I like to think of myself as courageous. I suppose most people do. But deep down, I know I’m really sort of a wimp about certain things. I have little fear of snakes, but spiders make me run screaming in terror. My children were killing spiders for me as soon as they were old enough to hold a fly-swatter. I’m not particularly afraid to fly, but I don’t like being in those fast boats that lift up at the front when they take off in the water — so no boat riding with my brothers! I love cats, but strange dogs running toward me can have me climbing on my husband’s shoulders. I have no fear of public speaking, even enjoy it, but I sometimes get nervous at social gatherings that require mingling and small talk. Going to the doctor isn’t my favorite pastime, yet I tolerate most medical procedures pretty well — but I’m a nervous wreck when I go to the dentist’s office, even for a routine cleaning.
I suppose one of my biggest fears is having anything done to my eyes. Putting eye drops in my eyes requires three grown men and a team of horses (okay, maybe a slight exaggeration. My husband can get them in eventually, though he’s been known to snap at me in exasperation to stop flinching away at the last moment). I’ve never even tried contact lenses, though I’ve worn glasses most of my life. It’s ironic that I have a chronic problem with infections and styes on my right eye that often have to be treated rather aggressively with drops, ointments and — gulp! — lancing and draining. I wrote recently about a particularly nasty infection I suffered a couple of months ago. That led to a chalazion that had to be lanced and drained yesterday.
I was truly going to be brave this time. I know it’s an uncomfortable procedure, but not terribly painful. The deadening shots in and under the eyelid aren’t fun, but they’re fairly quick and they do the job as far as blocking sensation. My ophthalmologist is the nicest man in the whole world, and I always feel guilty for whimpering or flinching with him because it seems to upset him so badly to think he might be causing pain. So I sat up like a big girl for the shots — and then, as always, the world started to spin and I had to be laid back in the chair with a fan on my face. Sigh. He finished the job quickly, propping my eye open with some sort of instrument, then cutting and scraping and swabbing and whatever as gently and swiftly as he could — while apologizing every minute or so for having to do so. I came home with a patch on my eye for a few hours and only a little pain when the deadening wore off. Today my eye looks so much better than it did before the procedure and I’m glad to have that ugly lump gone. So why does my body react so dramatically when my head knows better?
Fear keeps us from doing a lot of things in life. Fear of pain, fear of consequences, fear of embarrassment, fear of failure. Fear has its place in our lives — as my kind ophthalmologist pointed out, it’s only natural to be afraid when someone comes at your eye with a needle and a knife. But it can also be a terrible hindrance to leading a full and rewarding life. Maybe I wasn’t the bravest patient poor Dr. Paddock saw yesterday, but I came through just fine, and I’m glad I had the really-minor procedure done. Soon it will be time to schedule routine mammogram and colonoscopy — neither of which are fun, but definitely worth the effort. There are other things on my to-do list that make me nervous, but that I know will pay off in the long run if I just make myself try.
As Edward Rickenbacker said, “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” So maybe I’m not such a terrible coward, after all? Because I know exactly what it’s like to be scared!
What fears are holding you back from something you really want or need to do?
There was no winner for this month’s drawing. See what I mean about how you can’t win if you don’t enter?
I’m doing something new for the next two months. There will be no drawing on August 1 due to deadlines and vacation and other summer scheduling. Instead, I’ll have a drawing September 1. The prize will be any two books the winner chooses from my backlist (subject to availability, of course). Click on the Enter to Win! tab above for more details.
And don’t forget: THE DOCTOR’S UNDOING, my newest Silhouette Special Edition, is in stores now!