The physicalness of fear

The physical sensation of fear is so odd.

It’s been a long time since I felt it. I can usually recognize it as excitement or anticipation and just sit and be with it.

But today I’m scared. I could feel it churning in my belly, writhing and flexing. The roll and boil of it pulling me inward.

I could feel it in my head, the fuzz and static of it, noise over noise over noise and then the soft din turned to a roar of whirring raucous chatter. My cheeks got buzzy and hot. The whooshing slosh of moving emotion thumped against my eardrums.

I drove and it was all so distracting. The eyelids fluttered, pinching and opening to blink away the tingle and burn of tears.

The lungs that fill me with life giving breath began to falter. Half capturing each intake of air. Constricted and gasping.

I breathed and attempted to center myself. Instead I managed to feel it all more intensely.

I chose to choose it. Be with it. Sink into it and allow it space.

Fear is such a covert transient. It attaches itself, with barbs of what if and maybe. But masquerades as some passing cloud.

Nothing had happened. The simple thought, the vibrant imaginings of what could be, that was where the fear grew. That is where the seed of it sprouted and was pushing against the walls of my gut.

I’ve been living in the land of ‘what if’ for sometime. It’s been eating me alive. The fear hasn’t been there, the physicalness of it at least. It’s just been sleepless nights and wondering about the worst. Thinking up scenarios, daydreaming about the worst.

I wouldn’t say I’ve been depressed but that is how it’s manifested it’s presentation in my space. It’s been dark. It’s been lonely. It’s been pretty effing horrible.

I hadn’t allowed myself to consider that the source of the gnawing wretchedness wasn’t physical at all but rather the lurking black of what could be. The unknown.


I sat on the exam table wearing a giant paper towel over my lap and waiting for the door to open the door.

The ultrasound explained the pain but showed that it’s not life threatening and there’s nothing to be done about it. Just a crazy enlarged ovary that is likely having larger than normal cysts. An ovary that reaches and wraps around the back and is tender to the touch. No cancer. No tumors. Nothing to fear.

The next part wasn’t so bad either. She did an exam and explained that sometimes our childbearing bodies have extreme physical changes as we age and have babies. She told me that my bladder and uterus aren’t going to fall out, even if it feels like they might.
Nothing to fear. No surgery needed for now.

The searing heat in my belly faded to butterflies and then as they fluttered and seemingly stuck to the walls of my innards, something replaced them for a moment. Something slithering and cold.


I felt momentary shame for being there, for asking the questions that had nearly eaten my soul. I felt silly. Silly for thinking I could die from the pain of an angry ovary. Silly for actually wondering if my guts could fall out. Just silly.

Then she handed me a small card with a box checked next to ‘suicide/crisis hotline’ and explained that if I ever felt myself spiral, ever felt the darkness get too heavy, I should call the number or go to Sacred Heart ER and see their mental health nurse.

More shame.

Shame for feeling alone. Shame for not reaching out when I knew I should have. Shame for making the pain the reason I hid and the reason I kept to myself. Shame that when I did reach out and nothing happened, I made myself wrong for trying.

Shame for letting so many things pile up and take over my space so much that I barely recognized myself.

I went to see my doctor today because I was afraid that there was something inside me growing and trying to kill me. I was afraid of what I couldn’t see but felt so deeply was there. I went to see if my hormones were ok, my head was ok and if my lady parts were going to hold up for a few more years. Nothing to fear.

I pushed the elevator button and wondered if I had grown the darkness inside. I wondered if I had fed it with the wondering. I thought of all the questions I shook about until their seeds fell on fertile soil…ready to grow and consume my thoughts and mind.

Being brave in the face of fear isn’t easy.

Sitting with that physical sensation of all consuming emptiness. It’s a thing if I say it is. I don’t want it to be but I choose that it has taken up space in my life and that it’s not always forward fear. Sometimes it’s loneliness, worry or anxiety.

Sometimes it’s just the uncertainty of a thing that mocks me. And today I checked a few things off that list.