If you were asked to list 5 synonyms for the word fear, which words would you select?
Perhaps, your list might include apprehension, dread, terror, panic, trepidation or maybe qualm.
Every individual can relate directly to the overwhelming emotions that go hand-in-hand with all of these terms. Whether based on a real or an imaginary scenario, these feelings can be profound. One common reaction to fear is avoidance.
Facing an Irrational Fear
Last Friday morning, I faced one of my irrational fears. For the last three years, I have avoided the site of my husband’s catastrophic accident. Each time we skied at Keystone Resort, Ira would ask if I wanted to go down the Wild Irishman run. I would emphatically respond, “No!”
I cannot provide any sensible reason why I opted to avoid that slope. Irrational thoughts are rarely justified.
Ira had the opposite response. He couldn’t wait to ski again. As soon as Ira was released from his doctors’ care, he skied. Ira did not harbor any reservations. I, on the other hand, continued to hold onto the lingering memories of the traumatic events.
In my memoir, May This Be the Best Year of Your life, I recall our first visit to the High Country after I returned from India.
No matter how many times Ira and I drive I-70 to our home in Summit County, I always manage to observe something that revitalizes my appreciation of nature. Like a downpour that momentarily cleanses the smog above a major city, looking at the majesty of the Rocky Mountains refreshed my spirit and cleared away layers of confusion.
The exhilaration of skiing down one slope after another at Keystone Resort a few days later made me cognizant of the natural rhythm of shifting my weight from one ski to the other as I methodically carved my turns. My skier’s high was somewhat dampened by the lingering memories of Ira’s unforeseeable accident at the same mountain. My insides tightened when ever he was out of view.
The trauma from last spring was too fresh. More time needed to pass before the horrific recollections could be stored in a place that didn’t allow easy panic and fear. I remained on high alert—an overanxious, doting wife at best.
When I wrote that passage, I never imagined that it would take a couple more years before I revisited Wild Irishman. Had it not been for our son Jordan’s insistence, I would have been content to hold onto my irrational fear. Yesterday, he repeatedly requested that we take the ski run. I agreed that it was time to let go of my irrational feelings.
Revisiting Accident Site
When we approached the run, my heart started to race. We skied slowly down the top of the run. I couldn’t help but observe the absolute beauty of the surrounding area. I stopped a couple of times to take some pictures.
Time had dimmed some of the memories, yet certain aspects of that horrendous day remained absolutely clear. It is impossible to erase the memory of Ira screaming uncontrollably or his inability to recall anything. As I skied to the Keystone Clinic, I doubted that my life would ever be the same.
Right before the run merged with the Paymaster run, there was a steep face with a sharp turn. Somewhere along that segment, Ira had crashed in 2010. His skis and poles littered the face of the mountain. He lost consciousness and was unaware of his surroundings. Ira could not recognize his two youngest sons, Aaron and Jordan.
Near that place, Ira, Jordan, Kayla and I stopped to reflect on our gratitude.
We were lucky that Ira recovered from his traumatic brain injury and shattered shoulder.
I was finally able to come to grips with my emotions. I faced my irrational fears. I distanced myself from the past. I moved on without harboring any qualms of skiing again on Wild Irishman.
In retrospect, I do not know why it took so long to confront my irrational fears. I assume that I needed more time to cope with the catastrophic event. Skiing down that run unleashed my emotions. I was no longer afraid to gaze upon the slope that almost ended my husband’s life. Revisiting the scene and remembering the accident had a calming effect. My heart slowed to its normal beat. I glanced at Ira. I felt appreciative that I still had my husband by my side. Kayla took a picture as we reminisced.
I am glad that Jordan insisted that we take the run. Later that day, Jordan posted a comment on Facebook.
Jordan’s Facebook Comment
After almost 3 years to the day, Sandra Bornstein and Ira Bornstein were able to go back to the location of my dad’s near-fatal ski accident for the first time. As it always does, it put life into perspective.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” Eleanor Roosevelt
I encourage everyone to confront their irrational fears by unshackling the emotional baggage that diminishes rational thought.