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“Fear is the heart of love.”
This is a song lyric by Death Cab for Cutie, and these lyrics speak to me.
Fear is the heart of love. Breaking the meaning of this down in my mind, I’ve ultimately come to the conclusion that all fear occurs because we love. Our love of something or someone drives us toward the fear of loss or disappointment, the fear of failure, the fear of not being enough.
We don’t want to let anyone down, we don’t want our flaws to burden or to “spill out.”
We live in a society full of pressures, unrealistic expectations, and instant gratification. We let the world believe we are happy and healthy by posting smiling pictures or motivational quotes on our social media.
We work hard and chase dreams, but at the end of the day, we are afraid.
I’ve realized our fear can break us or mold us; it can paralyze us or drive us. If we let our fear hold us back from tackling a dream or an idea, if we listen to the voices of doubt and self-limiting beliefs, we miss out on the opportunity for victory or failure. Yes, you read that correctly, we miss out on the opportunity for failure.
Failure is an opportunity to grow, to learn, to become better. We can’t grow without learning. We can’t become better without making mistakes or taking a blind leap of faith.
We should face our fears—if for no other reason than because we love. We should be willing to grow in abundance, whether it be abundance of knowledge or abundance of success. Fear is a sign we care, we love, and we treasure what we have. Fear is the felt sense of growth about to happen—it’s a door to enlightenment and abundance. We need only to open it and walk through.
Four years ago, on May 18th, my third daughter was born.
It had been a long and difficult pregnancy. I was sick every single day up to delivery, I had trouble gaining weight, and I had high blood pressure. It was hard to function.
During this same time, my parents were going through a horrible divorce. I felt like I was being split apart, almost literally. I was constantly in pain—emotionally and physically—stressed, overloaded, and overworked. I’d been working as a full-time project manager, taking care of my other two children, and trying to nurture my marriage, all while my foundation was crumbling. Everything I had always known was being flipped upside down and changing. Add that to constantly being sick, I was ready for peace and to find my new normal.
When our daughter made her debut (three weeks early) I thought the hardest part would be behind us. I thought we would get to start the forever I have envisioned.
Six weeks later, that dream was shattered.
From the moment we brought our daughter home, nothing got easier. I was hit with postpartum depression. My easygoing and lovable two-year-old had flipped a switch and became hard to deal with. My moody yet fun and artistic five-year-old started having behaviors that I had never seen. As if all that wasn’t enough, my newest daughter didn’t sleep at night, at all, and my other two were up with the sun and ready for mommy time. There was no time to rest, no time to breathe, or for self-care. Life became smothering, overwhelming.
And then I began to notice my youngest daughter was fussy and hard to console if I wasn’t nursing or holding her. I started noticing strange movement while nursing her. I did a little research and became scared, convinced she was having seizures.
We contacted our family pediatrician, and he believed what we were seeing was acid reflux related. This being my third daughter, I had to strongly disagree. Because he knew me as a mom and my mothering style, he went ahead and ordered an EEG, “to play it safe and to bring peace of mind.” Four days later, our lives changed forever.
Our youngest was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. It’s a rare condition that causes tumor growth in all the major organs of the body (brain, eyes, lungs, heart, kidneys, and skin). Each case and person is impacted completely differently, and the list of symptoms are endless.
For our daughter, she has seven tumors in her brain and a few in her kidneys. We were told she may never walk, talk, or function in a normal life. We were told she was having complex seizures of multiple kinds and may never achieve seizure freedom. We were told she had a 50 percent chance of being autistic.
The hardest thing we were told is she may also live a normal life, but only time will tell.
The not knowing was awful. Even thinking about that day, in this moment, it brings back the most horrendous sensation of guilt, grief, and sadness.
Fear began to control me. Fear of my daughter’s condition, the unknowns, the seizures, the drugs—you name it, I was terrified. Most of all, I was terrified I wasn’t enough and wouldn’t be able to survive all of what we had been dealt. The next four years would prove to be the hardest years of my life.
Our daughter is extremely impacted, and seizures have had us in and out of the hospital for years. We have tried countless drugs, participated in research studies, and advocated at state capitals to fight for medical funding.
We almost lost hope and I became desperate, until I started dabbling in all natural essential oils and CBD oil approaches. (I have always been a hippie and loved nature and natural remedies.) I also love all things yoga and meditation. Once we started experimenting with our daughter, despite the fear to do so, not knowing the impacts, the results were amazing. She began to make eye contact, she began to develop again, and she started to hit milestones, to engage and learn. She started to have a personality.
We were slowly able to wean her off seven seizure medications, and she now only takes two. We decided she was ready for intervention and therapies to help her develop and support her educational journey. She was diagnosed with non-verbal autism at the age of two. This enabled us to pursue better therapy options that insurance would pay for.
Now that she is four we have achieved seizure control. She is doing amazing. She is starting to talk. She is full of love, light, and joy.
As she got better and started making strides of her own, I then was able to begin focusing on myself again.
During this time, I had become a shell of a person. I had let fear begin to control everything. We stopped traveling, even though we loved it, due to the fear of being far away from her hospitals and doctors. Fear began to control and limit us in so many aspects of our lives. I was stuck, lost, sad, miserable, broken—and I didn’t recognize myself anymore.
I had put so much strength and energy into my family, daughters, and career that I lost myself along the way. I had been choosing not to open the door to get through the other side because of fear. I was refusing to embrace the life I had been given because it wasn’t the life I thought I would have. It was too hard; it wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was pushing everyone away who I loved; I’d been hiding from myself and isolating from everyone else.
I felt ugly, inside and out. My kids saw it, my husband felt it, and my friends and loved ones tried to help, but I was lost. It was a scary moment when I caught myself daydreaming about death. Not suicide, but the peace that death could bring, the relief it would be.
I knew in that moment, I had to get better. I needed to heal and I needed help, so I began the work.
I started therapy, which saved my life. My therapist helped me process my trauma from the previous four years. She helped me identify myself again. She helped me realize that I needed something for myself, something just for me.
Having always loved yoga, I decided I would pursue my yoga teacher training to enhance my knowledge; even though I was afraid I couldn’t manage one more thing, I took a leap of faith. Four months later, I completed my training and my transformation truly began. My perspective changed and my emptiness filled. I decided more people needed this in their life, these tools, these methodologies.
One night, when I was relaxing in the bath tub I heard a voice, clear as a bell, say “you need to start a yoga company called Peace, Love and Yoga. You need to help others heal with your light and story.” Without question, I formed my business. I had no clue, and still don’t, what I was doing. I was terrified, but to my surprise and astonishment, everything fell into place so naturally, despite the fear. As I began to fuel my passion and heal my scars, my happiness began to spill over, my three daughters became happier, and my relationships with my husband, friends, and family began to grow stronger.
Two weeks ago, my husband and I took our daughters on our first vacation in four years to the beach. We drove over 14 hours together. It was an amazing trip.
We stopped at some random park in Mississippi to take a break. I sat on the ground and meditated under a beautiful tree, with the gorgeous sky above, the birds singing, the soft scent of earth and grass in my nose, my kids playing and laughing, and a feeling of joy in my heart I can’t quite express.
It was in that moment I realized that fear was no longer controlling us. That we’d opened our door, we walked through every time fear got in our face, and each time we learned, we grew, we became.
In that moment, I realized I was no longer sad or broken; I was healed and helping heal others.
I’d been through so much trial and error. I had been terrified of our daughter’s condition. I had been terrified we would never feel true happiness again. I had been terrified to start a business because of my fear of failure.
But I was learning so much and growing so much, even in the face of failure. Any time we would fail at one thing, we would try something else. My daughters are thriving, even with ADHD (my oldest), speech issues (my middle), and TSC, autism, and epilepsy (our youngest).
Fear used to keep me in bed and paralyzed. Now, I recognize I was afraid because I love so much. I recognize the feeling of fear as an opportunity, a door to open so that I can get on the other side. A door that will lead me to failure or victory.
I fear because I love. I fear because I am alive. What a wonderful realization that has been.
When I feel fear, I think of Death Cab for Cutie’s lyric, “fear is the heart of love.” I see the door of fear and I run to open it wide just to see what the experience will be on the other side.