Fear Is My B*tch
"I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." ~Sarah Williams
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne year ago, almost to the day, I had a full blown spiritual emergency. Not a panic attack or a bout of anxiety, but a “kundalini awakening1” that almost took me down. I had been on an advanced meditation course—lasting six weeks—that required me to meditate for between 4-6 hours a day.
Everything was cool, until it wasn’t. About 5 weeks in, “it” happened. I was in a room with about 25 other girls, when all hell broke loose. Out of nowhere, I felt so much energy flow through my body, I thought I was going insane and having a heart attack all at once!
But that was only the beginning.
After the main event, I proceeded to stay up for days, too scared to close my eyes or even turn off the lights. I had become so sensitive/intuitive, I could literally see into people’s souls. I felt every person who walked past me, and information was downloading so fast into my mind, I didn’t even know what to do with it! I couldn’t eat, so I survived on chocolate chip cookies and vitamins that were supposed to calm you down (of course, they didn’t work). Pretty quickly, I started feeling like I was playing a starring role in my own sci-fi movie.
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A Guide to Personal Growth through Transformational Crisis - by Christina & Stanislav Grof In The Stormy Search for the Self, Christina and Stanislav Grof draw on years of dramatic personal and professional experience with transformative states to explore these "spiritual emergencies," altered states so powerful they threaten to overwhelm the individual's ordinary reality. Read the Book >
Fast forward a week and I’m on a flight to Atlanta. My cousin was having hip surgery and I promised her I would be with her before and after the procedure. I had taken this flight a hundred times in my life, from Chicago to Atlanta—a hop-skip-and-a-jump flight, as easy as it gets. And we all know 90 minutes is like nothing in terms of flying time, right? Not this time. This flight was about to change my life as I knew it.
I was flying Southwest and they had just acquired AirTran Airlines. Unlike Southwest, AirTran has actual seat assignments, whereas Southwest has open seating. When I checked in to my flight that morning, I noticed that, not only did I not have a seat assignment, I also didn’t have a letter assigned to me (per Southwest's seating system.)
I walked up to the desk at my gate and explained the situation to the attendant. She looked into it and said there had been a mix-up, which she would straighten out for me. And boy did she straighten everything out! This attendant assigned me the furthest seat from the front, the one closest to the bathroom at the far end of the plane. Now, once I got on the flight and realized where I would be sitting, I was a bit disappointed, but I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.
Little did I know, shit was about to get very real in 3, 2, 1… take off!
Pretty quickly, I started feeling like I was playing a starring role in my own sci-fi movie.
When the plane lifted off the ground, I had the exact same explosion in my body that had occurred on the meditation course a week earlier, except this time I was totally trapped (with no support group whatsoever). In seconds, not only was I completely losing it, I also was stuck in that damn corner next to a couple who wouldn’t stop fighting with each other! That super-sensitivity came flowing back to me fast and I could see both of their lives flashing in front of my eyes. Each one of them was in so much pain, and each felt stuck and desperate. The result was anger spewing out of them both like bullets from a machine gun.
Honestly, I thought I was going to run over to the door of the plane and jump out. I had visions of an emergency landing and me being taken straight to the psych ward. As far as I was concerned, this was insane and I was insane.
I asked the furious couple if they could let me out of my seat, so I could use the ladies room. I didn’t really have to use the bathroom, though—I was attempting to break out of my jail cell and try to get some help. I walked up to the closest stewardess and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I simply said, “Please help me, I’m completely freaking out.”
This angel on my flight immediately grabbed my hand and said she was going to take care of me. I looked into her eyes and knew she was there to save me. She grabbed all of my stuff, moved me up to first class and gave me a glass of wine. As she bent down next to me to make sure I was feeling better, I was so overwhelmed by her kindness, I thought my heart was going to explode. The level of love and fear I was experiencing at the same time was unreal.
Interestingly enough, there was a basketball player next to me—if he was famous, I wouldn’t know—who let me hold his hand the rest of the flight. He admitted to me he was scared of flying, too. What? I thought, A 7-foot tall professional basketball player is scared of planes. It made me laugh, and by then I was actually breathing.
The kindness of strangers got me through that flight, and when we hit the ground, I thanked God at least a million times.
When I had to fly back a week later, as soon as I stepped foot in the airport, the panic set in once again. This time, though, I was armed. My cousin had given me a couple of pills to take in case of emergency. I stood there and thought, I have two choices: take the pills and make it home or rent a car and drive for 12 hours. I decided to break the glass and take the pills. They did the trick and I made it home, but I definitely wasn’t unscathed.
[bctt tweet="Little did I know, shit was about to get very real in 3, 2, 1… take off!"]
For an entire year, I couldn’t get on another flight. Every time I thought about getting on a plane, or even going to the airport, my heart would start racing. I cried over it, talked to friends, journaled about it, and prayed a lot. All to no avail.
When it dawned on me how limited I had become by this panicky reaction I couldn’t seem to shake, I finally decided that I was going to make fear my bitch.
I did a ton of research and found a pro in the phobia/spiritual emergency department. After speaking with this therapist on the phone, we decided a combo platter of hypnotherapy and EFT (tapping) would be the best route to take. As of today, I have religiously gone to this amazing lady every week for a session, and I am happy to say I just booked myself on a flight in July. Within a month of really facing this crippling fear, I have made huge strides. And I have learned . . . God knows I have learned.
I kept asking myself, Why did this happen to me? Anyone who knows me would say fear is not part of my m.o. It seems like I was born fearless, always up for anything. It’s the reason I was always so wild. Nothing (much) scared me . . . but now, I see, it was time to learn. To learn about empathy, fear, solutions and love.
As much as I want to say I regret all the anxiety I have experienced and this phobia that reared its ugly head, I can’t. Because I took all the lessons and made them a part of me. The good and the bad. It’s all the same to me. Just part of the journey, my journey. And I’m thankful for all of it.
I can’t wait for you to come fly with me.
1) The awakening of one’s “kundalini” (Sanskrit for “coiled one”) refers to the rising up the spine of a primal energy (“shakti” – Sanskrit for “empowerment”) traditionally associated with the expansion of consciousness through meditation, prayer and/or devotional practices. When this energy has ascended to the “crown chakra” (top of the head), it can result in a state of illumination or self-realization.