When Fear Knocks

I wrote here about a time when fear, in all its true and visceral and heart racing madness visited me. And I remind myself often that this was minor, small and no big deal in comparison to what could have been, to what other people walk through every day. I have never been the mother of a missing child. I have never held a line in battle.

Turns out, fear affects us in ways we can’t even see, in ways that seem like a page out of a science fiction pulp. You can’t take that stuff seriously. Right?

Fear ignites certain hormones, and shuts down others. The brain becomes wired to threat, and in affected persons, the brain refuses to sort out a real threat from, say, the sound of a car engine. When in the thick of a true fight or flight response, the heart races, tunnel vision takes over, the brain focuses on survival, letting every other system shut down.

Incidentally, this is very much what happens in birth for mammals. A laboring rabbit will find a safe, quiet place to deliver, while her body literally forces all energy to the muscles and systems that are required. So fear is valuable. It’s also debilitating.

I’m working on a story about the brain and PTSD, and at the same time thinking about the anonymous posts we shared last summer. In a cultural experiment that will dovetail both of those segments, I’m introducing The Anonymous Project: fear

Would you consider sharing an ANONYMOUS story with us about a time you experienced fear? How has fear shaped you? How do you handle fear? Did you overcome a fear? What about faith and fear; how are those linked? The same policies as last summer: you email me the post, I do a light edit, and I protect your identity as if I’m the gatekeeper of the secret lair. Please try to keep it a narrative, a story rather than an opinion piece. Tell us what happened, paint us a picture. You can even share a poem or short fiction, but all told between 400-800 words.

Send them here: jennifer@jenniferluitwieler.com