Monday, April 18, 2011

How Do You Handle Fear?

View of the storm barreling towards my city on Thursday night (photo credit).  Thankfully, despite the impressive appearance, no tornado was spawned from this storm.

The photo above personifies fear for me.

I grew up in tornado alley.  I should be one of those that runs outside and looks up as soon as the storm sirens start wailing.  And on clear weather days, I sorta am.  Storms fascinate me.  Unless I'm in the middle of one.

I remember with crystal clear clarity two specific storms.  The first one I experienced as a child, about the age of Princess #1.  That was when I first realized that thunderstorms were more than just loud.  That they could be devastating.  I remember huddling in our hallway covered in blankets, and later escaping out to my dad's place of work (which had a basement) as storm after storm barreled toward us that night. I never looked at clouds in the sky the same after that night.

The second storm imprinted in my mind occurred much later, when I was in college.  An EF-5 storm (the strongest tornado possible) flattened the southern part of our city.  I will never, ever forget seeing my beloved meteorologist on our TV saying "you're going to need to be underground for this one".  It still sends chills down my spine.

And yet, I never really knew what fear was and how it can grip you and hold you captive until I had children.  Suddenly, this Southern Plains gal finds herself in the middle of storms, the same ones of her childhood, except this time with 4 little ones to protect.

The lack of control I feel in those moments often spirals to extreme anxiety.  I feel sick, I feel paralyzed.  I begin envisioning trying to hold on to my babies with a storm angrily swirling about us, tearing our home apart.  My mind can become a terrifying place.

I'm trying to gain control over that.  I can't control the weather.  I can't redirect it's path.  But I can control how I respond to it.  I stay informed about the weather during storm season.  Hubs has hinted that I'm probably a teeny bit obsessive about it (ok, alot obsessive), but for me KNOWING what is happening gives me a tiny bit of the illusion of control.  Then I feel like I know how to prepare.  Our home (as most around here) does not have a basement, and building a storm shelter is financially an impossibility right now (believe me, I've researched!).  So we've sought out other safe places to be.  We of course have an interior closet to hide in, but if given the opportunity we seek out a more sturdy place.  Hubs does this for me, I know, because it's a major inconvenience and kind of a pain in the rear.  But he loves me, and knows I feel better when I feel like we are safe.

In addition to knowledge, and preparation, I also spend alot of time praying.  On stormy days a prayer is always on my mind.  I pray for safety, for peace and mostly for protection of my mind.  Much of my anxiety stems from anticipation and fear of what will never be.  So I pray that I may focus not on the fear and I work to take control over those poisonous thoughts.

A healthy respect for Mother Nature is not a bad thing I think.  I may get teased for not running out to my front porch or flat out ignoring the sirens and warnings altogether.  But I know what I need to do for myself and for my family to keep the fear from running my life.  And for that I don't apologize.  I may be a chicken, but I'm proud of it!

My friends, maybe you don't fear storms, but we all have something in our life that invokes those feelings of anxiety, anticipation and complete lack of control.  How do you deal with your fear?  Is it something you have to face on a regular basis?


  1. I don't fear the storms as much, and I may tease you about it, BUT, I've never understood the goobers that go watch the tornado barreling towards them thinking everything'll be alright.

  2. You have every right to fear storms when you have children. I think once you have a child your fears grow to cover everything. I'm now afraid to cross keystone dam in a storm or ice if I have kids in my car for fear that if I went off the bridge I couldn't save all the kids. I think our brains are hard wired to fear things others would never think about.

  3. whole day today was all about attempting to handle my fear with some semblance of grace. Totally different reasons, but definitely still in the realm of what many others would consider unreasonable. Step by step, breath by breath, and prayer after prayer. Ummm, and then I stopped on the way home and bought a new purse. :-)

  4. Retail therapy definitely helps! ;-)

  5. I just want to hug you! I completely understand. I grew up in the Pacific NW and when I moved to OK I was absolutely terrified of these incredible storms we have. But over the years I have relaxed a bit. Since we moved to this house, and have a storm cellar in the garage, I breathe even easier. But if I'm at school and storms kick up, I'm scared, but aware, and I worry like crazy about my own kids, but do everything I can to keep my students safe.

  6. I lived in OR for almost two years and it wasn't until I moved there that I realized how much anxiety I lived with on a daily basis while in the Plains. I actually loved thunderstorms in OR! Unfortunately life brought us back to the Plains and my anxiety has increased tenfold.

  7. I remember the first time I was truly afraid of a storm, we were awakened at 6 am by sirens going off, we had no time to check the news, just ran to the bathroom to hide. I was laying in the bathtub nursing my 2-month-old (first child) to keep her calm and feeling like I was going to throw up because I was so scared! (And this was BEFORE the horrible May 3 and the get below ground statement!) I agree about praying, it does help. I would also recommend getting a storm shelter as soon as you can afford it. That has made all the difference in my fear. Now that we have one I stay aware but I am not nearly as afraid.

  8. oh my we had tornados this weekend too less than a mile from our house and several homes in the neighborhood next too ours were damaged very badly. Some very sad stories from NC this weekend:( I'm glad you are okay and that your family is okay. Storms are scary when we feel powerless to keep our family safe. I too said a prayer this weekend for safety and protection from the one who can calm the storms and he kept us safe praise the Lord but, still I understand what you are saying. We kept our daughter up late with us so that we could make sure she stayed as safe as possible but, still...there is no basement in our house so none of us felt safe.

    I think I fear the day that I won't be able to protect my daughter from harm. Real harm...I want to always keep her safe and protect her but, I have to let her go. Soooo hard. I work through fear with prayer..such a powerful weapon to combat fear!! great post friend!

  9. I'm so glad to hear you are ok! The devastation in NC is terrible. I was thinking about you.

  10. You have no idea how I've tried to make our finances work around a shelter! I know I would have much more peace if I just knew I had a safe place to go at any moment. I have come thisclose to just charging it on a card and getting it done so many times. It stinks being financially responsible sometimes. :-(

  11. My family and I lived in central arkansas for almost 5 years until last January. During the time that we lived in Arkansas, I was known as the crazy tornado lady - especially after we had a child. Whenever severe thunderstorms were coming, I'd stuff the diaper bag full including my wallet, keys to various things and make sure my laptop was all backed up online, just in case I didn't have time to grab it. I would put the very stuffed diaper bag, a few huge soft blankets and flashlight into our big bathroom bathtub. 9 times out of 10, I didn't have to take shelter but it made me feel like I was prepared as I could be. This is why I had the nickname crazy tornado lady. About 2 weeks after my youngest was born, my husband was very thankful that I was crazy tornado lady. We had some straight line winds rip through our back yard and take out our power for several days. The thing was - we didn't have to worry about finding this or that because it was all packed and in the bathroom. I beleive in the power of prayer whole heartedly but I also believe that God wants us to be prepared too.

  12. so glad to hear you guys are ok. storms can be so scary. i imagine the threat of a tornado would be very frightening...


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