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When Fear Holds You Back

Mary has retired from her job and has focused on her own personal inner journey.

The Hold of Fear


How Fear Took Over My Life

Fear took over my life when I was about 3 years of age. We just moved from the big city, where my older sister and I were born, to my father's village, a tiny place where everyone claimed relations to each other. We moved to live with our grandmother, my father's mother, so my father could work in the city and learn everything he could to start his own business.

Everyone in this village was a relative. There were only about 30 families clustered in three areas. Located in the north cluster, our house was separate from my grandmother's. It was built right beside hers, so my mother did not have to cook as we ate with the family. Our house was the only one with the big porch and we had a verandah full of flowers.

Everyone knew us so we felt safe. Without a worry, my father went to the city, stayed there to work for 5 days and, came home on the weekend. We were always excited to welcome him, most especially, the treats he brought us.


It Started When I Was 3

But although the village was safe, something happened, so unusual for such a tiny village. It was the feast day of St. Joseph, the saint the village worshipped, so a big fiesta was organized. This was a major annual event for the village as visitors, mostly relations, came from other villages, the town, and even the city.

The villagers cleaned and decorated the grounds of the schoolyard and the church. They set up tents so people could shield themselves from the midday sun. Sellers set up stalls on the grounds stocking up on what they think would strongly attract the villagers' money.

Each household prepared its specialty, something only cooked for such a festive occasion because it required so much time and effort. But on this special day, nothing was spared. Dishes kept only for extra special occasions were washed, wiped, and arranged beautifully on the table. Family members dusted furniture, swept the yard, and brought out new curtains and linens. Each one in the household got new clothes, new pairs of shoes and also a bit of money to buy something from the stalls. Excitement peaked as the preparations heightened.


The Moment of Terror

The day came and, in our new outfits, we all went to the beautifully decorated tiny church and heard Mass. We really did not care that Mass took almost the whole morning, as afterward, we enjoyed the specially prepared favorites in different houses and played with visiting kids. The festive air engulfed all of us, as we moved from one group to the other, getting to know more relatives and friends. In the evening, we all gathered on the school grounds. The music was loud and villagers and visitors took to the dance floor and shook their bodies to the tune of the rock and roll. My sister, who was a bit older, was allowed to go with cousins of the same age but I stayed with my mother. As the clock struck twelve, my mother took me home.

She prepared me for bed, but as she was about to read me a story as she usually did, a thud came strongly at our porch. My mother immediately bolted the main door and started pushing furniture to hold the door firmly. She took my hand and brought me close to the door, her body trembling and her eyes were in full panic. She made a sign for me to keep silent and showed me to push hard with my body on the door panel. I followed what she did, but my legs went wobbly and my body shook with fear. I wanted to cry, but I knew I had to help my mother.

More shouts followed, stones hurled at our porch, breaking flower pots. Fear fluttered in my stomach and my belly cramped but pushed I did. At one point, I almost screamed as I saw the glint of a knife inserted in between the door panels. A man was trying to open the door. My hands went cold and clammy and fear gripped my throat. I froze but I pushed even harder. No words passed between my mother and I. We did not want the people outside to know we were in there. We looked at each other in terror but we knew we could not scream. We reigned our panic in and prayed silently for help.

We could hear the flower pots broke, as stones were thrown at our porch. There was no further approach, maybe in fear that the man in our porch had a long knife, but the stones kept coming. The man kept trying to get in, slowly moving his knife to loosen the door hinges and as he did this, our shivers mounted, but there was no way I was giving up. I pushed even more even though my hands felt numb.

There was yet no way of connecting in the village then. There was no telephone. All we could do was pray and hope that beyond the blaring music, people would hear the shouts of people fighting. Though our house was not that far from where the dance was, we knew people were into the festivities and there was little hope of them hearing about the fight. Luckily, some people started to go home and that was when some of them heard the shouting. After seeing what was happening, they immediately brought the village heads to end the fight.


Fear Lodged in Me

That incident brought fear into my life and crippled me. It must have been hidden in my subconscious. For years, I never thought about it. I had buried it a long time ago. But as far as I could remember of my growing up, fear always tormented me. Aside from that, I also wanted things done immediately, even though it was unreasonable to do so. Why was this so, my father would ask, but I could not offer any explanation.

Only after many years, in fact, only recently when that fear lost its hold on me. As I was working on my inner healing, that incident came to mind. I thought about it and realized the fear and anxiety it brought into my life which crippled me for years. It prevented me from living in joy as I was always apprehensive and anxious about every single thing. It kept me from becoming more aware of other people and their own needs. It kept me comfortable in my own world but deprived of experiences that would have expanded my horizon, my consciousness, and my life.

I stayed with the incident and reflected on it. I realized how much that person who sought refuge in our balcony needed help. He cried out for help and we should have let him in so the others would stop from further hurting him. But we did not hear his cry. We only thought of our own safety then. We did not think of him needing help as he crouched in our porch so the flying rocks and stones would not hit him. It was only after I had dealt with my own fear, that I became aware of the situation that person who took refuge in our porch was in.


Your Greatest Fear


How I Confronted My Fear

When I confronted my fear, life took on a different turn. Slowly, confidence took over fear. I started enjoying people, getting to know them better, and interact with them with greater confidence and joy. People enjoyed being around me. Perhaps because I was genuinely there for them. They felt happy around me.

I dared to do things I had never done before. It was exhilarating to experience something new and achieve new milestones. Other steps I had taken included the following:

  1. I listened to my fear. Where did it come from? As I listened to it, incidents came to mind. Some incidents prevailed, and these were the ones I further listened to. I entered into it and listened to the fear that gripped me at that particular instance.
  2. I also assured myself that the situation was long past and that it no longer had any power over me. I mustered my courage and capacity to deal with such a situation, replacing the feeling of fear with confidence knowing that I now have the resources to handle this fear.
  3. As I started listening to my fears and anxieties, other incidents revealed itself. I became conscious of how these other incidents further reinforced my first experience of fear and lodged it deeper on my inner self. Knowing this, I allowed myself time to heal and strengthen my courage. As each incident revealed itself, I encountered it and eventually said goodbye.
  4. When thoughts of fear came, I substituted these thoughts with incidents when I displayed courage. I shifted my imagination away from the drama of fear toward experiences of confidence.
  5. Each time fear came, I let it go, loosened its hold on me, and took the steps to overcome it. I did exactly the thing I was afraid to do, not recklessly but with greater awareness of what I needed to do. Before I did it, I visualized how well I was doing it. The more I did this, the greater my inner strength became.
  6. I gained knowledge and skills to help me overcome my helplessness and do things with ease and competence.
  7. I kept reinforcing courage as I enhanced my awareness of myself.

This had been an ongoing journey. Sometimes, I fell back but I kept picking myself up and moved on. Confronting my fear became the defining moment in the change that made me create my own life in freedom and joy.

© 2020 Mary Norton


Robert Sacchi on September 11, 2020:

I can see where it would be difficult to get over such an experience.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 14, 2020:

Thank you, Denise. Sometimes, our thoughts bring us surprises. Because we are part of a collective whole, we remember not just our own experiences. Thus, your fear of fire. I wish I know more about this.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on August 14, 2020:

Thank you, Devika. I hesitated to share of myself before. Now, I can so more.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 13, 2020:

My biggest fear is fire. I don't really know where that fear comes from. I have been in a fire or that near one that I can remember. But I have always had strange nightmares of waking up with fire all around my bed. Still, I don't think it has really plagued my life the way your very real fear did. I'm so happy you were able to identify it and deal with it.



Devika Primic on August 13, 2020:

Hi Mary You had to go through such trauma does allow for fear to hold on to you. You have shared an incredible side of you. I am glad you are moving on from that fear and feel confident.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 04, 2020:

Well expressed.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on July 06, 2020:

Thank you, Denise. Yes, I am also very grateful that we don't stop growing.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on July 03, 2020:

That is an incredible story. I felt like I was right there with you pushing against the door. Your fear was understandable but I'm glad that God has helped you cast out your fear.



Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 26, 2020:

Thank you so much. I felt like I was experiencing it all over again when I remembered it.

Anupam Mitu from MUMBAI on June 25, 2020:

Great that you overcame your fear and became confident. You have narrated it so well that I could see it happening in front of my eyes.

Keep it up dear

God bless you

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 17, 2020:

Chitrangada, thank you. A friend who read this told me that I experienced a trauma and showed me how to deal with it. Yes, we all do have similar experiences and the sooner we confront it, the healthier we become.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on June 17, 2020:

An important article, which can help many who face similar fears and emotions.

It’s quite common for people to have fear. The best way to win from fear is perhaps to confront it.

We all have some kind of fear, and we have to deal with it. Fear of the unknown, fear of losing the loved ones and there are so many.

Thanks for sharing your personal experience, through this helpful and well written article.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 15, 2020:

Thank you, Miss Dora. It does take time. I continue to work on it as its tentacles are all over the facets of my life but the little manifestations as you progress are very encouraging.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 14, 2020:

Mary, thanks for sharing your struggle with fear. Sometimes we push the fear aside, but it resurfaces for various reasons. You showed us that we have to embrace it, and listen to it in order to take away its power. That takes time, which is time well spent.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 14, 2020:

I can imagine your fear, Peggy. I would be terrified, too. I'm glad the constable came immediately. I'm sure you still think of that incident once in a while.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 14, 2020:

I am really sorry for your loss, KonaGirl. I have exactly the same experience as you have. My husband drove in whatever country we were in and ever since I stopped working, I drove only once in a while so when my husband died, I decided to be back on the road and not depend on family all the time. Like you, the lockdown has given me time to get used to the big city roads and the highways. I am now getting more confidence. I have the same experience when a guy did the same thing as I put on my left signal but I looked at how he maneuvered and he looked like a very good driver so I was appeased. I am working on my skills and getting more experience.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 14, 2020:

Good to know that, Penny. I pray that you also overcome it.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 14, 2020:

Thank you, Liz, for the affirmation. I am still working on my fears but I feel confident now and no longer anxious.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2020:

What a scary time for you as well as your mother. You did not know what was happening on the other side of that door at the time.

We once had a (what turned out to be a drunk, or high on drugs) person pounding on our front door wanting to come into our home. He was calling out the name of a woman. We told him through the door that no one by that name was in our house, but that did not stop him. We called the constable. He was there in about 5 minutes, which seemed like an eternity. It was Christmas day. Ultimately, they arrested him and impounded his car.

We had wrapped our pine trees in the front yard like candy canes. After that incident, we removed the decorations, fearing he might recognize our place and return.

My husband met the constable sometime later and was assured that the man would in no way know where he had been. He was so high on drugs that he did not know where he was.

Hearing about your experience brought back that scary incident to my mind. This all happened so early in the morning that my husband and I were still in bed. The pounding and yelling woke us up. I did fear that he would break through our front door!

KonaGirl from New York on June 12, 2020:

Mary, I was a little girl, terrified right along with you while reading this descriptive, scary article!

Driving scares me. I didn't drive for years because I was afraid of insane drivers who did not follow driving etiquette, common sense, or laws. I was afraid of getting hit and getting hurt. My husband was an excellent driver who drove me everywhere.

My husband passed away a few months ago which has forced me to get back on the road. With the lack of traffic because of the virus, I was able to gain some driving confidence back.

Traffic in my area is again becoming insane as more and more cars are getting back on the road.

Yesterday, as I was merging into a left turn lane, I had my turn signal on, and I looked in my mirror as I moved into the turn lane. Suddenly, an old man driving a Corvair sports car switched lanes behind me and sped up over the double solid yellow lines on my left making an attempt to get ahead of me. I had to quickly veer to the right to avoid his hitting me. Luckily, the car behind me was following at a safe distance or he would have hit me too.

The old man in the Corvair, now in front of me had to suddenly brake to a stop because the left turn light was now red. His speeding ahead got him nowhere and almost caused an accident.

When the left-turn light turned green, this old man sped like a bat out of hell as he turned left onto the winding road we were both turning onto. The speed limit on this road is 30 MPH. He had to be going 50 and shifting gears to go faster. It is lucky he didn't kill himself or somebody else.

This is exactly why I am afraid of driving. A-holes like this who are in such a hurry (only thinking of themselves) they are capable of causing an accident and injuring someone else. I was shaking all the way home!

I have to get back out into this insanity again today and pray I can get back home safely!

Penny Leigh Sebring from Fort Collins on June 11, 2020:

That was a wonderful article. I, too, have been haunted by fear, especially in the past, and it resonated deeply with me.

Liz Westwood from UK on June 11, 2020:

You have recounted the scene with amazing clarity. I almost felt like I was there witnessing it. Thank you for sharing how this event affected you and how you have overcome the fear.

Out of a very traumatic event, you have drawn lessons that encourage us all. The outcome of overcoming your fear has been positive. This article encourages us to examine the events in our lives that might have a negative effect on us and could be holding us back.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2020:

What I fear more, at times, Flourish is what still remains in my subconscious. Who knows but I just work on it when it comes.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2020:

This is what I am happy about now. I feel I have the resources to face my fears and other negative things in me. The past no longer has a hold on my subconscious. I feel much better.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2020:

Thank you, Bill, for the coaching. I needed it to go back and write again.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2020:

Thank you, Manatita. I am now doing some spiritual practices. This is how this experience surfaced. I recognize the many levels as I've worked on my fears for years. It's like peeling an onion.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2020:

John, It is only recently that this experience surfaced. Thankfully, it did, so I was able to confront it.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2020:

Lorna, I had confronted some fears in the past but somehow, this one just surfaced lately. It's interesting how much we had buried in our subconscious and as we become more aware, more things come up. I think that our subconscious is kind to us. It only surfaces what we can handle.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2020:

I suppose that is the reason we share our experience to encourage others to tackle their own. It took me years but slowly am learning more about how to handle these fears and life has changed.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2020:

Thank you, Ann. I had the benefit of coaching from our mutual friend here. You, too, stay safe and well.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2020:

Thanks, JC Scull

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on June 11, 2020:

Eric, they were drunk and they started to fight against each other. We didn't know at that time, of course. I still have layers of fear that I try to conquer everyday

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on June 11, 2020:

This is an amazing article. I felt I was with you against the door. Why did they attack your home?

You made this statement " Sellers set up stalls on the grounds stocking up on what they think would strongly attract the villagers' money."

It struck me as it is the money that is attracted.

I confronted my fears - but they are still there a bit, partly controlling my life.

JC Scull from Gainesville, Florida on June 11, 2020:

Excellent article, Mary.

Ann Carr from SW England on June 11, 2020:

What a powerful story, Mary! It must have been terrifying for a little 3 year old to go through such an experience. No wonder it took a long time to overcome. The fact that your supposed attacker was being attacked was unknown to you at the time. I suppose if you'd let him in, there would've still been the pursuers to deal with.

The structured details of confronting fear that you've given here are so useful, so constructive, for all of us to use. In fact, I shall use them to deal with some long-standing inner turmoil of my own, so thank you.

Keep safe and well, Mary!


Lisha C on June 11, 2020:

It's great that you have learnt how to confront your fears, thanks for sharing your tips and experiences. This article made me reflect on some of my fears, too. When I actually think of it, it is very true that things in our past can sometimes adversely affect how we deal with situations in our current lives.

Lorna Lamon on June 11, 2020:

Being able to write about this episode Mary also helps to let go of the fear. Your mother could never have known the man needed help and probably feared for her life and the life of her daughter. I am glad you have managed to overcome this fear which can be so debilitating.

It takes courage to confront a fear which has been present since childhood. Your story is full of great advice which will help other people who have found themselves in a similar situation. Thank you for sharing. Take care.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on June 10, 2020:

Mary, thank you for sharing your fear, and your steps to overcome it. Often just one terrifying incident can have a lasting effect on our lives. I’m glad that you eventually realised where you fear originated and took steps to defeat the hold it had over you. A well-written and interesting article.

manatita44 from london on June 10, 2020:

A sincere Hub, Mary and well done. I mean that you are honest about having to deal with your fear. We all have them to a greater or lesser extent. Like school grades, there are many levels. Indeed in some it is so strong that it affects their working life.

We have many impediments within that are not necessarily to the fore: guilt, doubt, insecurity and loneliness, jealousy. Spiritual practices make us aware sooner or later, so that we can transform them.

I grew up in a village too. Very dark at nights, but fortunately, we villagers lived like a community of lovers. Very happy to see you writing again.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2020:

This looks familiar! :) And it looks as good as the last time I read it. Well done, Mary!

Lora Hollings on June 10, 2020:

This is a wonderful article, Mary, about confronting our fears and moving on. If we keep running from fear, we will never conquer it and then it can start to take over our lives, holding us back as we can't move forward. Instead, we must face them, get to the root cause and keep doing things despite our fears. We will then prove to ourselves, gradually by confronting them, that we do have the inner strength to conquer them. And they will no longer rule us. Thanks for your encouraging and inspiring article!

FlourishAnyway from USA on June 10, 2020:

What a frightening scenario from your childhood. I can understand the impact it had on your development and am glad you and your mom were unharmed.

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