I almost killed my husband once. It would have been unintentional had I succeeded; I’m sure it would have been ruled accidental or I would have been declared not guilty by reason of insanity; for insane I was.

We were on vacation in Mexico, spending the day at a beautiful place called Xel Ha, and planned to go snorkeling. I’m not a water person so it was only to please my husband that I agreed to don the flippers. life jacket, mask and snorkel and get into the water.

I am blessed with the most patient and understanding man in the world (he has to be to put up with me!) and he gently encouraged me and held on to my hand as we moved farther out in the water. Finally, when we were far enough out, he coached to put my face in the water and, well, begin snorkeling.

I managed to keep my fear in check and began to appreciate the beautiful underwater world but suddenly I was overcome with panic and instinct took over. Even as I was doing it I told myself to stop, but I was unable to prevent myself from climbing onto my husband’s shoulders in an attempt to get myself out of the water.

Logically, I knew my behaviour had the potential to drown the man I loved, but I was absolutely unable to stop. Self-preservation, the will to survive, panic, instinct, call it what you will, it was a force to be reckoned with.

Finally, Gerry managed to fling me off of his shoulders and away from him far enough to prevent me from climbing back on top of him. My patient husband wasn’t upset with me, he proceeded to calm me down and even got me to resume our snorkeling adventure.

I was in awe at what we were seeing in the underwater world, but I never quite got over my fear and every now and then an involuntary sharp intake of breath signaled to me that panic was not far away.

Sometimes, in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, I feel something similar to that physical sense of panic. In the wee hours, my mind wanders hither and yon and sometimes rests upon a “what if” scenario that stabs me with a bolt of fear.

It’s silly really, getting worked about about an imaginary situation that will likely never happen, but the nighttime world is not unlike the underwater sometimes. Inexplicably, involuntary, irrationally, I’m pierced with a panic that I find myself powerless to resist.

When I started writing this post my intention was to write about someone who’s life I think about sometimes as a way of quelling the fear of the unknown, but I think I will save that story for another day. I’ll leave you with this tale of the power of panic and ask you: have you ever been gripped with a fear you found difficult to let go of? What did you do to overcome it?


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things and the thin places where faith intersects.
  1. Oh, this is funny and sad at the same time. It's terrifying to have that kind of fear. I'm not good in small spaces, so I get this!

  2. This was really great, I seriously blurted out a laugh when I read how you jumped on hubby's shoulders!!

    I sooo get it, as much as I do LOVE water, I have an inexpicable, irrational fear of it too.

    Gripped by fear, and overcoming it?
    Ha, where do I begin mom?

    All I WILL say, is that fear really is a waste of time and energy. Would we rather wake up 20 or so years from now and REALIZE then what we wasted on FEAR, or wouldn't we prefer to wake up 20 years from now and KNOW that we faced every fear we had? It is pointless to hold onto fear of anything. It could happen the way we imagine, it really could, but, in most cases, even if it does, we will figure out how to SURVIVE!!

  3. So funny! But I'm sorry for what you went through in that moment.

    Sometimes I do get overwhelmed, and it's because I overthink and overanalyze. I have to force myself into calm, into realizing no matter what, everything will be okay.

  4. I cured it by getting out of the ocean and not going back. I do much better on the beach. I love looking at the water. Listening to it. But not submerging myself in creature-filled bodies of water (though pools are OK). Heck, I have trouble watching scuba divers in movies. I find myself struggling for breath!

  5. Jill – I get a bit short of breath in small spaces too.
    Laurinda – you are absolutely right. Most of what we worry about will never come to pass.
    Janna – Our mind can get us into this place of panic, but if we STOP we can get ourselves out too. Sounds like you have learned that lesson.
    Becky – give me the beach and a good book any day!

  6. I have claustrophobia, not terribly strong, but enough to identify with what you have written about: unreasoning fear that sends thrills and chills through your body and mind. The one thing I've learned is that it passes, if I am willing to move through it. Nothing stays static when we allow movement. Your hubby did exactly all the right things, don't you think?

  7. I think we all have. I have a fear of loss. I know it comes from losing my mother at age six, but that does nothing to quell the fear of losing my family. The way I cope with it is to take the thought and imagine a big circle surrounding it with a line through it. Then I replace the thought with a calming, or happy one. You always need to replace the thought. After a while it becomes easier and easier. Thanks for sharing such a personal and helpful memory.

  8. DJan, I like what you said about moving through it and not allowing ourselves to stay there. Good thought!

    Nancy, I lost my Mom when she was fifty-five, and one of my biggest fears as I approach that age is not so my dying, as not being here to see my family grow up. The loss of a mother is always traumatic, isn't it. I also liked what you said about replacing the fear with another thought.

  9. I have had that kind of panic is not fun…I almost knocked both my kids over one day when a mouse ran across the floor…I don't like rodent..

  10. Your husband sounds great, and I had to smile. I've never snorkled and think I would do the same thing.

    Fear is hard, especially in the middle of the night. I've read scripture before I go to bed and try to memorize a verse, saying it over and over until I sleep. Blesings**

  11. Deb – I'm so with you there! Mice and I don't mix well at all!

  12. Karen, he is great! **smile**
    Scripture helps me sometimes as well. In fact, I have been known to write out certain ones and post them around the house where I will see them often. Knowing that I am not in charge but I know the One who is, helps a lot!

  13. I pray a lot:)) In the middle of the night, I am known to wake up too and lay there thinking about all the what ifs, It can get really bad, and I try to start praying for everyone I know then.

  14. Terri I pray too; I wonder if that might be part of why we are awake.

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