The F word

I usually write about little things that happen to me during the day, that mark me in a way or another.

Today, I want to write about fear.

The first thought to come to mind as the reason why I would write about this now is the fact that I have just watched V for Vendetta (yes, for the first time, I know it has been out for a long time, I had just never gotten the chance to watch it, although the DVD has been sitting there in my drawer for years.) and it ignited a little fire in me that doesn’t seem to want to go off. At 11pm Dubai time, here I am feeling the strong need to stand up. It’s crazy what movies do to us (and kind of great).

But then again, the subject of fear relates to an experience I had exactly one week ago from today.

Seven days ago I took a 7-and-a-half-hour flight from Lyon to Dubai, which I was generally used to. This was not my first flight, and definitely not my last; and during that flight the pilot called for all passengers and flight attendants to get back to their seats due to turbulence (that was also not my first turbulence call). I was sitting next to a couple going on their honeymoon to the Seychelles if I remember correctly, and they had a connecting flight in Dubai.

I usually don’t pray on a daily basis, but it just so happens that every time I have a flight to take, I say a prayer before we take off, just because it calms my nerves.

The plane started shaking, the shudders were usual and nothing I haven’t experienced before, and then it started escalating, and small vibrations quickly became small left-to-right swings, just writing about it now makes my stomach clench exactly the way it did on that plane. Quickly enough my body shivered more extensively than the plane itself, and I felt an unprecedented level of fear run through it, from the strands of my hair to my ankles, to my fingernails and the soles of my feet. I felt, legitimately, like I was dying; and there was nothing, and no one that could stop it.

My heart felt like it was going at a faster pace than the plane, I could not talk, see or breathe anymore, and what was driving me insane was the fact that I was not in control of the situation, and it kept stretching on for minutes.

Long story short, I’m in Dubai now, alive and on the ground and I was an absolute nightmare to the poor two sitting beside me as they had to switch seats and move upfront, as I got to talk to one of the flight attendants, once again, just to calm my nerves. She talked to me about everything and anything; about where I lived, what my plans are for the moment, who I will be seeing in Dubai, I was pretty sure she was instructed to do so, as a flight attendant approaching someone in panic. But there came a moment when she touched on the elephant in the room, and I was still surprised by how much what she said affected me. We talked about fear, as if I had never talked about it before. I realized that fear sometimes controlled my life and the things that I did, at times without me even being aware of it. I feared small and bigger things that had either minor or substantial impacts. I feared things such as taking two Panadol pills instead of one, and I feared confronting individuals in my life. I feared not remembering all the information I needed to remember before a very important exam, and I feared disappointing the people that loved me. I fear the outcomes of the things that I say and even more the things that I don’t. I fear letting people into my life and getting them out of it. I fear judgement and I do admit it; judgment from those who love me and from those who aren’t even involved in my life. I fear the loss of people I care about and that care about me, and sometimes I fear my own thoughts. I fear losing touch with some people and losing the feeling of their touch on my skin.

The point is this chronic fright has lead me to situations where I thought I was actually dying when I really wasn’t, that emotionally or physically. I was recently asked what it is exactly that I feared, to which I had no answer to, because it was everything and nothing all at once, and it was then that I realized that some really great moments in life lie just behind that gigantic black hole that is fear. That F word that I keep using senselessly, labelling it on the things that matter and the things that don’t.

I’ve been working on this part of myself for a bit of time now, but the more years pass by and the more complicated problems tend to seem, it is not about taking an extra Panadol pill or searching for symptoms of a momentary sickness on Google. Problems had layers that I had to peel and fear just seeps into them like bacteria you can’t really see.

So here it is, written somewhere on the internet and permanently on my laptop and in my head. I will try to do some things that scare me to my core, knowing that either way if it’s a good or a bad outcome, I will have to face it. This prison is like no other, you are already free, you just have to get up and walk straight out of fear to freedom, and I can only imagine how good it will taste and how my shoulders will feel after all the weight of years and words has been lifted off them.



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