The Story That Heals Us

by Diana DeVaul

I used to be a fearless flyer.

My first time flying, I had spontaneously agreed to accompany my father on a seaplane ride.  I was 10 years old and easily followed my inner voice, which urged me to take this leap. As we soared high above the contradictory landscape of this beloved Wisconsin resort town, I remained absolutely fearless.  While my eyes darted between the constructs of vibrant commercialism set against the cliffs and dips of the natural waterways, I was free. 

Once we landed and had rejoined my mother and sister safely on the ground, there was lots of talk about how out of character it was for me to fly into the unknown like that. This talk did not surprise me, as it fell easily into the story of who I was as a child. This story of being timid, sensitive, and afraid of my own shadow stays with me to this day. It is not a story that supports me in being my truest self.

Despite this story of timidity that followed me through life, I continued being a fearless flyer. Until one day and one unfortunate flight changed this story. My mom and I had traveled to Alaska and, on the flight home, we hit a terrible storm.  Suddenly, all my fears about the world being scary played out on this awful flight. It resembled a roller coaster ride. I clutched the arms of my seat as we rocked back and forth, dropping from the sky, and I lost my courage. 

From this point on, my mastery over flying without fear devolved dramatically. Travel became like everything else in my life. It was overwhelming and frightening. This fear began to impact my travel decisions. All I wanted to do was stay home and keep my feet firmly planted on solid ground. It seemed that the stories of my childhood were true.  I was too afraid to brave the world. My tender heart needed to be wrapped in a cocoon in order to survive.

These stories of fear did very little to set me up for a fulfilling life. As a result, in conjunction with a series of life events, including the sudden death of my mother, my fear grew into full-blown anxiety. I no longer felt safe in crowds or new settings. Speaking to strangers and acquaintances alike became so burdensome that I began to avoid these interactions at all costs.  Eventually, stories of my social anxiety were expressed as a series of panic attacks that obliterated any last hope I had of feeling safe. My only course of action was no action at all. I retreated further within myself and shunned living my fullest life.

As with anything, time changes you. With time, I accepted that traipsing all over the world was not in the cards for me, at least not then or the foreseeable future. However, as I slowly began to piece my anxiety-ridden heart back together, my courage started to return. It was subtle at first. So subtle that I am unsure when it reached a tipping point. But it did.

With the return of my courage, I reached out to a friend and told her I was ready to meet her at Kripalu. I agreed to this knowing that I would have to fly alone, navigate airports as I made flight connections, and open myself up to meeting lots and lots of new people.  My fear was intense. If you are an intuitive empath like me, I know you can relate.

Fortunately, there is great hope for the likes of us. Eventually, the call to your own healing will become louder than your fear. Facing my fear of flying, crowds, and the unknown taught me undoubtedly that courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is taking action despite your fear.

Fear was with me the whole time. Fear followed me on the plane, through the airports, and even once I arrived at Kripalu.

Fear never left me.

There were times when fear lessened its grip. After completing a final stretch of a forest trek in silence, I found myself face to face with Kripalu’s legendary “Mama Tree.” This was the most beautiful tree I had ever seen. Her twisted, knotty arms reached out to me and up to the heavens all at once.

In that moment, I was no longer a woman afraid of her own shadow. I was no longer anything that could be defined or minimized with a judgment or a label. Without a definition, I came face to face with the true story of me. This is the kind of story that defies articulation. This is the best kind of story. One that heals you from the inside out. One that makes you a different kind of person for the rest of your life. This is the story that changed me because I learned I did not have to change at all.

Sometimes, those of us who need healing the most are the most afraid to go where the call of healing needs us to go. If this is you, breathe in your fearful story and pause. If you can find a glimmer of your true self within that pause, what is it telling you?

If it says go, then go you must.

You have nothing to lose except the fearful stories that hold you back.

Diana DeVaul is a wife, mother, and freelance blogger. She uses her writing to help guide us all in the direction of love. Diana invites readers to connect with her at or on Facebook.

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