Scared, Scarred, or Sacred


Copyright Louis Abate 2012, All Rights Reserved

It was an unusually warm day in early May; the kind of day where you could feel Summer pressing in; where your thoughts turn toward the beach, amusement parks, and the boardwalk’s annual hotdog eating contest. There was nothing unusual about the day for Gigi. It started as most days start for her. The alarm singing it’s chime softly at 6:30am then rising to a feverish gong-banging cacophony by 6:45am. The automatic coffee-maker beginning it’s vigorous mutilation of innocent beans at exactly 6:51am just as the local news returned it’s attention to ‘Weather on the 1’s.’

As Gigi sipped the mug of scalding coffee, while standing in her useless mousetrap of a kitchen, she began to feel afraid and had the thought that she should stay home from work. After all, she surmised, she hadn’t been getting along well with her business partner, Dan—with whom she felt more and more powerless; and she she quickly added, as justification, that she thought she had a bit of sore throat and fever coming on.

She drove out of the luxury high rise garage, felt the warm morning air with it’s tangy briny aroma that she had grown to love since taking out that unusually high mortgage, and was overcome with such a feeling of dread that she threw up her breakfast of black coffee and Vegemite on toast. “Goddammit” she cursed at no one in particular. Catching the sound of her voice almost made her want to spew again. It was a paltry, lifeless, pathetic attempt at righteous indignation. “No wonder I let Dan walk all over me,” she thought while reaching for the arsenal of fast-food napkins she kept in the glovebox. “I can’t even curse like a true Bogan would. I guess all those years of boarding school really did train me to be a polite member of society.”

The drive to work seemed to take twice as long than usual. Was it because she kept worrying about Dan’s reaction if she arrived late? It seemed like lately he would look for any excuse to berate her in front of their employees, even though they were equal partners in a business that she started. Or, was the anxiety because the stain of sick that was left on the leather upholstery of her brand new Porche Boxter was going to cost a fortune to clean? In either case Gigi was fighting hard to resist the panicky tremors flooding her body. “Don’t let him get to you; a lady never shows her emotions,” she told herself, “You just have to suck it up and deal with it…you have too many bills to pay. Plus, now is not the right time to find another job with the economy the way it is; and we are about to sign that deal…and you could really use the commission since you ‘just had to have’ this car in the limited edition saffron yellow.” So, she beat the disquietude down until it submitted to her will.

As she flung open the doors to the office she felt her chest tighten into a crushing panic attack. Her breathing become shallow and rapid, and she felt as if she would pass out in a matter of seconds. “What the hell is going on with me today? Pull it together Gigi!” As she collected herself and smoothed the silk of her Prada skirt she sensed a thousand eyes on her. Looking around the office she saw that no one would meet her gaze. Furtive glances were all anyone could muster. They all seemed to making themselves very busy with the most mundane of tasks. Did Alexandra really need two dozen sharpened pencils right now, or Sam need to test the copier’s lifespan as soon as she tried to talk to him? Or, was it that they could they smell the sick on her? At any rate they made her feel worse about herself than even she thought was possible.

In the midst of the organized chaos of banality the conference room doors swung open, Dan stood in front with a joker like grin, silhouetted by the companies lawyers and 2 armed security guards. He tossed a ream of paper at her and pushed past her. Gigi stood there with her mouth open feeling like her heart was going to explode and every cell of her body screaming in terror. Her mouth went dry and refused to work. After what seemed like an hour, with everyone in the office staring at her, one of the lawyers said “Dan has taken full control. You are out. Pack your things now and leave or risk being arrested.”

“Every time in my life when things are going great it seems like God punches me in the back of the head. No matter what I do, this always happens to me.” Looking back at that day, and replaying it second by second, as she had done for over one month now Gigi could neither wrap her head around what happened nor how it happened. Her in-depth life review just showed her every single time someone took advantage of her, every moment she stupidly and blindly trusted someone and they betrayed her, continuing to prove to herself that she must be as damaged and as worthless as she felt. This just served to push her further and deeper into a constricting maelstrom of depression.

“All too often when we feel the gripping talons of fear we sublimate it into a ‘worry’ or we justify it in some way. When we do that it takes all of the power out of the fear, turning it from a raging lion into a lethargic mouse, making it easier for us to ignore. Often times we will then create a story to put our experiences into in order to substantiate our not reclaiming of our power; to prove to ourselves some erroneous deeply held ideation. We love our stories. We will tell them over and over to ourselves and to others until it is accepted as truth and etched into our view of the world. The problem with this is that we don’t listen to the subtle cues that the environment and our bodies are giving us. The air around us is charged with tiny, invisible particles carrying messages. Are we paying attention?”

“Right now look a very painful time period in your life. Looking slowly backwards in time from the event are you able to see how many times you were “warned?” How many times did you feel fear, dread, foreboding? What about apprehension, anxiety, distress or uneasiness? We have all heard the stories of the people who didn’t go into work on September 11th, how some felt sick, or had a sense of dread, or were just a few minutes late and missed their train. Our culture has taken the fear sense and judged it unfairly. Our society says that fear is wrong and uncivilized.”

“Yet being scared is a sacred experience. We need to honor our fear for it is meant to keep us alive and to point us in a new direction. Look at a covey of quail. The moment they sense a threat they feel the fear and respond taking to the air. Do we really do that as humans? Do you feel the fear and take appropriate action? Or, do you see the taxi bearing down on you in the middle of your cross and override the impulse to dash to safety thinking ‘this guy better see me and slow down.’”

“You can feel the fear and ignore it just as I did for all those months, pretending it doesn’t exist or giving it excuse after excuse. Yet when I saw Dan surrounded with the lawyers I had a few seconds of connection, knowing all those fearful times in the past were trying to get me to open my eyes to what was happening around me. However, I rejected them all, took the power out of the fear, ignoring them until I found myself without a job, bills piling up, and nowhere to go. I was a victim of my circumstance, and I allowed it to create a scar of paralysis.” All those ugly feelings I kept running from reared up and pressed me into a corner until I couldn’t move or breathe.

“Now, looking back over the past nine months I wouldn’t change it for the world. It is one of the most sacred experiences I have had. I got to a point where I just surrendered to the fear of being alone, penniless, and a failure. I stopped running away from it, stood still and allowed that fear to consume me. And, instead of dying (like I thought was going to happen) I felt more alive and vital than ever. All of a sudden I knew what to do, I felt powerful! And, I am glad I did because YOU are the result of me listening to the fear!”

The audience erupted into what seemed like a 5-minute standing ovation. Gigi’s seminar ‘From Fear to Fear-ce’ was a success.