Sunday, December 11, 2011


All of us are afraid at one time or another.  We feel unsure and confused and alone.  Issues come into our lives that we don't know how to handle, so we manage to sidestep around them, ignore them, make excuses for them, or just plain fear them to the point of exhaustion.

But sometimes, just sometimes, these issues can be dealt with from the heart.  You can find, that with a hand to hold, you can be guided through these places of fear gently, safely and with love and honesty.

Such was the case with a warrior that Kelsie and I met about a month and a half ago.  When we walked into the day room at the hospital, she literally ran screaming out the door. It didn't take long to realize she was terrified of dogs..big dogs, small dogs, it didn't matter...just dogs!

So I backed up and went into another room assuring her that there was nothing to fear and I would keep Miss Kelsie away from her.  Skeptically she returned to her chair, but her body language indicated that she was still fearful and most anxious any hyper vigilant. 

The next week we visited again. Being the warrior that she is, she decided it might be time to beat this thing called fear!  I was delighted, as this is right up my alley.  Dispelling fear.  I just told her whenever she was ready to let me know.  Kelsie and I went about the business of reaching out to dozens of other wounded warriors with PTSD and soon I saw S. coming closer and closer, taking two steps back and then another three forward.  As she approached us Kelsie was lying on her side on the floor snuggled up to a Marine lying next to her with his arm around her, rubbing her belly.  I didn't say a word as S. laid down behind the Marine and told him to protect her as she reached over him and carefully touched Kelsie's back.  Right after touching her she jumped up and ran into the other room.  I told her that I was proud of her. She smiled.

The next week brought more improvement.  She came up to Kelsie and me and spent maybe 3-4 minutes getting up the nerve to pet her by herself with no Marine back up!  I told Kelsie to be very still and S. fearlessly touched and stroked her back with two fingers, then her hand, and then a scratch or two.  Kelsie flinched a little and S. jumped back.  But instantly came back and petted her again.  Mission accomplished!!!

The next week more improvement.  I put a blanket on a chair and told Kelsie 'up'.  S. sat in the chair next to her and petted her head, shoulders and back.  I asked her how it felt and she said it feels good.  Then the break through, "I think maybe now I can get a dog for my little girls who have been begging for one. Thank you.  Kelsie is special."

The last time we were to see each other before she was to be sent back to her base, we asked for a private meeting with S.  We were able to meet her outside on a beautiful sunny December day.  As we walked to a bench, I asked her to take half of the leash and help me walk Kelsie.  She did it!  Fear conquered. 

Then I asked her to sit and let me take a picture of just her and Kelsie to send to her little girls with Kelsie and her antlers.  She did it.  I don't think that she really understood how brave she had become in just a few short weeks. But to me we had climbed a mountain together and both of us learned some valuable lessons.

Fear can be overcome and conquered.  Baby steps. I personally believe that the answer to conquering fear lies within us.  Yes, we receive guidance from others, but ultimately we truly want to conquer this demon.  And for S., it came from her heart.  Her daughters want a dog, and she wants to make them happy.  Perhaps she found on a December day in South Texas that what she was really searching for was within her heart. And perhaps now, as well, she will find that conquering some of the demons from the war she fought for us in  Iraq/Afghanistan might be just a bit more manageable.

The only thing fear does is prevent us from finding our joy!  I would like to think this Christmas there just might be a puppy under a Christmas tree for two very special little girls whose mother climbed a huge mountain, not just for herself, but for them.

Happy Sunday everyone!

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