Tag Archives: afraid

My Greatest Fear: The Proust Questionnaire Continued.

To be perfectly honest, asking me to narrow down my swag of fears to my one, greatest fear was rather challenging.

Indeed, I even had to include myself on the list.

I understand that this might seem the ultimate in paranoia but if you were me, you’d also be afraid.

Make that very, very afraid.

Who hasn't shot themselves in the foot?!!

Who hasn’t shot themselves in the foot?!!

However, before you shoot me down in flames for delusional, low-self-esteemed thinking, who isn’t afraid of themselves…even just a little bit? After all, who hasn’t shot themselves in the foot often enough to know that you can be your own worst enemy?!! Certainly for me, this is no figure of speech or exaggeration but the hard core truth. My feet look like Swiss cheese, covered in bullet holes but I’m still smiling. If you can’t laugh at yourself, that’s when you really need to be afraid.

Anyway, aside from being incredibly afraid of myself, after much peering through the microscope over the last week, I’ve finally identified my greatest fear of all.

A family photo Mother's Day 2007...6 months before my diagnosis.

A family photo Mother’s Day 2007…6 months before my diagnosis.

That is that my children or those close to me will undergo extreme suffering.

As much as I thought death would top my list, in actual fact, it doesn’t. While dying certainly scares me and at times absolutely terrifies the begeebers out of me, extended anguish seems so much worse.  As much as we know life has it’s challenges and these lead to growth, there are what we would all consider extremes which we wouldn’t wish on anybody, especially our nearest and dearest. That doesn’t mean that I support euthanasia but what I’m saying is there are some things worse than death.

Our family at Yoda celebrating my birthday in July, 2014

Our family at Yoda celebrating my birthday in July, 2014

At the same time, I am terribly concerned about dying before my children are independent and that they’ll fall in a screaming heap. This is a very real consideration given my ongoing battles with a severe auto-immune disease and a complication, which causes fibrosis in my lungs. I have been fighting this even since my daughter was born almost ten years ago and there have been some very grim times when the worst seemed imminent.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Some days I even feel like Wonder Woman!

Some days I even feel like Wonder Woman!

However, I’ve now had so many threats and survived, that I am starting to feel strangely invincible.  I really shouldn’t be here and yet I’m still standing and I’m thankful for every year, every special moment we’ve had. My children are now 11 and 9 and are becoming independent. I need them to be independent and able to stand on their own two feet, even though they have their Dad, family and community support and I am determined to make sure they have me too. I have learned how to fight and have become a mighty warrior but we’d be foolish not to be prepared.

Our Family 2014- Byron Bay Lighthouse, Australia.

The darker the shadow, the brighter the light.

It has been a terrible thing to live with this threat hanging over our heads all these years, our very own sword of Damocles https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damocles

However, it has also meant that we have tried to seize the day and squeeze the juice out each and every moment. Not everybody has this gift. We don’t always succeed and being the frog in the saucepan, is incredibly stressful and frequently the wheels fall off and even putting one foot after the other becomes incredibly difficult both on a physical and psychological level. Yet, somehow we seem to survive the storm and the sun comes out again…along with a rainbow!

So, you would think that living with this ongoing uncertainty and its implications for the family would have killed off all my other fears. I should be walking on water, instead of expecting to sink and I’d no longer be afraid of driving and where to park my car. I should be happy to see my daughter head off riding her bike and gaining confidence and independence instead of worrying about her falling off (she had another stack yesterday and I had to pick up the girl with two grazed knees and the bike in the car.). I should just wave my son off when he starts high school next year, instead of running through my A-Z of worries yet again BUT…

I ‘m still human.

That said, all this thinking about fear has highlighted quite a few patterns of avoidance and I might just make a list and start knocking a few things off.

Have a go!

If you’re game, please share your greatest fear and a link to any posts.

xx Rowena

If Only A Dog Coat Had A Zip!

When you are afraid, even a few simple steps can turn into the journey of a thousand miles.

That’s what happened when it came to getting Bilbo, our mature-aged, introverted Border Collie clipped today. What could have all been very Simple Simon, turned into a drawn out ordeal…not just for him but also for all the humans involved.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we were getting Bilbo’s woolly coat belatedly clipped for summer. Or, as it turned out in the end, clipped to free him of his badly tangled coat. His aversion to being brushed while his winter coat was moulting as well as standing out in the rain, had caused serious matting and getting it all shorn off was the only way to go. The last time we had him shorn, I was grieving as the poor mutt faded from black to smoky grey as his coat disappeared.

This post covers Bilbo’s last encounter with the shears: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/summer-loving-a-dogs-perspective/

However, this time I was cheering. At least, I would be cheering if we could actually get him inside the mobile dog salon so operations could begin.

The dog salon pulls up.

The dog salon pulls up.

So the Dog Salon pulls up and we took Bilbo out the front on the lead. I felt like an absolute cad taking the dog out there to be “tortured” when he thinks he’s off for a walk. His demeanor quickly changed and he curled up inside himself on the front lawn and wasn’t coming out.

As I’ve said before, Bilbo is not good with strangers at our place  at the best of times. He is usually withdrawn and reticent in social situations and what you’d describe as an introverted introvert. He is very much our dog and he loves my Mum as well but he keeps close. Even when it comes to people who come to the house regularly, he’s apprehensive and I usually hold him back for about 10 minutes so he settles down. Then, he’s fine. I think people don’t always realise that some dogs like their space and need time to warm up just like some people. They also really don’t like being smothered with affection by strangers, which through their eyes, might simply be a pat. These are the sort of dogs who would enjoy sitting in the corner at a party if they were human and be quite content simply observing the proceedings. That said, he can be quite friendly and isn’t a risk.

At this early stage, now that Bilbo knows he’s not going for a walk and something strange is afoot, he is not in a good way. He is refusing to let the dog groomer pat him and he is looking quite frightened and skittish. I know what he was like when I bathed him and I am concerned about how the clip is going to proceed…or even if. Naturally, we are concerned about the dog groomer’s safety which is why Geoff is going with him but she also has to have enough faith to know she’ll be safe. She has been bitten before and working with dogs day in day out, Bilbo’s withdrawn fear has her on alert. An old hand, she senses serious trouble.

This whole battle of wills just confirmed my belief that dog coats should all come with a zipper so they can be conveniently removed for cleaning and seasonal adjustments.

However, that isn’t going to happen so it’s a case of smooth talking. Reassuring the dog he’ll be okay and also reassuring the groomer, which also involves having Geoff in there with Bilbo. The dog is afraid and no doubt can sense what is at least my concern. Not that I was afraid but I was  stressed about how Bilbo would respond. What’s more, given the state of his coat and some underlying skin irritation, all that fur urgently needed to go!!

There are advantages of having helicopter parents. We keep our offspring both of the two-legged and four-legged variety under some kind of control…or at least we try!! Bilbo was needing close-range helicopter hovering at this point. He really wasn’t happy!! However, our support and the groomers’ patience slowly won Bilbo over enough.

The groomer noticed the fur balls behind Lady’s ears and so we decide to give them a quick clip and hope that Bilbo settles down when he sees Lady “survive”. Lady wasn’t too keen to go in either. I think she remembered the last time she jumped into a car with a stranger and she never saw home again. That was when we picked her up. However, she emerged unscathed and was her usual sociable, tail-wagging self. Unlike Bilbo, she’s quite the extrovert and social butterfly! She loves people and any attention she can muster.

While Lady is being fixed up, the male husband groomer is sitting down with Bilbo and building a rapport. Bilbo is warming up a bit and he’s now deemed a reasonable risk but as I said, Geoff was still going in the float with him. No one was taking any chances.

Bilbo has been clipped once before and really was a lot happier after that. Once he was in there and the clip had got started, he was relatively calm. I think he might have remembered that losing his coat was going to be a relief  and started to settle. He was still a wound up spring but he was somewhat compliant.

The clip gets underway. Look at all that fur coming off. As I said, it was like shearing a sheep!

The clip gets underway. Look at all that fur coming off. As I said, it was like shearing a sheep!

The dog groomers were excellent and worked well with him. He wasn’t comfortable but he was clipped.

The clip is almost over...

The clip is almost over…

Then, it was time for his bath. Our poor boy. He really doesn’t like new experiences all that much and getting a bath is definitely something he files under “torture” and “over my dead body”. However, although there was initially a serious scuttle of claws, the bath went relatively well.

A shorn Bilbo having his bath. Looks like he much prefers the salon treatment to the hose.

A shorn Bilbo having his bath. Looks like he much prefers the salon treatment to the hose.

We knew from last time there would be no blow dry. Definitely no blow dry!! That sound was too much like the vacuum cleaner…his usual nemesis!

Suddenly, after all that kerfuffle, it was over. Bilbo was clipped and working as a very good team, we had all succeeded.

Bilbo's even starting to look like a happy camper!

Bilbo’s even starting to look like a happy camper!

“Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. If we do our best, we are a success.”
Zig Ziglar

It was funny when his whole ordeal was over, you could see such a sense of relief. A burden had been lifted. He’s been freed, liberated. Vive la liberte. He was trotting back inside and when Lady saw him, she really did a double take: “What’s happened to you , mate?!! Had a fight with the lawn mower?”

You bet!

We also had a surprise after all that fur had come off. Bilbo has actually lost some weight. I had suspected he’d lost a bit and transferred it to Lady but the shorn coat doesn’t lie. It shows every single ripple and bulge and is just as  unforgiving as a human wearing a wet suit.

Bilbo is now trotting around the house with a real spring in his step. Grumpy dog is almost happy with a new zest for life.

Yes, he really has been set free!!

xx Rowena