And I’ve been scared for a while now.
I’ve put off talking about it here, because my fear feels premature. The source of my dread, the roaring lion in the street, won’t be breathing his damp terror directly in my face until May.
But that awful dark spot on the horizon grows larger every day. And for the life of me, I can’t convince my heart that it’s not yet time to panic.
The lion I fear is my dread of speaking or doing interviews for my book.
Yes, I know. Almost everyone is apprehensive about public speaking. But a mortifying incident in my past seems like proof to me that my panic is warranted.
Years ago, I had a big opportunity to do a radio interview with a show out of Denver to promote one of my books. It was a call-in program, simulcast live to more than 200 stations around the country—a real publicity coup.
The hosts were two male doctors, well known in Christian publishing. I phoned the station at the appointed time. Five minutes into the interview, a spot on my cheek just under my right eye began to twitch. The skin on my face flamed like fire and a roaring sound filled my ears.
How do you answer a host’s question when you can’t hear it?
So I did what any responsible author and grown woman would do. I hung up on the interview and collapsed into hysterical sobbing. Then I took the phone off the hook so they couldn’t call back. Then I called Dave in tears. “I just hung up on Denver!” I sobbed.
“You what?!” he asked, incredulous.
“I had a panic attack,” I wailed.
Dave called the station to apologize on my behalf. To this day, I don’t know exactly what he told them. I was too mortified to ask.
On Monday, I got the media packet for Sober Mercies from my publicist at Jericho. Just the sight of her email and the attachments made my blood run cold: How am I going to do this? And without alcohol?
Back in the day, I used to drink before every interview, even for Christian TV shows.
Meanwhile, friends tell me I’m not myself lately. And they’re right. I’m trying to hide the truth that I’m in an almost constant state of muffled dread.
Clearly, I need help. But in order to ask for help, you have to admit to need. And in order to admit need, you have to accept your own weakness.
Which is a big problem for me. I tend to show up for every personal interaction wondering how I can help. What can I offer? What wisdom can I impart? It’s an important part of my recovery to make sure I am being of service to others. But it’s also a trick of my ego, used to dupe me into thinking I can help myself.
One of my spiritual goals for this year is to learn how to ask for help. I have no clue how to be the person in need, the one to receive.
I originally intended to write this post as 7 Ways to Deal with Fear. Can you believe it? But what I really need is to hear from you. I need your prayers, wisdom, and most of all, your advice. How do you cope with debilitating fear?
Please help me.