My husband Chad waited patiently for me to turn the corner on these terrors and get fully on board. His bags were packed. He needed a change. Once he makes a decision if there was any hemming and hawing during the decision making process, the doubt is forever cast aside. I was on board for 48 hours. One could have even possibly described me as excited. Images of white sand beaches and kids growing up free in the jungle had me sold at the prospect of dropping everything to teach at a start-up alternative school in the jungle. Why not? Nature is where it’s at. We quickly told everyone about our plan, drew up leaves of absence from our employers and began celebrating our achievement of taking the plunge overseas again, this time with kids in tow.
But the nagging fears took hold sometime after midnight and didn’t release their grasp until dawn. I was a walking zombie for a few weeks. Chad finally realized the grip this anxiety had on my mental health and so, one day, as we sat by the river trying to take a few moments for ourselves, he officially pulled the plug on going. All for me. And then I felt all my anxiety about going shift to staying and I started to worry about what would happen if we stayed. And I realized how fucked I was. Sitting by the Deschutes River on that sunny cool early spring day in Oregon I found myself in a classic, “Damned if you do damned if you don’t” moment. I envisioned myself in the water flowing downstream. Knowing there’s a massive waterfall less than a mile below. Would my frantic attempts to stay out of the current get me to the shore in time? I’d never know unless I tried.
It was anxiety’s grip on keeping things the same that pushed me to go. I imagined my world shrinking year by year as each obstacle loomed larger than the one before it, carefully obscuring the difference between true risk and benign adventure, slowly locking me into a smaller and more controlled world over time. I envisioned myself unable to leave the house, festering away in the garden with too many pets. I pictured framed photos of cats all over my house, despite my current allergies and general disdain for the snobbiest of pets.
Less than three months later we moved to Bali, Indonesia with a 2-year-old, a 4-year-old. We lived in an open-air bamboo house in the jungle with no walls. We felt like the Swiss Family Robinson, only we had internet. After a few shaky days, a challenging month and some unexpected misadventures I can safely say that facing anxiety head-on is a horrible necessary for those of us with roulette-wheel worry brains that go to the dark side so quickly. This particular horrible necessary has a happy ending. Not the special Thai massage happy ending that so many fat bastards fly into Bangkok for, but more of a sleep-through-the-night-the-world-is-your-oyster-and-it-is-all-going-to-be-ok-even-really-fun-most-of-the-time happy ending that smacks of a Hollywood-worthy champion race horse overcoming a bad leg story. Or, perhaps it is just a story of an ordinary person having an extraordinary journey with her loving family because she decided it was better to face her fears than to be boxed in by them.
This post is part of the My Fearful Adventure series, which is celebrating the launch of Torre DeRoche’s debut book Love with a Chance of Drowning, a true adventure story about one girl’s leap into the deep end of her fears.
"Wow, what a book. Exciting. Dramatic. Honest. Torre DeRoche is an author to follow." Australian Associated Press
"… a story about conquering the fears that keep you from living your dreams." Nomadicmatt.com
"In her debut, DeRoche has penned such a beautiful, thrilling story you’ll have to remind yourself it’s not fiction." Courier Mail