Oh Dear GOD…
There it is.
My skin is crawling. I’m not even sure if I’m breathing. My hair is literally standing up on end. There’s this sickening feeling in my stomach. I’m frozen in time, helpless.
In front of me, my deepest fear.
Spindly, large, gross….a million words coming out, all to say,
What is it for you?
I mean, YUCK!
What makes your skin crawl and you do EVERYTHING in your power to avoid?
I get it, I ran from spiders for most of my adult life, convinced they were pure evil and would kill me.
I mean, HOW could a spider help me?
This was my fear. This was something to AVOID, not walk towards.
In 2012, I was the dance captain for a production of the musical A Christmas Carol out at the Pioneer Theatre Company in Salt Lake City, Utah. I loved this musical, and I loved the cast.
But my life was falling apart.
On Thanksgiving, my husband flew out to tell me he didn’t want to be married anymore and was in love with another woman.
I felt as if the world had opened wide, and swallowed me whole. I was in shock, and utterly devastated.
I wanted to scream to the world,
I wanted to control the immense change that was happening.
This wasn’t what I planned.
I planned we would go old together.
I planned we would work through any issues.
And most of all, I planned we would have a family together.
In one conversation, I saw all of that disappear.
And I found myself facing my deepest fear,
losing my marriage.
Because, WHO was I if I wasn’t married and trying to have a child?
In December, we had a cast Christmas party, and the company manager brought in a company called.
I walked into the party room to large turtles crawling around, and walked over to my fellow dancers who had a giant boa wrapped around them. I got out my phone to take a picture, as I think snakes are SO cool, and then out of nowhere, a man came up from behind and placed a spider on my friend’s head.
Not just any spider, A TARANTULA.
My whole body froze. I stopped breathing. This wasn’t just any spider, it was the mother of all spiders..the largest.
And then I looked behind this man to see a table with FOUR tarantulas in cages.
My worst nightmare.
I was just about to bolt from the room, when a small voice arose,
I always thought spiders were my largest fear, but facing divorce is far deeper. Since I’m facing that and still breathing, maybe I can finally face this fear of spiders.
I saw an opportunity.
So I walked over to the handler, and asked him to place the tarantula in my hand.
When he first did, the spider started to scratch and crawl in my hand. It was freaking out! I realized I needed to probably calm down because the spider was feeling my fear.
So, I took a breath.
The spider stopped moving, and was standing in my palm, it’s abdomen shaking, and I realized,
It’s just as scared as I am.
And then a wave of realization came over me. The spider was NOTHING like I thought it would be. It was actually soft, light, and fuzzy.
A huge smile came over me, as my fear dissipated, and my friend took a picture.
That picture became my profile picture for months on Facebook, because every time I looked at it, I was reminded,
If you can hold a tarantula, you can do anything.
And anything included,
surviving and healing from a divorce
launching my own successful arts business
Who knew the key was in my biggest fear?
In that moment, my arachnophobia vanished. It literally disappeared when I realized what I had in common with the spider, and that I was still breathing and ok. My fear vanished when I LET GO of the woman who ran from spiders.
Who was she anyway? She was really just made up in my mind. She wasn’t permanent.
So, what is your biggest fear?
WHO would you become if you no longer had it?
What would be possible for you in your Creative Life?
So often, we isolate and avoid our fears, but the real lesson lies in facing them. We may have formed a massive belief the fear will harm us, but what we are really avoiding is the FEELING.
If your fear of heights or snakes was faced, and you found yourself still breathing as you skydive or pet a snake, then what other assumptions could be blown apart in your Art?
No one wants my work
I’m a fraud
My work needs to be perfect to be shown
No one will pay that price for my work
I’m not ready
If these are no longer holding you back, perhaps you would find your fears are actually not harmful, but soft and fuzzy.
You just made them far larger than they actually were.
Maybe even as large as a tarantula.
Over the holiday weekend, I was staying at my boyfriend’s house in NJ. I went into the downstairs bathroom, and caught my breath when I looked in the shower stall to see,
A giant spider.
Instead of running from the room, as I would have done five years ago, I sat down and looked at it. I could feel some of the hairs on my arm rising, the old pattern and memory of fear.
The spider was pretty huge, and I knew I needed to get it outside.
I grabbed a glass from the kitchen, and a piece of mail, and placed the glass over the spider. As I lifted the spider closer to me, I became surprised at how small the spider looked up close.
It had looked SO large from a distance.
And I found the closer I was to it, the less scary it appeared. I became curious, looking at it’s markings, as I carried the glass to the backyard.
As I watched the spider crawl in the grass, I marveled at the journey. I could NOT do this five years ago. I would have screamed, and ran from the room, shutting the door, and pleading my man to kill it for me.
And I thought of that woman five years ago, who really thought she was keeping herself safe. And I gave her a hug. I loved her. She was doing the best she could.
And I looked at the yard of this house that will be my home, that will house my children, and I remembered that moment holding the tarantula.
Thank goodness for the tarantula. My biggest fear actually set me free.
The way is always through.
You have everything you need.
Get curious around your fears, and turn towards them. Hold them in your hand, and LOOK at them.
You can’t change what you can’t see.
WHO would you be without them?
WHAT could you create?
Top Photograph: Caitlin Cannon Photography