Thoughts on Fear part 2: Guns and Dreams

In the months leading up to Nicaragua, I began to have trouble sleeping sometimes. My bedtime habits have never been admirable, but since I kinda got my life together, I’ve been better at sleeping. Now sometimes I even floss before bed. In the last few years, I have found my comfort zone

My recent bout of insomnia correlated with not just with my newly purchased solo plane ticket to Central America, but also with disturbing news stories I had oddly begun finding right before bed. I’ve always read lots of news, but never have I been so affected by the stories. One journalist was beheaded in a submarine by a man she was meant to be interviewing. A huge earthquake hit Mexico. A Ted Talk revealed current human trafficking and slavery. I kept reading stories on people going missing. Every day a new fact about the world held my eyelids open at 3 a.m. and demanded I consider that, as a female, I was the physically weaker sex. To go places on my own was extra dangerous, in a world that could already be pretty horrible.

The last time I was consistently scared was when I lived alone in my Grandma’s beautiful but very big and empty farmhouse in Kentucky for several summers in a row. It was the most rewarding natural place during the day; when I wasn’t at work I was picking wild blackberries and gardening.
grandmas house
Nighttime was different. I would turn the radio on, say peaceful mantras, and stay up late talking to friends on the phone. The only time I ever felt I could sleep peacefully through the night was when someone slept over.

One night during my first summer in Kentucky, I was up late on my computer. Suddenly I had a flashback to the dream I had had that very morning. I’d forgotten about it all day, but it came crashing back to my brain. I dreamed that while I was at my laptop at my grandma’s house, a man had gotten in and snuck up behind me. Engrossed in Facebook or whatever, I had failed to notice he had entered until I felt the cool pressure of barrel of the gun against the back of my head.

arm holding gunAs the remembrance of the morning’s dream dawned on me for the first time that evening, the foreshadowing in my brain was off the chain. “This is it,” I thought. I began messaging every friend I could think of to try to calm down, but my revelation had me royally freaked out.

This was the night that I would die, I decided.

As I began to pace around the house while turning on every light and checking the pathetic excuse for a lock to the basement, I thought about my family who lived close by. I knew that if I showed up terrified I could easily sleep at theirs and save my life forever. But as this thought became more and more enticing, my final shred of logic wouldn’t let go of the thought that I was being a bit irrational.

Before I dialed up one of my aunts to explain to them that, based on my intuition, this was the night the universe had decided I should be murdered, I courageously decided to wait an hour and see how I felt. As the minutes ticked and I pondered in the den of the of the most well-lit house in Warren County, Kentucky, I began to think that perhaps this was a litmus test for how wild I could let my imagination run. By the end of that hour my logical side had talked my emotional side into a plea-bargain. I would stay here. I wouldn’t tell my family I was scared. I would stay up all night (of course), and if a murderer broke into my house and killed me, I would die knowing that my intuition was in fact right, and that I was paying the ultimate consequence for not trusting my gut. If I made it through the night and no one tried to kill me, I would learn a lesson about this soul strangling fear that hit me earlier and how despite its emotional power on me, it actually has so very little to do with the situation that I’m in.

Needless to say, I lived to blog about it. Up until my Nicaragua trip, overcoming that fear had been a fantastic reminder for all kinds of situations that just because I felt scared didn’t mean I was always in danger.

So why couldn’t I shake my uncertainties about Nicaragua? What was different?

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