On the plane ride to Austin I read most of the ebook Flinch by Julien Smith, something I had heard about on Robb Wolf’s fantastic podcast. To horribly paraphrase, The Flinch is about that moment where your brain tells you to avoid something and the choice you have whether or not to ignore it. I think of the time I went bungee jumping. Standing on that ledge, my brain was SCREAMING, “Do not jump. Turn around. Walk away.” The beautiful release and freedom I experienced when I ignored my brain and jumped anyway was good enough to make me request a second jump 10 minutes later. Flinch talks about how we need to ignore our brains every day, when they tell us to avoid doing things that scare us, when they allow us to feel comfortable in the familiar.
I took the book’s message to heart, because I see all too often people too scared to do what is good for them. It seems to happen to women a generation or two older than me a lot. Staying in marriages that don’t satisfy them, staying at jobs they hate, being scared to move, being scared to change their lifestyle. I am scared of this happening to me.
So, I encountered my flinch as much as possible during my trip to Austin. I broke out of my introverted shell and tried to get over my fear of people thinking I am an idiot: I have this horrible voice inside my head that tells me everything I say is stupid. I ignored it. I acted like myself (the goofy, sarcastic dork that I am). I walked up to people and just talked to them (sounds pretty innocuous, but it is so hard when you are this self-critical). I smiled at everyone I walked past. I tweeted the whole damn event. And, I loved it. I really love looking the flinch in the eye and flipping it off. Nothing makes me feel more free.
But now I am back home and I can’t find the flinch anymore. My life here is monotonous at best. I worked 4 days this week (Monday was a snow day) and I still managed to be there 44 hours. I have to go in this weekend to deal with the financial stuff. I also have to cook, clean, do laundry, and clean the office. I have no time for the flinch.
So, that is “thing that scares me #1”: losing the flinch.
Thing that scares me #2 is maybe more frightening. I am scared about my brain. Not the mean part that I was talking about earlier (that part is just a mean bitch I gotta ignore), but the intelligence part. I alluded to being sick in an earlier post, and most of what ailed me is gone. But the most noxious part, the brain fog, is still there. When this whole thing started in July 2011, the brain fog was so bad I slurred my speech and felt drunk and confused all the time. I felt physically disconnected from the world because the fog was acting as a barrier. It has improved, but not enough for my liking. I still come home every night too tired to read all the scientific literature and blogs I have accumulated. I am still so ADD that I can’t get through writing a paragraph without getting distracted. I still have not managed to finish a book in months. Reading used to be my favorite pastime ever. Now I zone out when I try to read anything at a higher level than a recipe.
What is so frustrating to me about this is I don’t know how to fix it. I have had my hormones checked, my throid, my adrenal stress index, my micronutrient levels. And it is hard for anyone to understand. I act normal, I sound moderately intelligent in conversation, so what is the problem? Well, it’s my brain and I know something is wrong.
My mom never met her dad. But we recently found out he died of Alzheimer’s. And there you have my deepest, darkest fear (for both me and my mom): dementia.
I am not there yet (and my 61-year-old cross-fitting mom is doing great) and this is probably just some issue like depression, manifesting as brain fog, but it scares the crap out of me. Especially since I will be starting my M.S. next month.
So there you have it. My fears. What scares you?