How did you learn to overcome your fear? The question was asked of me by Kristin at breakfast of oatmeal and coffee.
Most of us spend our lives running away in fear. Our fear will cause us to do things that our conscience finds incongruous to who we are. We are most of the time being told to release our fear, to embrace love and walk away from fear . My grandmother would say that its easy to say but hard to do. And she is right. Life is like a mansion. Each room represents a challenge, a weakness and a triumph. Some rooms are scary to enter while others are scary to leave . For most of us, stepping into an unfamiliar room hidden by a scary door can be daunting. I was raised by my grandmother. This statement for many is as familiar as saying I was raised by the devil. She was anger and rage in physical form. I came to hear later on in life that she carried around a flask of rum in her pockets. She was only four feet eleven inches and a force of terror for my sisters and me. The eldest of four, my job was to bath and change my younger siblings, cook the meals, unless later when I started having my period and then I was unclean and must sit on my hands so I did not contaminate her food; sweep the yard and wash the dishes We had moved from the. wattle adobe house that my grandparents built and lived in for most of their married life to the new cinder block house with the concrete floors. But we did not have a kitchen as yet, just a lean-to made of corrugated zinc leaned up against long branches forming a makeshift kitchen. Dirty dishes were to be washed at the side of the house on a makeshift table made of mahogany planks from the floorboard of the old house.
On this occasion, dinner was served on my grandmother’s special occasion china plates. They were all piled up on the uneven plank beside the yellow plastic bowl filled with warm water and dish soap. I set to washing the dishes, careful not to make a chip in them for fear of the consequences. Maybe I was concentrating too much on not breaking the plates too much. Maybe this made me careless, maybe the fates wanted to teach me a lesson. Maybe it was my grandfather showing up to torture me from the grave. Whatever it was, that day I learned the power of facing my fear. I set the last of the rinsed plates down on top of the others and something shifted. I stood helplessly and watched as the white chalk plate slid off the stack. It slid down the steep hill not breaking nor chipping in its rush to escape and landed at the bottom shattering into pieces. I stood in silence, fear poured out of my face in sweat, my heart rate increased and I listened for the angry sound of my grandmother rushing to punish me for breaking her plate.