Underneath It All...I think I'm Afraid When There's Nothing Wrong

(artist:Cyndi Lauper/song: Fearless)

I skew slightly crazy. My friends and family know this to be true. I am the queen of irrational fear. For example, my fear of flying is not your run-of-the-mill fear of flying. Mine only started after I got engaged and finally had something good happening in my life; I convinced myself something awful would happen before I made it down the aisle. My then-fiancé put it to me best with, "If God hates you so much, why is he taking 200 other people?" Touché. My pretend-mom, who I have to call before every flight, always says, "Al (she calls me Al), is this a rational thought?" NO! But I still can't control the fear.

And that trick is called "Xanax".

So when I was cleared for PT and able to go outside on my own, I was terrified. I just knew I would be violently attacked - most likely with my cane - while I was taking my daily 10-minute walks. I was hyper-aware of my surroundings and suspicious of everyone. They all wanted to maim me. Especially that 4-year-old kid that rides his scooter in front of his dad's bodega. I felt so exposed, vulnerable and weak, and overwhelmingly afraid. So in addition to overcoming the physical limitations of back surgery, I would have to overcome the mental ones. 

During one of my PT sessions, my therapist pointed out that I was walking really stiffly. I told her that I was afraid of doing something that might hurt my back and land me in the hospital again. Then she sat me down and explained that, although we are conditioned to believe that our spines and backs are extremely fragile - whether through adverts for pain meds or stories of woe from our achy friends - they are actually very strong and malleable.  Since it only took about half a session for her to pick up on my brand of crazy, she told me that this was yet another irrational fear and that I should stop walking like a robot. Then she promptly added exercises that forced me to twist and turn my spine.

I was so scared my spine would snap like a twig. It didn't...

And guess what, I didn't break in half. Nor did anyone attack me on on the street in my most physically vulnerable moments. (I've also never been in a plane crash.) Now, if I can apply that same rational thinking to my overall life, the scared girl that wrote this post on her 40th birthday, might be damn near perfect by her 50th. Imagine that. 

If it's on a greeting card, you know it's true.