Experience Teaches Wisdom and Gives Perspective Too

Casandra Reid

A story of how my fear taught me to understand others better.

Photo by Alex Shute on Unsplash

When you have had one or multiple run-ins with a thing, you have now been exposed to and have acquired relatable or relevant experience.

Fear is a part of the human experience.

And while I have not studied the subject of fear in great depth to offer any grand philosophical reasoning, this one thing I know from experience: fear is an up-close and personal encounter for someone caught in its grip.

I know a thing or two about fear.

I’ve faced paralyzing fear for some time now. I do not speak of the kind where I am indecisive about a decision or unable to take action.

No, dear reader.

Indecisiveness has paled compared to the sort of fear I’ve been having.

I speak about the type of fear that crawls over my body and sends tremors down my spine. Yes, the kind that summons inhumane screams and unfiltered tears from the depths of my being.

Other times, this fear freezes me in a spot and renders me motionless.

All this from seeing the unsightly image of a particular set of creatures inside my house.

What creatures may you want to know?


They often crawl about, notably minding their business and sometimes catching flies or insects by the lightbulbs for supper.

My fear of lizards does not stop me in my tracks. Instead, it sends me running at crazy speeds, dashing to an invisible finish line for safety.

My countryman, Usain Bolt, has nothing on me when faced with a lizard.

Years ago, when I immigrated, it was one of the unseen blessings of leaving the tropics behind, but whenever I return, I come face to face with my unresolved trauma.

These past weeks have been exceptionally trying for me. In all my 30-plus years of experiencing this fear, this has been the most challenging season of living with the haunting presence of lizards inside the house.

Yes, this is an island.

Yes, these creatures are regular sightings in the tropics.

And it is tolerable for me when they are outside, in their natural habitat.

But inside the house, my bedroom? Under the rugs? That is a stretch too far to be acceptable.

And so, I begin to hyperventilate, followed by the unstoppable dam of bawling beyond consolation.

The shaking.

The feeling that I’ve gotten away within inches of my life, and still, this creature is on me, crawling.

They possess my mind and my emotions. This fear has been driving me bonkers of late as I try to understand and process my degree of trauma.

Alas, I yet again come up empty.

Irrational as it is, this is my experience and my journey with fear.

Enters my husband, the licensed Marriage, Family, Therapist (MFT)

He drives them away.

It’s a game of survival: spearing the life of God’s beautiful creatures or witnessing the ongoing meltdown of a visibly shaken and trauma-induced wife.

The choice becomes easy.

He banishes the creatures that have no business inside my living quarters in the first place.

He also recommends a coping method he has used in his practice and has been taught in school:

Exposure Therapy.

He means well.

I know that within my heart. Still, counseling, therapy, or any reference for such treatment is the last thing I need when having a lizard-induced meltdown.

I have conscious memories of 30-plus years of exposure to these creatures. I do not recall precisely when my fear of lizards began in childhood, but over the years, I’ve had zero warming up or tolerance for them.

If exposure therapy were my cure, I would have been entirely cured years ago as I've had one too many exposures.

Instead, I’ve grown more bewildered and triggered by their sighting over the years.

This makes me observe that not every form of therapy works for everyone. Not all of us need to be “treated.”

Instead, some of us need to be allowed to solve our problems as we deem fit.

We each face life situations that require different maneuvering approaches. Hence, we should recognize when something isn’t working for us and when a course of action needs to be changed.

It is insanity to continue to do something just because it’s part of someone’s recommended treatment plan, even when we recognize it’s not for us.

I have found that not every piece of advice is worth taking. Not every therapy is worth pursuing.
As an advocate for myself, I will have more than a nodding head in anything that involves me. I will have an active role in solving my problems.

Yes, to this end, I will have the final say.

And my regards to those for whom” exposure therapy” has worked to resolve their fear of a thing.

It’s not for me.

My youngest son has inherited my fear gene

At what point the propensity to fear creatures was transferred to him, I do not know. Or maybe he was born with his own?

Either way, I wish I could dilute what has been passed on to him.

Now, we’re at the stage of helping him to manage his fears, and the lessons are difficult to teach. Being his parent, I can relate all too well and often feel like a contradiction in consoling him that certain insects aren’t out to get him.

At 6, he bolts away from bees, wasps, and ants. In his defense, each of these has some potential to inflict a bite or a sting where discomfort ensues. Compared to my fear of lizards, his fear appears to be rational and reasonable.

At least, they are to me.

I am more relatable and understanding toward others

Nothing makes you more relatable and human than sharing experiences with another human.

Whether that experience is shared joy or crisis, people relate to others who have walked in their shoes.

I can better understand my son’s fears and know they do not need to make sense to me for them to be real for him.

His fears are his own to encounter and hopefully learn to face and ideally overcome. But until then, I offer him grace and understanding. I model for him how to fan the bees and wasps away.

And it doesn't matter if it’s an army of ants or a single soldier; I understand his fear.

Final Thoughts

The experience of facing or conquering one’s fears looks different for each of us.

Our tolerance levels and thresholds are not the same. Understanding your limitations and what triggers and taunts you is an insightful lesson in self-awareness.

Furthermore, affliction makes us more human towards another soul who may be struggling with the same torn we have in our flesh.

Comments / 1

Published by

Human Resources Professional - MBA | 15 years experience | Relatable working mom of 2 Boys | Wife | Writer

Chula Vista, CA

More from Casandra Reid

Comments / 0