Tuesday, June 16, 2009

When I Have Fears

"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face."
Eleanor Roosevelt.

I underestimated the power of a single bee-sting.  Pip will never be the same.  Once upon a time she scampered happily along forest trails, ran barefoot on the grass, calmly observed busy bees collecting nectar, and she slept without a night-light.   Now she screams when she even hears a bee, she finds forest walks terrifying, and she want the door to her bedroom left wide open at night to let in as much light as possible.  That one little bee has changed her life.

I understand why her world has been turned upside-down.  Up until the bee-sting, pretty much everything in her world was well-ordered.  She had experienced physical pain before, but it was always logical, and often predictable: she tripped and fell on the cement, so her knee got scraped.  It was time for her vaccination, and her arm stung from the needle.  She had a bad cold, and her throat was sore.  Pip could make sense of her pain.  

The bee-sting, however, made no sense whatsoever.  There she was, merrily frolicking on a lovely forest trail, completely minding her own business when a strange insect injected himself into her forehead to produce the most intense sting of Pip's young life!  It was a completely unanticipated, random event.  So now, Pip doesn't know what to expect next!  She's a nervous wreck!

Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little.  She's still enjoying life, but now she has moments of extreme anxiety, whereas her 'pre-sting'  world was a much safer place.  Last night she woke up saying that beetles were crawling on her arms.  We had to change her bed-sheet because it was patterned with leaves and vines and she thought there were bugs crawling on them.   When we go for walks now, I have to make a public announcement to all of the bees: "Attention all Bees, please leave Pip alone today.  If you're in the mood for stinging, please come and sting me, I can take it.  And while you're listening, please leave Crazybaby alone too.  Thank you, Bees and have a nice day," and Pip repeats,
"Thank you Bees."   

If I'm tempted to trivialize this experience of Pip's, this shift in the way her world works, I need only look at my own life.  When have I questioned the way the Universe was unfolding?  When have I felt that life wasn't fair?   I have no shortage of examples.  I suspect none of us do.

So I'll treat Pip's fears with the respect they deserve, and I'll do whatever I can to help her face them.   I have to admit, though, that when we head out for our walk and I find myself saying, 'Thank you, Bees,' what I'm really thinking is, 'Damn you Bees!'