Thursday, August 6, 2009

#56 Smart Vaginas Don't Cut Through Dark Alleys

Sitting at an outdoor cafe this evening, I told some friends a story. This story took place in Washington DC, back in the 90's during a date with my boyfriend [now my husband]. The story went like this: My honey and I were on our way to theater when he recommended that we save time by cutting through an alley. I looked at him and said, "I have a vagina". He started laughing and asked me what that meant. I told him smart vaginas don't cut through dark alleys. He took my hand, and still laughing said that he and my vagina needed to pick up the pace if we were going to get to the show on time.

My friends were laughing at the sillyness of this, but the seriousness of the story was definitely understood. In the book, Burnt Toast by Terri Hatcher, she writes that for most of her life, until pretty recently, she was ruled by fear. I can't empathize with her, but I know for a fact that I haven't done, gone nor experienced many things because of fear.

In my experience, life provides examples of situations where one learns to fear where there was no fear before. I learned about dark alleys through such an experience. I used to go to the movies by myself before my night shift in the emergency room. It was during one of these night shifts though that the decision to end my solo movie jaunts was made. While suturing a trauma patient's wounds, she told me that she was attacked on her way home from her friend's apartment [something she had done many times before]. She was hit on the back of the head, pulled behind a dumpster in an alleyway, and threatened with a knife. With a gash to her head and blood dripping into her eyes, she said she fought like crazy because she knew that she was going to be raped and/or killed. Thankfully the assault was interrupted by a group of college kids who heard the scuffling and struggling noises and were nosy enough to do a look-see. Later, while writing up her chart, I saw on the police report that she was attacked one block from "my" movie theater. Reading that report made me realize that I could have possibly been the one being sutured. Since then, evening movies alone are not on my to do list.

This brings me to handstands. In Anusara yoga, inversions [handstands, shoulder stands, headstands] are part of almost every class. The first time I heard that we were going to do handstands, I didn't join in. I watched. I was scared. Actually, I was petrified. I couldn't think logically about this new asana [posture]. Forget the fear of falling, in my mind, I was so scared I thought I could potentially die. It was after seeing people in their 50s and 60s do this pose that I decided not to let fear make this decision for me. It took a few more classes to find the guts, but the day came when I decided I was ready. I listened to the rules of handstands; I put my hands flat on the mat, looked up between my arms, put my shoulders on my back, walked my legs as close to my body as I could, lifted my right leg and pushed off. Ouch!! I fell and hit my shoulder and elbow on the floor. Long story short, I was even more scared the second, third, and fourth times, but I persevered and finally got my legs above my head. What a feeling; what an accomplishment.

While writing this babble, I reviewed times in my life that I didn't let fear stop me as well as those times that I allowed fear to win. This is what I can share --the next time you stop yourself from doing something because of fear, remember my story. I'm not advocating bungee jumping, or cliff diving, or walking on dark streets alone, or finally calling "that" guy, but whatever it is that you are scared of doing, weigh the risks [dark alley or the long way], and decide with the analytical side of your brain and not the emotional side. Believe me, overcoming fear builds one's self confidence, helps you grow emotionally, and shows you that you are capable of more than you think. Next on my list, jumping off the highboard at the swim club. Yikes!

Quote of the Day: "The mode by which inevitable comes to pass is effort" Oliver Wendell Holmes


Jeve (aka John and Steve) said...

Good advice from a smart vagina!

Anonymous said...

That's a scary story about your friend with sutures. My vagina and I have been lucky so far, not always so smart.

I agree with everything you said about overcoming fear, working on that these days, with regard to social situations, like approaching people and making small talk, stuff like that. I learned to dive off high board as a kid, it's scarier than it looks.