Fear. The most troublesome four letter f-word in my vocabulary.
I'm a bit of a scardy cat. I think about safety issues frequently and about how best to protect my home, my family and even myself when I'm out and about. When it comes to guns I'm rather middle-of-the-road--I believe in the second amendment but I also support gun control. Yes both, but please this isn't about politics. In the end I just don't know that I would feel comfortable having a handgun in my home, around my children. At the same time, I can certainly understand why many families do opt for that route. I guess I'm a fan of preventive measures--alarm systems and dogs for example. Then there are safety issues for when you're away from home...women being out alone at night are always a target. I have to say being a woman and a mother I find it's hard not to feel a little fearful living in such a crazy world. With the courageous rescue of the 3 women in Cleveland a couple weeks ago I found myself once again riveted to the news. Even though I didn't know their stories beforehand, it was absolutely amazing that these women were found after all this time. But over the coming days, I was reading more and more stories along the same lines--some of them with happy endings and many not with happy endings. I eventually made a pact not to read the news for a few days and just let my mind rest and reprogram from all the overwhelming facts.
So, a few months back I decided to purchase some pepper spray--not lethal, but at least something that could give me a little protection if the need arises. I haven't been super consistent with it, but I decided that I would take it with me when Lamp and I walked to school to pick up PSP in the afternoon--my main concern being stray dogs, not unstable people. Like I said, I wasn't super consistent but have started to walk out the door many a day only to turn around and grab it 'just in case.' Last week was one of those days where I grabbed my pepper spray last minute and well, I actually ended up needing it.
Yes, I used it on a dog. In my mind a dog sounds less scary that a menacing person, but as we all know a stray dog can be just as dangerous. I saw the two roaming dogs as down our street and crossed to the other side while pushing Lamp in her stroller. We passed them without any incident, but once we turned the corner one of them turned around and came our way. As he started to approach us I turned around and tried to shoo him away. He immediately started barking, growling and showing his teeth. My pepper spray was already in my hand ready to disperse and I quickly sprayed in his direction. Thankfully he promptly turned around and retreated. (Although he didn't seem to be hurt too much by the spray...so I was a little concerned. Maybe it didn't actually get him in the eyes?) Anyway, we walked on without any further problems, but I was surprised how shaken I was after the incident. Who knows if the dog would have actually done anything... I don't. But I was so grateful to have been prepared that day so I didn't have to find out. Especially with my 2 year old in tow.
I love the idea of being carefree and not being overly concerned with safety issues, but the dichotomy is if I hadn't been thinking so much about safety I wouldn't have purchased the pepper spray and I would not have had it on hand when I actually needed it. Additionally, the reason I read so many articles about crime and violence is to be aware, for prevention, I tell myself. If I know how other people have been hurt, I can avoid it. At least that's my thinking. But I also know fear causes me a lot more mental energy than it should. And while there are facts that surround real-life stories, if I pay too much attention to the news I start to have a distorted view of the world and my surroundings.
What role does fear play in your life? Have you struck a balance between acknowledging the realities of life while not letting it affect your day-to-day? Have you actually been in a life or death situation where you felt adequately prepared or conversely, underprepared? Is it possible to completely block fear out of your life? Do tell... but please, lets not get into politics. :)