Mollie. I’m sure there’s a cancer site or blog or magazine (?) that would love to have your words to share with others going through the same struggle. It reminds me of what I’ve heard other cancer patients and survivors say: instead of seeing the cancer as this horrible, ugly, dangerous enemy inside of you, embrace all of you and accept yourself as you are – cancer and fear and all – (though I would think it would be pretty difficult to “accept” cancer). But I’ve heard it said that only then do you let it (the fear/the cancer/the Esmeralda?) go and maybe give it a chance to let go of you. Or something like that….I have no idea. But what you wrote was true art and I wish others could read it and benefit from it. I hope Es continues to sleep peacefully. Wow.

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  15. My God, Mollie, I just found this website through facebook. I cannot say express my sorrow for what you are going through. You are in my prayers and my thoughts. Please, please keep fighting the good fight and don’t give up hope! I believe in you and know you are capable of beating this. You are one of the hands down coolest, most amazing people I’ve ever had the luxury of knowing and have made an indelible mark on my life and the lives of so many of your students.

    -Raja

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  16. Esmeralda. I think mine is named Sally. I have been avoiding her as well, but I think I will talk to her soon. Thank you for this post.

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