Monday, 11 October 2010

Don't be afraid of fear

It's an odd thought, but it's true.  We are afraid of fear.  We are also afraid of pain.  Perhaps it's cultural or perhaps it's part of being human.  I'm not sure which. 

Since the Braxton Hicks (B-H) contractions started three weeks ago, I've noticed my own fear of pain rising.  It closes me down - the fear of the unknown and the fear of the pain, much less the experience of the pain itself!  My muscles lock.  My mind freezes.  I start into avoidance tactics. 

But the beauty of these blessed contractions, is that I've had the opportunity to face that part of myself that seems to unconsciously believe that fear (of the unknown) and pain, will somehow anihilate me.  That I won't make it through to the other side.  The tensing up seems to be an almost primal reaction to brace myself and to deflect the fear (denial!) and pain (paracetamol!), if possible.

What I have learnt is that I don't actually need to seize up in the face of fear or pain.  There is a way of softening to it, by noticing my unconscious reaction and then breathing out; by acknowledging that I'm scared and knowing I can get through to the other side, and by acknowledging the discomfort of the sensations, and knowing that they too will end.

In my mind, the metaphor is a surfer.  Massive waves are scary, as they can drown us.  And for most of us, I imagine we would panic upon seeing a wave towering above us.  It is not the wave that can annihilate us so much as our own panic.  Alternatively, we can be like the surfer, and channel the immense power of the wave.  We can ride it.  We can use its amazing power to experience the world anew. 

Giving birth for the first time is, in my experience, a challenge - the fear of the unknown, the pain, the horror stories... I could panic (and have done frequently!).  But I'm learning to surrender to its energy with each B-H series, I'm learning to let that energy flow through me rather than tensing when I encounter it.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to ride it to the end and experience the high I get when I go beyond my limits and achieve what I thought was possible.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer, What a great reflection on making fear into an ally through acceptance rather than resistance. You are going to go through this birthing just fine, and rejoice in the birth when it's done! Please consider me in your cheering section! Greg