Thursday, September 09, 2004

Overcoming Fear

(c) Andy Ternay
  • Utilikilt wearin' fool in Big Bend National Park.

  • I have a tent! It is an Eureka Tetragon 9, which means that it is pretty big, like 9’ x 9’ and 6’ in the center. It took me about an hour to assemble myself. I don’t feel too bad about that time either. This is the first time ever that I have assembled any tent, ever. So, in between reading the instructions, rescuing tent pegs from dogs who think they make great chew toys, answering the phone and assembling the tent, I am feeling pretty good about the time. I intend to disassemble and pack it tonight. But that is just for practice because Friday night I am going to reassemble it. Laura and I are going to try to sleep in it and see what we think.

    This will give me several opportunities before WitchStock to practice getting the tent up. I am also going to try some camp style cooking on the Coleman stove. I am an awful cook. I mean that I am bad, bad, bad. I have never enjoyed cooking, so I don’t do it. Nor does my wife. So it seems prudent to pick several dishes and practice making them before trying the same out in the field. Any blog readers who camp and cook and can suggest some meals for the cooking impaired would be welcome. I have set myself a goal of not eating the same thing twice (mostly so that I learn). I have thought of:

    Eggs, bacon, pancakes
    Grilled cheese sandwich (wonder how that works with fat free cheese)
    PBJ sandwich
    Soup/stew (probably a beef one)

    So, I do have some ideas at least and I do believe I can make all of the above without assistance.

    I am so very excited about this. One of the things that characterized my last five or six years of drinking was fear. I let my fears control and dominate me. Which is kind of ironic because the first eight or so years of drinking, I was quite adventurous. I went on road trips and I, uh, hmmm, well, I drank with a variety of people in a variety of places.

    Once Lisa and I moved to Colorado, things were a little different. I was not longer the big man, or as one Christian put it “The most evil man on campus.” I had no friends. I didn’t know where to go to meet people and the people I met in law school either intimidated or disgusted me. Over time I did develop a small circle of friends in law school. But then I essentially failed out of law school (I quit literally right before they were going to kick me out) and to be honest, I have been too ashamed to speak to any of my law school friends. I am afraid they would look down on me for failing. After that, in the words of George Thorougood, I drank alone.

    Fear still affects me pretty strongly. I get frightened in crowds, so believe it or not, I usually experience a moment of sheer panic when I enter Wal-Mart (actually, Lisa and I both think they are evil and harming the American economy so we don’t go there anymore at all). For just a second, I will freeze, and I can sometimes feel my hands shake. Then it goes away. It did not use to go away. I remember in Colorado, sitting in a liquor store parking lot, stomach knotted, hands shaking from fear, scared to go in because it was crowded and yet knowing I had to go in if I wanted a drink. I always wound up going in.

    Like I said, I still get a little of that fear. I really do. Things have changed though. I’m not the property of the bottle or the cigarettes anymore, they have no claim on me (although they will reclaim me if I don’t keep doing the things I am doing). Between Alcoholics Anonymous, counseling, anti-anxiety meds (which I am tapering off of right now—I am going to take the last of them. For what they cost, I am not wasting any of them) I am much better. There are really two things that have made the biggest difference in the fear.

    The first is Steps Four and Five: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself; admitted to the Goddess, myself and another human being the exact nature of my wrongs. The process of writing down my fears and facing them with the Goddess and my sponsor really robs those fears of their power. These in fact are the next steps I am working on. I think I will try to write my fourth step at Witchstock and do my fifth with my sponsor the next week. I’ll post them here shortly afterward.

    My relationship to my Higher Power, whom I choose to see as the Goddess Brigit, prevents my fears from returning. She is the bedrock strength. She is my sword and shield. When I rely on Her, I am never alone. If I am never alone I always have a reserve of courage to draw upon. All She asks in return is that I try my best to carry out Her wishes and to share this gift with those around me. That’s why I blog.

    And that is why I get to go camping. Because I am no longer afraid of trying something new.

    Good Morning, Great Goddess Brigit, my name is Andy, I am an alcoholic. I have been kept sober since Imbolc 2001 by Your grace and Your grace alone. I’d like to take this moment to thank You, my Higher Power, for this my daily reprieve. Today is a good day to be sober.

    Thank You. Blessed Be.