Health and Wellness

Discarded Fear

I sat on the dock with my feet dangling over the edge. Wisps of my red hair that had mixed with the salty sweat on my forehead and neck had practically glued themselves to my skin. I tried to pry them away by piling the mass of flames onto the top of my crown to cool myself but they just kept tumbling back down again. I felt sticky and it made the humidity that much more unbearable. Maybe that’s why the idea popped into my head in the first place. A combination between the wicked Tennessee heat wave I had been enduring and the stress that war had brought into my life.   

Fear constantly played in the background of my mind like static taking over a good song on the radio. Somehow the events of the day had subdued it for the time being. It was as if someone turned down the volume just long enough to quiet my insecurities so I could enjoy myself for a spell. The worry that my husband might not make it home was still there, it just played a little softer. My irrational fear of deep dark water was still there too. The fact that I never really got the hang of swimming any more than I could flail my arms during a doggie paddle. A graceful swan dive wasn’t within my skill set so it probably wasn’t the best idea. I also never really got over that weird self-conscious feeling whenever I was forced to undress in the girl’s locker room.

Hush.  

Hush.  

Hush.  

I swirled my toes around the murky darkness at the edge of the bank. It was a fear facing kind of night. The stars danced on the water like fireflies in the middle of summer. The moon shattered into pieces of light over the lake and three of my favorite girlfriends gathered around me. We laughed together after a full day of trail riding horses and eating buttered popcorn for dinner. We smelled like manure and bug spray which made me happy even though in the back of my mind I knew that somewhere in Afghanistan my husband was probably running from mortars. Every day without him was a struggle. I thought a lot about death in between the moments of living my life and I needed an escape.

I was the girl that never really took risks- unlike my husband who pulled me out of my comfort zone whenever he had the opportunity to do so. Mid-twenties at the time and I had never been drunk (I still haven’t). I had never so much as considered trying drugs, and I certainly never put a cigarette to my lips. I was proud of that (I still am), but I wanted to know what freedom felt like. To not be so wrapped up in worry that it prevented me from actually living my life. To all my church friends I was the “bad girl” who made inappropriate sex jokes because I grew up in Chicago. I thought they were funny… they didn’t. Yet to all of my non-Christian friends, I was the religious kill-joy who played it safe and ruined their fun.

All of those things encompassed who I was to some degree or another and yet none of them expressed me at all. There was a whole other version of me that very few got to know. Sure, I was uptight at times. Yet my soul had been searching for the kind of freedom that came with letting go of what was expected of me and finally doing the things that made me happy. I needed liberation from the prison I had built within myself. I looked at the water rippling below me and I couldn’t shake how good it might feel to be fully submerged. To quench the heat of the day. To put a stop to thinking endlessly about what could go wrong and just enjoy everything that could go right.

The tree frogs serenaded one another and the crickets joined in harmony. My friends and I talked about our lives. We cried over things we had never spoken out loud before. We howled over shared memories that had long-since passed and the mood of the night unchained me, link by link. The background noise in my head sounded a lot more like my husband’s voice of reason and his endless support.

“We should go swimming.” Did I say that out loud?  

“We don’t have enough swimsuits.” My blonde friend replied pouting with disappointment.

“Do we really need them?” I pondered.  

“You mean like… skinny dipping?” My brunette friend giggled.  

“Why not?” My heart was racing as I said it.   

How deep was the lake again? I couldn’t remember. Could my feet touch the bottom? Doubtful. Weren’t there fish in there? Probably.   

Snakes? Most definitely.   

It was too late to take it back; a pact of trust had been made. All four of us left piles of discarded clothing on the landing. I pulled the hair tie from my tresses and curled my toes around the edge of the pier. My stomach lurched and goosebumps sent a shiver over my spine but the rest of me was still. My bare-bottom faced the woods but I was locked on the rippling reflection of the sky beneath me. I took in several gulps of air, squeezed my eyes shut, and squealed before launching myself into the milky way.   

Twisted red locks suspended like a halo and my heart paused for a moment. I left everything I had been afraid of behind me with the heap of laundry that I didn’t need. Within that moment I was the brave one. Within that moment, I could do anything I set my mind to and I could do it on my own. The lake kissed my flesh with ice water as I plunged below the surface. It was a shock to my mind. I was swimming naked in an inland with no bottom while facing some of my biggest fears. My soul had never tasted such joy… right up until my foot touched something slimy.

My pale legs danced beneath me and parted water to keep me afloat. I imagined that I looked something like a gladiator or a goddess because that’s how I felt. To everyone else I probably looked like a fish slapping its fins against the shore and begging to be released… but it didn’t matter. A whippoorwill cried out from the darkness like my soul had been reaching towards the light.

I didn’t need anyone to help me get there. No hand holding was required as I stood at the edge of the pier. I did that all on my own. There’s a sense of empowerment when you tackle things you didn’t originally feel comfortable doing. You become washed in pride over having proved to yourself that you could do the unthinkable. A caged bird no longer, fear facing nights are the kind of nights that set you free.  

So tell me, what fears have you faced and how did coming to terms with those fears help you? 

An old image of me before I had my son
Back when I was a lot skinnier 😉

101 thoughts on “Discarded Fear”

  1. Your writing flowed beautifully and your photos are beautiful. My fear has always been of the night since I was a little girl. I wake filled with fright and I do not know why. I start praying. I pray for all of my children, my grandchildren, mom, my husband Gary, extended family and friends. Sometimes I fall fast asleep, but if I wake again, I start praying and the Lord gets me past my unknown fear and helps me sleep :)Jen

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was with you the entire time. I’ve been you in these moments with the running dialogue countering and blocking me as I dream of doing something different, something bigger. Hush. Hush. Hush. Indeed, we have to tell that part of us to be still for a moment, almost mother, and love it until it calms and quiets. My favorite lines are “A whippoorwill cried out from the darkness like my soul had been reaching towards the light” and “A caged bird no longer, fear facing nights are the kind of nights that set you free.” These could be stitched into fabric and hung on my wall as they are gorgeous and important.

    My biggest fears are always about being seen, showing myself in a way that might allow for embarrassment or failure. I tried out for a spoken word show at a time when my kids were small and my confidence even smaller. I felt I’d forgotten how to tell stories, how to write words together to make anyone understand or feel anything. As I stood in the audition room with my typed words in my hand, looking at the others waiting for their turn, I felt like a failure. I imagined they’d laugh when it was my turn or worse ask me to leave before I’d even finished. Yet, I stayed and read my words. I got cast. I spoke on a beautiful stage and people cried and clapped at my vulnerability. It was a lesson I’ve not ever forgotten.

    Thank you for this important blog post.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank YOU for reading, for giving me your input and making me feel as important as you did when people cried and clapped for you. I appreciate you and I LOVED hearing about when you faced your fears and how it’s changed you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s okay! I wish I was out of fear because I definitely have too many. I’m pretty ridged that way 😉 spiders, bugs of almost any kind, I can’t stand deep water where I can’t see the bottom or what’s around me (been like that since I was a baby), I have a fear of my kid dying but I think most parents have that, I use to have an extreme phobia of needles but I had to overcome that when I got extremely sick and almost died a few times, I still can’t stand hospitals but I’m there a lot 😒🥴, so doing this with my girlfriends was scary for me! I even called my mom afterwards and I was laughing so hard she thought something was wrong because she thought I was crying. It was very out of character for me. My mom has always been the spontaneous one, the one with a wild side and she’s encouraged me my entire life to live a little so she was beyond proud of me for this moment. It was significant for me and it allowed me to live a little ♥️

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful writing and moment, LaShelle! And I love that the moment you described was skinny dipping because at least for me when I face my fear it’s when I feel the most exposed!

    There’s a quote from George Adair, “Everything you’ve wanted is on the other side of fear.” And I took it with me when I went to the fertility clinic the first time to see if I could become a single mother. I felt so exposed but I kept remembering…everything you’ve wanted is on the other side of fear…”

    Beautiful post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wynne, I’m so glad that you were able to read between the lines on this one and get so much out of it! I also really appreciate you sharing that fear with me. Wow! I can only imagine how you felt embarking on parenthood alone and yet how beautifully fulfilling. You are incredible. I’m so thankful to be getting to know you more through your blog and through conversations on mine. You’re incredibly talented, thanks for taking the time to spread some love my way 💕

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ma’am, I’m going to have to pull myself off lol!! I would read every post and load your comments section lol.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There’s no better compliment than that!! If you don’t read another word after this one, check out the one I called “The Leap” I think you’ll find that one most satisfying. You can find it here: https://everpineforestandfarm.com/2022/03/11/the-leap/
        And if humor is more your mood… then read this one instead because you won’t be able to stop laughing: https://everpineforestandfarm.com/2022/03/17/the-most-unlikely-friendship/

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m notorious for that lol!

        You’re writing is excellent! Your posts keep me reading. And I’m the kind that blanks out after a while lol…

        The photography is awesome too! Just realize weight is just a number. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 👍

        Liked by 1 person

      4. It’s what husbands are supposed to do! I could go on a nice rant with that but I feel like I’m taking your head off and I’m not trying wear out my welcome on day 1 😆

        Liked by 1 person

      5. I’m going to read more! And I know something is going to come to mind. But I think you need rest. Lol!

        I’m John by the way! It took all day to introduce myself….

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Day 1 and you have had a pretty large dose of the full John experience. You’re awesome or as weird as me 🤪😂

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I tire of people very little. Especially people who actually seem to like having me around. But I start feeling like I’m annoying or bothering you after a while. I need constant assurance lol!

        Dang! It’s lightning here but nothing bad.. hope y’all are ok!!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. We’re doing well! The weather is super bizarre for some reason. Lightning thunder, tornadoes, and then cold snaps 🤣. As for reassurance, you’re golden! I like you!

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Lord I hope not! I planted a whole bunch of seeds for my flower garden and here it’s supposed to get down to 33° sometime this week! I was so mad I had to go out and buy more seeds 😅. I bought out several dollar generals and I’m pretty sure my husband wants to strangle me because I spent $33 on milk… and more seeds today 🤣😅🤭

        Liked by 1 person

      10. I know it’s growing season but I never really planted until June. Then again I’m not a farmer nor have a green thumb.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. We’re more of a hobby farm but I really wanna sell cut flowers this year, last year I was practically giving bouquets away to anybody who would want them. This year I have several people including restaurants that would like to buy them from me and since I enjoy doing it and we have the room for it since we bought more land… it just made sense! Plus it’s a great business opportunity to fuel my obsession 🤣🙈 anything sold this year can be put into a budget for next year

        Liked by 1 person

      12. I go in the woods sometimes and make hiking sticks and stuff from wood I find. I’d love to do that for a living. I support your obsession.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. I had like 4 hiking sticks and these crosses I made… I guess after a while Etsy removes everything 🤦‍♂️

        Liked by 1 person

      14. I’ll post some of my stuff on here sometime. It’s warm and after turkey season I’ll be in the woods until it’s too hot and buggy to be outside.

        Liked by 1 person

      15. If I didn’t have my family I’d sell everything and buy land in the mountains. Buy a cabin kit from Lowe’s and live off the land.

        Liked by 1 person

      16. That’s basically what we did WITH our family. I’m 100% on board with taking them with you. In my case it was my insane idea 🤣 my husband just put up with me BUT he absolutely loves it now and it was the best decision ever

        Liked by 1 person

      17. Well, LaShelly, I have to sleep. You’re super awesome!! I hope I haven’t weirded you out or wore out my welcome. And if not I’ll definitely talk endlessly with you again. If so… sorry 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well hello there, with the pics. Amazing shots as usual.

    I myself went the other route. Totally spammed my body with all kinds of intoxicants from a very young age, then realised they weren’t doing anything for me, and phased them out one by one. I think it’s been a year since I had my last drop of alcohol.

    Regarding fears, I STILL have a huge fear of insects, and every time a cockroach appears, I have to be the only one in the house to deal with it (partner doesn’t want to, and my dog just stares with indifference).

    And I may sound like a wimp, but that’s one of my biggest fears and it’s not easy to smack them and flush them down the toilet. Though every time I confront that fear, I feel such a huge release, as if my brain is telling me that that’s the right path.

    Anyway, thanks for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a TON of fears! Spiders, bugs, I had a severe phobia of needles (which came to an end when I got sick and had several near death experiences), and I hate swimming/ dark water! Thanks so much for sharing your fears with me and thanks for the compliments & taking your time to read!

      Like

  5. This is a beautiful piece of writing, not only for the way you express yourself but also for the sentiments. I get everything about your post. Feeling scared (about your husband and about other things in life) and feeling excited by your bravery and independence (overcoming fear). I feel the same way when I overcome one of my fears. Not only do we have a sense of pride in our accomplishments, but it empowers us in future endeavors. I don’t just believe that—I feel that to my core.

    As someone who has been drunk, but not for the past 35+ years, you’re not missing much. Mostly, you ask yourself as your head is over the toilet, “why do people do this?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m very much a person of habit and I always have to think things through so this event was significant for me to do! As I was telling another reader… I called my mom after I did this and laughed hysterically! She’s always the spontaneous one telling me to live a little and to not think so much 😂😅 she was so proud of me! I told my husband about it too and he laughed (in a good way) right along with me. He’s more like my mom and is always saying how I’m his Conscience reminding him to think things through before jumping. This is one of the few times I jumped without thinking every second through 😅. Very out of character for me and so freeing at the same time!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a wonderful post. Fun to read about you cutting loose, but not too much so. I have my fears, usually when it comes to dealing/talking/negotiating with people in a business setting, but my husband has done wonders for my confidence. I follow his lead and almost don’t panic at all anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello LASHELLE,

    This is a really beautiful post! It’s not only because of how you express yourself (which is lovely), but also because of your message. I feel for the person, who feels scared and worried about their husband or other things in life and then feels excited when they’re brave and take control again.If there’s anything I’m passionate about, it’s feeling the same way. We’re always proud of what we’ve accomplished and feel more confident in the future. It’s kind of my life philosophy and I know that through my soul!

    Eda | yihhu.com

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the beautiful comment Eda! I’m so glad you felt as if you could relate. I really appreciate that you took the time to read what I wrote and that you enjoyed it! 🥰

      Like

    1. My life got instantly crazier about 2 hours after talking to you! My brother in law called to say that my sister in law was really sick and they needed help with their kids so he could take care of her before he wound up loosing his job. So we dropped everything we had to do this past weekend like a hot potato and drove across the country to pick up their two kids and bring them back to our farm. ❤️ we just got home yesterday, it was the youngest’s birthday and we had to make it special without her mama. So it’s been soooo insane. I now have 3 kids. I’m exhausted ❤️headed to bed so I can keep up with all of them. I’m really glad we were able to help though.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m exhausted but I’ll say this much, I’ve never been so thankful to live on a farm than with these kids here. They came to use worried about their parents and feeling afraid and uprooted but by the end of today they have been obsessed over the farm animals, acting like kids, and spent the entire day playing outside instead of trying to convince me to let them play video games 💪🏻. The way it SHOULD be! Huge smiles on their faces and the youngest told me today that she was afraid at first but now she just feels happy. No better reward than that!!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Your writing is absolute 🔥🔥. You draw me in every single time and paint the most beautiful pictures!😍

    Like

  9. a great piece of writing; I was entranced, reading every nuanced sentence, not knowing what was coming next: fear mixed with anticipation. I can’t thing of anything offhand —- maybe I haven’t pushed myself enough —- but if I think of something really courageous I’ve done, I’ll put it up)

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I try to post every week and I’ve been trying to be consistent but farm life doesn’t always make that easy on me 🙈. I also abstained an injury (which I’m posting a piece about this Tuesday) and if kept me from being able to write for a couple of weeks which was incredibly frustrating. Thankful to be back at it! All the photography work is mine as well by the way ❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. yes, I neglected to mention the photos but they are great; I don’t think you need worry too much about consistency; once a week is good; I try to post three times a week and that seems okay for me —

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m a bit late to the party, and most of what I’d like to say has already been said in the comments above, so I’ll limit myself to this: You are terrifically talented, weaving your words so skillfully that the read is transfixing and satisfying. I’m quite pleased that you left your comment on my own blog today, leading me here. Sometimes I just love the odd kismet of WordPress, with randomness leading to wonderful discoveries. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think your comment is my favorite comment of all. I’m positively elated that you enjoyed it so much! I feel the exact same about your blog. I can’t wait to read more. Thankful we connected!

      Liked by 1 person

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