Making Friends with the Dragon of Fear

As I launch on a new venture and new direction in my life, I pondered this morning what was holding me back. What was the niggling feeling in the background, the fear-based thoughts that were stopping me from diving into this sooner or not as wholeheartedly as I felt I could now. The Dragon of Fear raised its head and I wondered what it wanted to teach me.

I asked for direction as to the basis of the fear then I let my mind wander freely, in a daydreamy state. 

I scratched an itch on the top of my head and realized there was a small cyst growing there. There had been a large one there since as far back as I could remember that I had removed about three years ago. When I was about 5 years old, my parents had told me that I was so smart, there wasn’t enough room in my head for all my brains so they were bulging out. I believed them. *lightbulb*

My thoughts kept wandering then went back to an old radio that I received as a gift from my father on my 12th birthday.

My father was a house painter in Manitoba. The winters in Manitoba are very cold (certainly much too cold for outdoor painting) so he was usually unemployed for the winter. He did not believe in ‘charity’ and having his wife work outside the home was a sign of failure on his part. So there was no income if he didn’t work. With 6 children, that usually meant a long winter of living on the credit cards, maxing them out by the spring, then working long hours in the nicer weather to pay off the credit cards so they could do it again the next winter. Since my birthday is in the Spring, when their finances were at their lowest, I usually ended up with a home-made gift or a book or such (all our inside toys were educational).

Whenever the weather permitted (which meant anything up to frostbite temperatures), my mother made all 6 children play outside for at least an hour each day.(Much later, when I became a parent, I finally understood that hour must have been what kept her sane) 

The winters, however, meant long stretches of being indoors during Manitoba blizzards. With an unemployed husband, six cabin-fevered children home because it was to cold for the school buses (we always lived in a small house out of town), my mother must have been so happy when the temperatures started climbing. Anyone who knows the area around Winnipeg, Manitoba, knows that there is always a final blizzard before Spring arrives. This usually happens in early March, right around my birthday.

In 1972, after a particularly long winter, the blizzard fell on my birthday again. I never realized until much later in my life how broke and stressed my parents must have been by that time of year. As a birthday present, my father gave me an old radio that had come in a box from the auction. He told me that as long as I had it unplugged for 10 minutes, I could take it apart as much as I wanted. I was thrilled!

It was the first time I had a chance to listen to whatever I wanted in my ‘room’ (my half of a partially finished attic, accessed by steep homemade ladder-like steps. My older sister’s ‘room’ was at the other end.) I must have drove my  sister crazy as I turned the round dial from station to station, again and again, over and over. In a strict household, the freedom to choose anything for myself was a new experience. 

But my favorite thing was taking at all apart! I had no idea how it worked, but I was fascinated by taking it apart and putting it back together, repeatedly.

I was always encouraged to be smart. My father’s genius IQ produced smart children and it was the only area that he showed pride in us. However, I was not encouraged to be educated. My parents came from Europe with old traditional beliefs.They lived in a generation where a woman must marry. So we were raised that an education, certainly further than high school, was unnecessary since we would just marry and have children anyways. *light bulb*

Stringing the lightbulbs together, I come back to something that I have dealt with over the years , in onion-like layers.

The belief taught to me, repeated over and over, in so many unspoken ways – You are smart but your destiny , because you are female, is to marry and raise children. You will use your smarts in the confines of that life. Success in the world, in any other form, belongs to men.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved being a parent! My children and bonus kids (I don’t like the term stepchildren) are the loves of my life. And the joy of being a grandparent is unmatched! But children move on with their lives. Your joy comes from seeing them living happy lives, whatever that is for them.

My parents assumed I would marry for life and after children, I would be supported into my old age by my husband. Though I thought that would be the case when I remarried in 2000, that is not now my reality. It has taken me a a year and a half to get over my separation and I am just starting to feel the grief loosening.

Now I can address the rest of my life. Though I have not schooled in a tradition way, I am not uneducated. And I am still smart. 

The dragon of fear has raised it’s head in one last attempt to make me follow those deeply instilled beliefs.

A warrior would slay the dragon. But I am an adventurer. So I will change the old beliefs, again instill new ones…and make friends with the dragon.