|Blindsided - Page 5|
The Paralysis of Fear
Paraplegia is actually my second encounter with paralysis. My first was with the paralysis of anxiety, worry, and avoidance of life's inherent challenges that I'd already experienced throughout my life. I was forever being dragged kicking and screaming from the quicksand of obsessive worry into the necessary next step of life. Anxiety about the draft in the late '60s led me by default into the ill-fitting world of secondary education. My obsessiveness about a career choice led me to hang on to a dead-end job in education until the rug was pulled out from under me. Fortunately I was in my own personal therapy and so intrigued with the process and desperate for vocational fulfillment that I took the leap to pursue a doctorate in psychology at the age of 32.
My personal emotional development has been one of anxiety gradually yielding to excitement with life. Paraplegia has been my advanced training in anxiety management. It's confronted me time and again with raw, survival fear. Now when I face challenges involving mere neurotic fear, I'm able to get past them.
When you're paralyzed, you're immediately catapulted beyond any belief that life is controllable. The uncertainty of life stalks you relentlessly. By the fall of 1998, I'd pretty well learned the lesson of not taking life or any of its particulars for granted. I knew that two-thirds of married paraplegics lose their marriage. I knew that I'll always be a breath away from a disastrous medical breakdown. I'm a devoted wife away from the nursing home and a pressure ulcer away from having to be hospitalized for months at a time. I've had to let go of the illusion of control and surrender to life's flow.