Facing Fear

**I’ve been enjoying playing with audio, dispite the many hiccups that encure. So, if you’d rather listen to this post, please click the link here and enjoy**

For more than ten years riding a ferry means coming home. I know I often leave by one too but it’s not the same. I rarely stand at the rails, breathe in the salty air, and watch the sea foam where it meets the boat. I’m too busy with where my adventures take me to appreciate the ride. Coming home means I’m often more reflective of my journey and appreciative of the familiar.

Since I was a young girl I have always loved the sea. I often say, I could never live far from it, but I know that’s not true. I just wouldn’t like it much. I think it started when I was about four years old and the Little Mermaid was my world. I don’t think the fascination with the ocean, swimming, fish, water in general ever left. I can (and have) spent hours just laying on the beach, watching the tide pull in and out. Give me a good book and I’m set for the afternoon. When in warmer climates, I’ve even been inclined to get in.

I was thinking about this last night on my ferry home. We got in after midnight and unlike most adventures, I wasn’t happy to be home. I feel melancholy.  It makes me wonder if the ocean isn’t everything anymore. If there isn’t something else in the vastness before me. Change so to speak. I’ve never been great with change because I fear it.

I’ve talked in the past about my fears. I really only have a couple. I’m talking true fear and not about being jumpy. I can own it, I’m a jumpy person. The two that always come to the forefront of my mind (outside of losing family or friends) is Bridges and School Shootings. I have a phobia of bridges so pronounced that full-on panic attacks and vomiting insue if left unchecked. I do okay driving as long as they aren’t over water and it’s quick (the irony does not escape me). Walking is a whole other story. It starts with my breathing and the lack of air I seem to be getting. My throat constricts adding to the lack of oxygen and I can’t help tears that follow every single time. It often takes 20 or 30 minutes after the event for me to feel semi-normal again. I will always choose the long way around if it means avoiding even small bridges. Forget things like suspension or *gasp* climbing one. It’s not about hights and I sometimes wish I knew exactly where the fear comes from but I don’t. It’s just always been.

The second I’ve spoken more openly about over the last few years. I was the end of my eighth-grade year when Columbine happened. It was the most horrific thing I could imagine. I cried and cried for people I didn’t know. The following week, I experienced my own school shooting threat. We received a lot of threats that would take me into my sophomore year of high school.

On days that I’m at a school when a lockdown drill ensues, I always take the time to talk about the severity of what we’re practicing because there are always students who think it’s a game. I start by asking the students how many of you have practiced a lockdown? All of their hands shoot up and I raise my own. I keep it raised. How many of you have been in a real lockdown? I keep mine up and sometimes there are several kids with their hands up and sometimes there are only one or two. How many of you have been at a school where a bomb has gone off? All but one time where a single student kept their hand up, the room clears of raised arms. I keep mine up. How many of you have been at a school where another bomb has gone off? No hands but my own stay raised. How many of you have been at a school where a gunman was near or on campus? I keep my hand up. At this point, I have their attention and I tell them my story. I tell them of the time someone set off a pipe bomb at my elementary school and blew up a slide. I tell them about the time someone set off a bomb at my high school at blew up a girls bathroom. I tell them about the time I was teaching and the school was on lockdown because there was a man outside with a gun who the police were trying to talk down. I don’t tell them about the shot’s I’ve heard over the phone as a 911 dispatcher, or the two times I heard “shots fired” at one of my officers. I don’t tell them this because I got my point across and I’ve already scared them enough. My intent isn’t to scare but to teach.

I’m pro-gun control. This is not something new. And it does not mean I think no one should have them. But I do believe in checks and balances. When cars became dangerous, it became a law that seatbelts must be in them and warn. There was a law that made it mandatory for the driver to have a license. I believe guns should be the same way. A license stating that you’ve been certified on how to properly use the weapon and how not to. That your mental health has been considered. That you’ve taken that motorcycle safety class…. err gun safety class. Technolgy gives us things like thumbprint access to our computers, phones, and houses. Why can’t we apply the same technology to weapons? So that you are the only one who uses your gun.

Last week I had the opportunity to shoot a gun for the first time. When I was asked, I instinctually wanted to say no. Becuase fear. But if there is one thing I pride myself on being it’s a person who is open to new experiences. I believe in trying everything once and most things twice because often the shock of a new thing taints the truth about whether or not you really like it. If there is one thing I hate more then most other things, it’s hypocrisy. So, I said yes. I’m lucky to have had a good instructor and someone who I trust. When that first bullet left the chamber I felt a ringing in my ears and my whole body was trembling. Fear. Not that someone would use it against me, but that this is the thing that people use to commit horrific acts. This is the thing that has left me in tears at work. This is the thing that made me miss so much school as a child. In a way, it was facing my own fears. Learning how to correctly use this thing that scares me. I believe knowledge is power. And if the Zombie Apocolypse comes, I’m gonna be fucked when noise doesn’t affect them and I don’t know how to use one because I was banking on machetes instead.

Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Change can mean facing fear. It can mean a new job or finding the courage to go to work every day without fear. Change is in the air and I can feel it in my bones.

***These are triggering topics for me. If you are triggered by them or by anything else and you need someone to talk to, please check out this link of phone numbers where you can find help. Don’t live your life in fear. Change can simply mean asking for help and you should never be afraid to. http://www.pleaselive.org/hotlines/ ***

 

 

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