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"Fear of Flying": an Emergence Teacher's Story

a Young Mother Uses Social Priorities and Emergence on Herself

character type baby girl 2 social priorities 3,4,2,1
Jen's Normal Social Priorities
self centered two social priorities 3,4,2,1
Jen's BLocked Social Priorities

This emergence transcript is excerpted from a series of emails in which I and a young mother (who is an Emergence Teacher) discussed two frightening incidents she recently experienced. In both incidents, she feared she had lost her sixteen month old son. What is important here is that our exchanges are very representative of how we Emergence Practitioners live our lives and support each other. More over, they also show how present day stories can connect people to their pasts, including to the fear of flying and to times in which someone almost drowns.

Wednesday, December 14, 2004

Cast of Characters: Jen (an Emergence Teacher), Jen's Husband, John (also an Emergence Teacher), and their sixteen month old son, Jack.

Dear Steve,

John has insisted that I write to you in regards to some thoughts that I have had today about flying. It was a rather discomfiting day overall; however, John felt that these events were worth the telling.

I have of late and wherefore I know not, lost a sense of freedom in the planning of my day to day activities. I feel that structure gives me the most peace of mind and so, seek it.

That given, John had left for work and Jack was playing with a toy on the floor of my bedroom.

I went into the bathroom and came out 90 seconds later to find him gone. I called to Jack and heard NO answer. I began to search the rooms of the top floor and was starting to panic. There was no noise or sign of him anywhere. Then I saw the basement door open and ran down. NO JACK!

I began to hyper-ventilate and feared that he had asphyxiated and was unable to speak. A moment later, he silently walked out of the laundry room and grinned at me. I picked him up and began to sob, thinking a miracle has occurred and how lucky I am for being given a "free one" by the powers that be. Jack just hugged me back and said nothing.

When I felt I had recovered, more or less, I went to the gym, where I could let other more focused individuals watch him for an hour. I had a great workout then picked him up at the gym nursery and started home.

On my way home, I began to think about all of the "things" I needed to do, such as what I need to have in my carry on luggage. I also stopped at the mailbox to mail a few letters. Being a 3-4-1-2, I saw how my Social Priorities had somehow become reversed.

Then I walked the 15 feet back to my car, which was running with Jack sitting in his car seat. I discovered to my complete horror that the door was locked. I did not recall locking the door after I opened it, but I must have or I would not have been standing there outside of the driver's side door.

I turned in circles around the car trying to find an open door but there was none. I then began to think that this was all a nightmare from which I would awake at any moment.

I saw a man in a suit coming out of a house across the street from the mailbox, and I implored him for the use of his cell phone. I then called John and the police.

The police arrived first and managed to open the door in minutes. Jack and I are reunited without much notice from Jack who was busy watching his DVD.

We get home and John walks in the door, 5 minutes later, to find me crouched on the floor hugging Jack and in another breakdown of tears. As usual, Jack is hugging me, saying nothing and patting me on the shoulder!!!

John offers some very comforting words in response to my saying "What kind of mother am I after a day like today?" (A good one?)

Crisis averted, he goes back to work, and I bring Jack to his room for a well deserved nap.

As I am rocking him to sleep, my thoughts stray to my impending plane trip this Friday morning and here is the interesting part. I notice that "WHY" is always the first question I ask my self with regard to my fear of flying. I do this even knowing it is never a good place to start and yet, in that moment, I shift gears into the first picture that comes to mind.

In it, I think about the one time I can remember really enjoying a flight out West to see my mother. It was the very first time I went to see her; however, it was the second time I was on a plane.

I remember feeling like it was just one big adventure, and that I connected with an older girl who sat next to me on this gigantic plane. She was in her late teens and treated me, at age 8, the way you would love to be treated by an older sister. This stands out, as my brother and sister were there as well, but I vaguely recall them.

I then wondered, where has this sense of adventure gone? Then the progression of my next few thoughts left me feeling as though I had entered the eye of a storm and all within me had quieted.

Moments later, I came out of this, feeling like there was no fear or tension in me. All I was aware of was Jack's warm body relaxed on mine and the sound of his breathing.

I was more than happy or content. I was free. It felt amazing. What had happened?

Just as slowly as the eye came over me, it ebbed away, and the tension returned but with decreased vigor. Then I had a scene emerge which I am not sure I can articulate in a way you will understand. But here goes:

A picture had entered my head. This picture was of a line graph that looked like a table in a science book. I knew the line represented the path an aircraft would make upon take off, then in flight, and then the descent and landing.

Looking at it, I felt that the take off resembled leaving one parent at the gate of departure, and the landing resembled the greeting of another on the other side. But the whole time the line was "in flight," I felt bereft and alone, without either parent.

I noticed at this point that my mind was blank. It was as though this scene became just a frame of time held in suspended animation until I could reunite with the other parent, a painful interval only to be endured.

I still feel anxious but also hopeful after hearing John's response to my story. He felt that it held merit and that I could not fully absorb it without witness.

I am aware of having had this thought of leaving one parent for another before, but I have never seen it visually, if you take my meaning. Please feel free to comment at will for I am hesitant about its affect on Friday morning and would love to hear from you before then.

Warmest regards,


On Friday, December 16th, I wrote back and said

Hi Jen,

Pretty amazing story, what with you being relatively new to the Emergence teacher commitment. In fact, there's so much you did well that I'm literally amazed.

I'm also glad John asked you to send your story to me, as I so like when people share their emergences with me.

In addition, I'm also sure there are many people who could benefit from what you've written, in that there is so much you did which people would not normally know to do. Especially in fearful situations such as these.

More so, if it's OK with you (and as you've requested it), I'd like to go through your whole story and comment on all the Emergence related items, most of which you reference but a few of which you may have missed.

I'd also like to post it on the site when it's done, as it may help others to get a better sense of how we Emergence Practitioners use emergence during our everyday lives.

As for my comments, to begin with, although it may be obvious to you and so, perhaps, you just did not mention it, throughout your story, you take no notice of how your having been in shock had to have affected you that day. What I mean is, obviously, much of what you went through that day, including your scares with your son, occurred while you were in a state of shock.

How can I be sure?

Not knowing is shock.

Forgetting is shock.

Fearing the unknown is shock.

Panicking is shock.

And the absolutely insane belief that you are not a good enough mother is shock.

Look. I know you. And although you didn't state directly that you are not a good mother, you do imply it.

Jen, you are a very good mother. An amazing mother really. So what happened this day? You were simply being human and reliving a BLock. Or perhaps, you were reliving several. So what do I see?

Let's start with the most basic part of your personality; your social priorities. From what you have written, I can see that you have correctly noted your social priorities were reversed: You are normally an "understanding first" and a "things last" person (a 3-4-1-2 person). However, on this day, following the fearful incident in which you "lost" Jack for a few moments, you began to think about all of the "things" you need to have in your carry-on luggage. Then you "mail a few letters"; also a "things" activity.

Both these signs indicate your social priorities have gotten reversed. Translation. Your normal need state has inverted and you were experiencing a state of shock.

In effect, you've become a 2-1-4-3; first thinking about all the things you need to do; next obsessively comforting a sixteen-month-old who is otherwise perfectly fine; next feeling the panicky feelings of being trapped (feeling you must regain your freedom); and finally obsessing as to "why" all this is happening (understanding).

Again, the reversed social priorities you noticed told you, you were in shock. Good noticing under fire, by the way <grin>.

Now let's look at the possible BLocks you experienced during your story. Please know, when I look for BLocks, I always begin by looking for any threads of similarity which run through the story or stories. Here's what I see in your stories.

First I see a thread of similarity about people "losing their breath." For instance, you write, "I begin to hyper-ventilate... and fear that Jack has asphyxiated and is unable to speak."

You lose your breath, and you fear your son has lost his breath.

So what makes this significant?

While many mothers would have lost their breath, I doubt most mothers would think their son or daughter had asphyxiated. Fallen maybe? Into something he shouldn't be into? But asphyxiated? Too specific to be normal.

The BLock? Very possibly the incident we've worked on previously in which you almost drowned in a pool at age three. The thread is most likely this; the possible asphyxiation.

Overlaying this thread is another which runs throughout your story, this time about how a mother and child suddenly and tragically get separated. And although you never state this directly, you do imply the child dies and it's the mother's fault. Twice, no less; once in the house, and once in the car.

Here again, the same pool incident comes to mind. In it, you and your mother were both present. Then your dumb uncle throws you into the pool while your horrified mother stands there helplessly watching you sink to the bottom.

Obviously, you didn't drown despite your having been seriously injured. More over, in all three cases; in the pool incident from your childhood, and in the two scenes in your present day story; the mother and baby get safely reunited.

Have you ever imagined what your poor mother must have felt that day? I imagine your mother must have felt feelings very similar to what you felt in your present day stories.

So now, do you see your mother as having been a bad mother back then, just because she failed to anticipate, and prevent, this frightening incident? Of course not. She, in fact, dove in and saved your life. Well, neither are you a bad mother for your not having anticipated these incidents either, neither of which remotely resemble the seriousness of your childhood incident.

What next?

Next, I see this same thread appear in the metaphor which emerged in you about flying. How?

First, both you and your mother (and also, you and your father) get separated by a plane flight. Then you realize that in between take off and landing, that your mind goes blank. You also write, It was as though this scene became just a frame of time held in suspended animation until I could reunite with the other parent, a painful interval only to be endured.

Please know, a "blank mind" is often the projected experience of death which still-living people sometime feel during wounding events. More important, we Emergence practitioners know "what you can't see" to be the wound itself; the missing piece; the bullet hole; the whole source of the pain.

In addition, your feelings of being in suspended animation are also feelings often connected with the experience of death. In this case though, rather than the experience of death itself, it's more the sense that you are about to die with no recourse but to painfully endure the death.

In your case then, by having something emerge which in effect, visually filled-in the blank spot, you healed at least a good portion of this BLock. How? First, you healed part of the BLock when you saw the line drawing. Then you healed part of what was left when you felt yourself passing through the eye-of-the-storm.

What is most important to see is that, what emerged in you was enough visual material to fill your blank screen of the mind, at in the time wherein you were in the in-the-air part of the flight experience. More over, whatever blankness may still be left may yet emerge in you during your upcoming filight this Friday.

One more point. Have you thought about what initiated this emergence in you, this after your having relived these BLocks so many times before?

First, the stage was the similar: a mother and child get separated. Breath comes with difficulty.

Second, the script was similar: a mother feels responsible for her child being harmed through her not having anticipated something painful.

Third, the process was similar: reliving the script put you into shock. Your mind blanks out. You anticipate death.

Finally, the outcome changes: This time, rather than simply enduring the blankness and waiting for it to end, you bravely visually explore your mind. What emerges then, is enough material for you to make sense of what was happening to you; personally, philosophically, mentally, and spiritually.

So now the really important part: Did you happen to notice what was going on in the instant in which the process began to change? It changed after you noticed the blank moment, and before you returned to the present. And what happened to you in this time? One thing and one thing only. You connected to another being in the midst of reliving a BLock. The being? Your son, Jack. First you say you "brought Jack to his room for a well deserved nap." Then you say, "As I am rocking him to sleep, ...

Jen, your connection to your son changed your entire experience of the flight. In fact, rather then reliving the fearful flight, you returned to what must have been an experience similar to your adventurous flight and the big sister experience; being so safely connected to your son, Jack.

What further supports this is, after the emergence, you say you "came out of this, feeling like there was no fear or tension in me. All I was aware of was Jack's warm body relaxed on mine and the sound of his breathing. I was more than happy or content. I was free. It felt amazing."

This word; "amazing"; is in fact, the most important word in your whole story. Why? Because this word is one of the best ways to know an emergence has occurred. No ordinary state then, amazement is the word which best describes the moment in which healing occrs; an emergence. It also best describes my feelings about that you and I can even grasp what this magical moment means.

In fact, this is what amazes me the most; that you and I can actually identify and understand what healing really means.

I pray your flight is, without exception, the best of your life. And that your vacation is as well.

See you in January.



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