Killing the Cockroach of Fear

Now that my grandson has begun kindergarten, Nana-Days have changed to Nana-Afternoons. I pick him up at his bus-stop at 2:40 PM—we scurry to my house—play, read, have dinner—then I zip him home by 7 PM for his family time. It is a bit hectic but it is still treasured time.

Recently I picked him up for our Nana-Afternoon and when he got off the bus, the conversation went like this: (GS = Grandson; N = Nana).

GS: Nana, we have to hurry. I have to go the bathroom…. Really badly.

N: Ok—let’s hurry. (and we scurried up the driveway quickly….very quickly.)

GS: Nana—we really HAVE TO HURRY.

N: Ok—and thinking I needed to share some Nana-wisdom, I said: You know, in the future, it might be best if you went to the bathroom before you got on the bus.

GS: I couldn’t do that. (pauses….. as he is trying to run and not trip) Damian told me that he saw a cockroach in the bathroom and it disturbed him.

N: uhhhhh—excuse me?  Hmmmm—well ….. did you see the cockroach?

GS: NO—but Damian did and it DISTURBED him. Pause….pause…… as we are now climbing up the front porch steps. And THEN I found out at THE END OF THE DAY that the teacher killed the cockroach. (Translation—by the time he found out the cockroach was no longer a personal threat to his safety, it was too late for a bathroom break.)

We managed to handle the current crisis with the usual Nana flair and grace. I did mention that, in the future, he might want to share any disturbing news earlier in the day with his teacher. But I could not really criticize him very much as I personally can recall various times in my life where I was visiting a park or campground “bathroom” and there were yellow jackets dive-bombing the toilet and I too became “disturbed” and let fear stop me in my tracks.

But as much have I laughed about my grandson’s fear from hearing about—not actually even seeing—but merely hearing about the cockroach—I could not help but think about the things in my life that have disturbed me and my reaction to them.

Some things are disturbing and they inspire us to take action such as volunteering to feed the homeless. Some things are disturbing and we can truly do very little about them—such as the angry language that has overtaken the political environment.

But perhaps the most disturbing cockroaches in our lives are those that create fear—especially a fear that prevents us from doing something—from taking action.

True confession time: I have a fear that would be a total shock to most of my friends. Although I appear to be 100% Extrovert, I have a strong introvert side. My fear—the cockroach that makes me want to turn and run is…..

I hate having to go by myself to new places where there are a lot of people. I hate going into groups without a hand to hold or a friend by my side. I need that security net. I hate making small talk. I am good at it but I truly dislike it. I want to flee the room. Run Bambi Run!!

Due to the unexpected events of November 2015—moving to a new area and home with my fiancé and then he abruptly leaving me one night—I have had to try to reinvent myself (at age 66) as a single woman in a new community. I have literally sat in my car outside places trying to screw up the courage to go in and smile and introduce myself and make small talk….without a hand to hold and without any safety net.

I HATE IT. And I have hated it so much that I retreated into a shell of isolation and had convinced myself that a life of solitude and aloneness would be fine.

I let the cockroach of fear define who I would be as a woman.

I let it define my life’s path.

What about you, dear reader?  What disturbs you in such a manner that it prevents you from reaching for a goal? For an adventure? For a new experience?  A new job? Are you living in shades of gray? Or perhaps, you even know someone like me—someone who is letting fear stop them from being who they should be—from taking chances—from really living their life to the fullest.

Sometimes it takes someone else reaching out to help you and God, in His wisdom, knew that. I have been recently blessed to make a new friend (Cathy) from my church—a woman who has pushed me and made me step on my cockroach…..encouraged me to “get out of the car and come inside”.

This past weekend, at Cathy’s insistence, I attended a Women’s Retreat held by our church, St. David’s Episcopal. Her awesome daughter-in-law, Jenna, was also attending the retreat. The three of us traveled to Sewanee Tennessee where we stayed with 90+ women at a retreat setting with a fabulous mountain view.

Cathy and I were roommates and along with the other women—we learned about the book of Psalms; we shared meals; we shared stories; we prayed for each other; we laughed; we cried—and, being Episcopalians, she and I also shared a bottle of wine.

I did not have to sit outside and screw up courage to go in by myself—I did not have to try to figure out where to sit—Cathy shepherded me throughout the entire weekend.

And on Sunday morning as we had our communion service, I realized in that environment, the cockroach of fear had left—it was no longer in the room with me. That going forward, I would not have to sit in the car alone and screw up courage to go inside by myself.

I wrote in August of 2016 that I was standing at a crossroad….. I wanted to quit drifting….. wanted to  find a community….. a place to belong.

I am beginning to think I have found it.

So, with those thoughts in mind—I would simply ask that you look at your life and the lives of those dear to you—is there a cockroach defining who you are as a person? Defining who they are?

If so, perhaps it is time to take action….. to remove it … step out on faith….. and kill the fear.

From my recent experience—it will be well worth it.


The Cockroach Killers at the St. David’s Women’s Mountain Retreat—jfh and cb

2017-09-23 CB and JFH 02


12 thoughts on “Killing the Cockroach of Fear

  1. Loved this story. I have so many cockroaches running around I don’t know where to start. LOL.
    So glad you are finding that new path!!!!!!!!

    • Thank you. But remember, we all have cockroaches in our lives. The trick is to not let them define you–to not let them dictate the direction of your life.

  2. Janet,
    I always enjoy your stories. I just wish you would stop writing about me!! Seems I can connect to ALL of your stories in one way or another. Anonymous from September 23 wrote that she has so many cockroaches she doesn’t know where to start? Sounds like she’ll be doing the cha-cha-cha to step on as many as possible at one time!!! Ha.Ha. You are truly an inspiration. Just remember, what happens to you, happens to millions. We are not alone in our fights…but God can definitely help us deal with the cockroaches of life. Your former neighbor who still misses you. Love you!

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