I recently had the privilege of holding space for a frightened client as her child went through a complete cycle of a severe asthma attack. What hit me hardest in walking with this mother, was the intense energy of fear. It was a “me too” moment. My own child has put me face to face with deep penetrating fear more than once. This fierce love of our children creates the deepest attachments formed in life. When they are ill, fear of losing them can cut loose in our bodies and beings. There is no ritual to move this energy at this time. Worse, you may even be shamed for feeling it. How many times have you been told, there’s nothing to worry about? You go to the doctor and prescriptions and treatments are prescribed but who is helping us examine and move fear? My best friend (Dr. Julie Von) has often told me that she felt her asthma was wrapped into her mother’s fear and anxiety. She sensed that her body became a way of manifesting her mother’s fears, sadness and other unresolved emotions. If this sounds far-fetched, I encourage you to look deeper. This is not to dismiss the physical realm of asthma or blame her mother. It’s to bring awareness. To continue to completely dismiss the psycho-spiritual aspects of pediatric medicine is absurdly bad science.
A child depends upon us to understand complicated situations or those that feel out of control. Chest tightness and hypoxia definitely signal to the body that things are out of control. If this fearful child is met by the energy of fear from their mother, the potential for the entire situation to build energy towards chaos absolutely follows. Now imagine this same child faced with a calm, grounded mother, acting from intuitive wisdom. Could you imagine how these two scenarios could create a completely different oxygen level in the same child?
So let’s pretend we’re not all the Zen calm mother in the second scenario all the time. Something big happens and we freak the f*ck out. How do we authentically experience our fear and not get it all over our kids?
As my client was battling her fear for her child and his asthma, my own child lay raging fever in his sleep. I was already curious about fear, and now here I was standing in my own. My mindfulness practice helped me to know that I was caught in fear. I cannot stress enough how important a mindfulness practice is to know what is going on! Without I would never have had access to even the first layer, which is simply recognizing the emotion. I feel terrified right now. I then let myself breathe into the arising fear. I literally sat down into this fear and traced it. And there it was. It was connected to the scariest thing in this world. The fear of losing him. I then let myself enter that awful layer. What would it be like if I lost my son? Tears came hard as I dropped in fully. I allowed myself to actually feel the depth of what was happening to me. It didn’t last super long and then the fear shifted. Simply by allowing it to be recognized, experienced and held; fear shifted.
There is no escaping fear when you love the way we do. I agree that it is so very uncomfortable and would rather just not. And then of course there is the bitter irony that it is bravery that is required of us to sit still enough to feel our less desirable feels. To hold honor to what is there in the moment, without judging and welcoming it, will allow what is next to happen. It may be another fear. It may be something entirely different.
Love and tenderness to each of you brave, brave souls as you journey the hard stuff. -Heather