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.