Fighting fear

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Sherryl Tarnaske

Every year, the winter solstice gives cause to peer into the dark corners of my metaphorical closet, and drag regrets out into the light. Some are dusty and broken from neglect. Others were recently put aside to suffer the same fate.

Similar regrets pile up onto of each other filling the dark space with self-doubt, second guesses, hesitation, unspoken words of assertion, sadness. or love. These regrets develop into a self-sustaining eco-system of fear. Spiders work for generations to create an intricate system of webs between seemingly unrelated instances of regret. But drag them all out by the light of a fire and they sparkle with deep describable connections.

They flicker and dance before my minds eye, depicting a long chain of self-deprecating mantras held up as an excuse elegantly linking one regret to another though one single word.

In 2012 the word was FEAR. Fear of speaking up, being vulnerable, stepping out of my comfort zone, fear of judgment, love, lack of love, conflict, death, not having enough money or being alone. The mid-winter fire lit up the fears one by one; outlining the web of fears that covered my ambitions turned regrets and shoved in the closet.

Fear is an emotional response to a perceived threat, compounded by an inability to find strength and confidence in vulnerability. To conquer fear we must be able to see things as the truly are. Assess the root of that fear and take action. I needed to get on the Judo mat.


Nothing puts your fears and vulnerabilities in your face like learning to fight. Every conflict that was laden with regrets project in the mind like overlapping movies. All the shoulda-coulda-wouldas turn into one big ball of blinding adrenaline that throws you face first to the mat long before your challenger does.

In Judo an Uke is the receiving body who takes the throw. Being hurled upside down, held down or choked is going to happen and you must let it happen. You are NOT in control of what is happening; you can only control the reaction. There are no more shoulda-coulda-wouldas; there is only here and now.

I spent months in weekend family classes being hurled to the mat, pinned and choked in the hands of 8 Sensei, and their kids. Every break fall brought a reminder of the lesson to release my white-knuckle grip on control. Eventually earning me a yellow belt. That yellow belt had been woven from bruised ego, arms and knees, then dyed with sweat, fears and tears symbolizing the journey. The effort was rewarding but paled in comparison to the fight that earned me an orange belt.

My opponent was one of the Sensei who had been teaching me every Saturday for well over a year. She was not done yet. A yellow belt facing a black belt was not a match of skill. It was a challenge to face failure, insecurity and uncertainty. Opportunity to acknowledge my inexperience, face my fear, trust my judgment and set onto the mat anyway. 

The fire from within persevered through grappling, immobilizing hold-downs and searing arm bars ending with my submission in both matches. The burning web of fears incinerated my rusty pile of regrets, laying a path of ashes before me to stand upon.

I CAN do this; I AM strong; fear will NOT stop me. 2012 removed the fears to build upon courage in 2013 and never again hold storage for regrets. More on 2013 and my yoga journey in my next post.  

Cher Rae Arts and completing my Yoga teacher certification are two manifestations of my re-discovered courage. Thank you all for your love and support. I am truly grateful for the past lessons that have brought me to dedicating 2014 to balance.


With love,

Sherryl (Cher Rae)

Posted in 2014, Cher Rae, courage, fear, judo, personal growth, Yoga


Recent Articles