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Monday, May 21, 2012

Fear

The only thing to fear is fear itself. Winston Churchill.

Humans are the only living creature that will sense fear but won't run from it.
God gave every living creature an internal mechanism that senses fear and responds to save its life. If you make a sudden move towards a dog or cat, they will run away.

I watched a  personal safety expert on a TV show once said women are the worst when it comes to their personal safety. He explained, through his research, if a women was waiting for an elevator and the doors opened to expose a seedy looking biker type guy with one hand behind his back like he was hiding something (life a knife) eight of ten women would get on the elevator with him because they didn't want to seem impolite or ignorant. The other two said they would have pretended they forgot something and walked away. None would say "No thanks I'll wait for the next elevator." Even though every fiber in their body, that God given mechanism to sense fear, tells them not to get into the elevator, most would. They will put a stranger's feelings ahead of their own security.
Think about it; they would willingly walk into a steel box with a stranger that creeped them out, where no one could hear the scream, rather than make the guy feel bad about himself.

The expert  said the same experiment with men had different results. Five out of ten wouldn't get into the elevator. Two said they would wait for the next elevator. Three got in because they said they were bigger than the guy who was in the elevator but would be ready to defend themselves if anything happened.
Interesting stuff.

I am a big believer in going with your gut instinct or my "Spidy Senses." They have never failed me. I always thought I would be able to handle a situation where I felt fearful but, it turns out, I would not.
Recently I woke from a nightmare. I dreamt that I was lying in my bed half asleep (as I was) and I could hear my son about to leave the house to catch the morning school bus.  I heard another male voice talking to him but I couldn't make out who it was. Then I heard my daughter's voice. She had caught the school bus a half hour earlier. I called out "Who are you talking to?" My son yelled back, "Guess who's home from school sick?" Then I thought, how did she get home. I could hear heavy footsteps coming up the stairs towards my bedroom and a man walked into my room. He said, "She was sick and I brought her home." I was confused and said "She's not allowed to leave the school with anyone but me." Before I could finish the sentence the man lay on the bed next to me and put his hand over my face.  I was screaming "Stop, Stop!" but the words wouldn't come out. At that moment I woke up, shaking not knowing if it was real or not. I ran down stairs, no one was around. I ran back up stairs and looked at the clock. It was 9:30 AM. Everyone was gone to school. It was just a weird dream. I went back down stairs and put coffee on and let the dog out in the back yard.

It was such a nice morning that I left the dog out and locked the back door while I jumped in the shower. I was shampooing my hair when I heard footsteps coming upstairs. I knew both doors were locked so I said to myself, "It's just your mind playing tricks on you. Don't go there." I continued to rinse the shampoo out and thought I heard someone walking from room to room. I thought if anyone was in the house the dog would be barking by now. Then it hit me. I locked the dog outside. I told myself "Get a hold of yourself. You had a bad dream and now you're paranoid.  Every women thinks there's an axe murderer outside the shower curtain. Stop being so dramatic."
I continued showering when I thought I heard the toilet flush in the ensuite off my bedroom. I thought to myself, I should jump out and lock the bathroom door or open the window so if anyone was out there at least the neighbour would hear me scream. My gut and my Spidy Senses were screaming at me to sense the fear and protect myself, but the woman in me was saying "No, I don't want to give in to the fear. "

At that moment the bathroom door opened and my husband poked his head in to say he was home because he forgot something. I let out the blood curdling scream and called him everything but a good Catholic. I shook for the rest of the day.
What really pissed me off about the whole thing was that I know better. I know I should have left the dog in the house while I put myself in the most vulnerable position, in the shower away from the phone. When I heard the first sound of someone in the house I should have jumped out, locked the door, put on a bathrobe and called out the window to my neighbour who I knew was in her yard gardening. I should have looked for something in a drawer that I could have defended myself with. But I didn't. I was afraid to look like I was crazy. That mistake could have caused me my life.

Then I thought of my daughter. What would she do if a stranger rang the door and forced himself in. What would she do if she was home alone and heard someone down stairs. I remember watching an interview with the father of a missing child. He said, "I taught my son to play baseball. I taught him to respect his elders but I never taught him how to scream. Screaming would have saved his life. The stranger asked him to go for a walk and he was too polite to say no." On the video you can see the stranger smiling at the boy and extending his hand. The boy is a little hesitant at first but reaches up and takes his hand. Then they walk away. Never to be seen again. The way he hesitated proves his gut told him no but he didn't listen to it.
I taught my kids to scream. When they were toddlers I always told them if someone makes you feel uncomfortable or tries to take you, scream "Fire." No one looks at a child crying, screaming "No" they would think it was a temper tantrum. Everybody comes running when you scream "Fire."

I thought I was the one woman who would look into the elevator and say "I'll wait for the next one thanks" but apparently I am the women who would walk right in. We're given all kinds of warning signs before danger happens. Maybe my nightmare was my minds way of saying "Be on alert!" Next time I will.
Today I will sit down with my children and go through the "Stranger danger" rules again. Today I will teach my children that it is ok to be impolite if your gut tells you something is not right. Today I will make sure they remember how to scream.

Today I will give these same lessons to myself. God created "Women's Intuition" for a reason, it's that mechanism that protects us. Listen to it.
Don't be that woman who gets in the elevator. Be the woman who says, "No thanks. I'll wait for the next one."