To Fear.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019
I was thinking about compassion this morning, and loving-kindness, both valuable things to be thinking about and important parts of Buddhism and Buddhist thought, and my mind turned inward for a while. I began thinking of my illnesses and my pain. And my fear.

To be clear, the fear that I mean at the moment is not the one that arises in relation to financial woes, or housing difficulties. The fear that I am thinking of is the one that rises within me whenever pain and discomfort reach a certain level, or have been constant for some time. This fear also arrives pretty promptly when certain kinds of pain arrive - particularly to do with stomach/gut pain and the pain associated with urinary tract infections and interstitial cystitis.

This fear sweeps in like a wave, and it's hard to see it coming sometimes. It's just suddenly there. It says things like 'how long is this going to last?', 'is this something new?', 'is my body doing serious damage to itself?', 'what if I need to go to the hospital this time! what if I need more tests?'. And then, quietly, shatteringly, 'what if I'm dying?'.

Death isn't something that is new to me. Part of dabbling ('studying occasionally' may be the better term) in Buddhism means that I am no stranger to meditating on death - my own, and others'. With all my health issues and some operations under my belt, too, I have thought about my own death before. Not in a way that could be construed as suicidal ideation, though I have been there and know how to recognise when that is happening, but in a way of acknowledging that death is a part of life. But what I want to talk about is the fear that arises with these thoughts, when I am in pain or feel as if I am going to pass out.

I know that this pain is actually just trying to protect me. It's that 'fight-or-flight' response. And the fact that, whilst I've been diagnosed with a few different things, doctors still don't really know what is wrong with me and why I have such bad turns with my stomach and digestive system - no doctor has ever witnessed one of them, either, and even after all these years of having these 'bad turns', I still find it hard to pinpoint where the pain is coming from. I'm usually just trying to avoid passing out and reminding myself to breathe. The fear flows strongly during these times, and I know that if I get swept away by a wave - as I often did when I was younger and didn't have the strength of mind to withstand it - the pain will feel so much worse, I will feel terrified, and I will panic. Panicking just doesn't help in these episodes, unfortunately - I should know, as I've tried it. 

So, this morning I just want to send a little loving-kindness and compassion to my fear. It's trying to protect me - trying to get me to run away from the pain and discomfort, trying to get me to find someone who could take away the pain (not sure such a person exists, but I guess anything is possible), trying to remind me that even I don't know what is going on in my own body. All of this is a (misguided) attempt to help me during what is really a small crisis happening inside of me. I appreciate it. But I'm going to keep working on my breathing, my management of stress, and observing my thoughts, so that I can keep moving forward and not getting tugged down into sheer panic.

I prefer being able to breathe.

Love to all who read.

1 comment:

  1. <3 You have done more work with fear and stress than many of us will ever be able to comprehend.


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