Jon and I were driving to see Bob Dylan and Mavis Staples in concert on Friday night when I felt the fear rising up in me. It had been slowly making its presence known throughout the day. Now it was coming in constant waves, starting in my stomach, rising to my heart, and infecting my thoughts, as I drove.
Something happened after I removed the Tree Stand from our property and my anger wore off.
It took a few days, but I started to get scared and make up awful stories about the hunter killing our animals. I imagined coming home and finding them all dead in the pasture.
I knew this was absurd. People where we live, just don’t do things like that. But my fear grew, spreading in my body. That’s when I recognized it as something old. An irrational fear that wasn’t about my taking the Tree Stand down.
It took me a while to understand what was really going on, to find the words to explain it. I didn’t have any regrets or uncertainty that taking down and getting rid of the Tree Stand was the right thing to do. It’s something that my neighbors, who own lots of land, do regularly and don’t think twice about it.
I came to see that the fear I was feeling had to do with my getting angry. And to do with my standing up to the idea of “the man” and this case, “the man with a gun”.
In my life, until very recently, getting angry was a dangerous thing. Provoking anger in someone else, even if I was defending myself, or feeling angry myself was so frightening, I’d do anything to avoid it.
This fear came from growing up with a volatile and violent father. Even a simple difference in opinion about music or a movie, could quickly turn ugly. And somehow I was always made to feel like it was my fault, like I had done something wrong by trying to express what I was feeling and thinking.
I brought this fear to all my relationships, subverting my own voice, needs and desires to “keep the peace”.
Driving home from the concert, I told Jon what I was feeling and that I knew my fear wasn’t rational, that it was old, but I needed to talk about to try to understand it better.
I was feeling guilt and shame, not for taking down the tree stand, but for getting angry and standing up to the hunter. The consequence for my anger and for “stepping out of line”, would be the death of my animals, the worse thing I could imagine. (I never thought of the hunter harming Jon or me, it was the innocent animals, who I was responsible for, that would suffer.)
Once I was able to understand why I was feeling the old fear, it began to subside. I could see that my anger was just and I had funneled its energy into doing something productive in removing the Tree Stand.
I feel like this whole thing has helped me to understand myself and my issues with anger better. It’s another step in becoming a whole and healthy person. And I feel stronger for not by giving into my fear, or hiding from it, but by coming to understanding it and facing it once again.