Overcoming Fear

A week ago, I had a call that should have made me happy and excited. I’d won a makeover and photoshoot with a local company, so Himself and me would be off to their studios to be looked after and made to feel like stars.

I was terrified. I was so close to saying ‘No, thankyou’ and hanging up the phone. Because the prospect of such a thing was almost too much for me.

I’ve always hated pictures of myself. I know this isn’t unusual, as we never quite look like we imagine from inside (I always think the ‘residual image’ of Neo in the ‘Matrix’ films would never be quite as effortlessly cool as they present it to be!). But years of mockery at school combined with the usual personal anxieties as an adult have not made me tremendously comfortable in my own skin.

But something in me seemed to rise up and silence those naysaying voices. ‘Nope. You’re doing this.’

For the last few days, it’s been an undercurrent of worry, rising to just under panic levels the night before. What do I take to wear? What will they ask me to do? How can I hide?

Ridiculous, perhaps. But so runs the track of irrational negativity.

Even on the morning we were due to set off, I sat for a while in a heap, not knowing what to do. Finally we both shoved some things in a bag and set off. Keep moving. We’re on the way now. I took knitting for the journey (yes, as passenger!), to calm myself as best I could. I know that my lovely husband was nervous too, but he seemed so calm, so ‘together’ and at ease. I was envious.

I’m so glad to say that I needn’t have worried. From the makeup lady to our host, to the merry and talented photographer, we were both put at our ease from the first. I was convinced to undertake what they called a ‘boudoir’ shoot, and throughout, the voice behind the camera kept telling me ‘beautiful, lovely, yes!’ The negative niggles kept telling me ‘she’s lying…’ but I gritted my teeth and kept smiling. Or looking moody. Or just gazing into the middle distance at a random stepladder out of shot.

Much fun was had when Himself was convinced to fetch his armour out of the car, by the way. In case you didn’t know, he does full-contact medieval combat (HMB) – so the sound of a cutlery drawer falling downstairs was in fact a real Knight stomping down the corridor. Everyone was impressed. Not your normal day in a photography studio, I imagine.

We were taken into a room and shown the results. Jaws dropped (ours). Smiles began… and grew. Laughter. Hugs. Stories shared with the photographer. She’d never guessed that I was so scared, nor that I fought depression, anxiety and panic every day.

I look now at the pictures we made, and the smile rises again. Ultimately, all I did was show up – the skill was all in those who crafted the images (and did the makeup). But stepping through the door was almost too much. Leaving my house was almost too much.

I’ve undertaken rituals to face my own darkness. I’ve been forced to look at myself, inside and out. This day may have been primarily fun, playing with props and clothes, guided by skilled hands. But it was no less a rite of passage, facing the unknown, overcoming my terror (I’m really not exaggerating there) and stepping forward.

I’m keeping copies of my favourite pictures handy, to remind myself when I’m feeling fearful. I left that studio feeling so brave, as if I could do anything. I want to hold on to that, to remind myself of what I can do when those negative voices rise. Because the deeper voice is remembering how to speak, to say ever more loudly ‘You can do it, you know.’ And here’s the proof.

Images and makeup by Chique Photography. Shawl is ‘Morticia’ by Boo Knits, yarn by Posh.

(I’ll be including a little more story and some additional images for my Patreon friends – please do hop over there and support me if you can!)

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7 Comments »

  1. This is amazing and you have all of my admiration for taking the step outside. I had a little bit of that kind of fear for my engagement shoot with my now husband. Photos…they really can be a tool for terror. We were meant to get familiar with the camera, get comfortable…yeah….right… oO But I am so, so glad now we have those photos, those moments in time and connected stories.
    What lovely proof that we did it, taking that step and facing ourselves through a different lense (or lenses 😉 )
    And: Wow, you look like magic and so you are.

  2. Liz White said

    Just wow!

  3. Fantastic photos. All power to you.

  4. I so admire you for facing your fears, I know something of that, battling with depression for almost 40 years after having my son. You look beautiful, truly, the photo’s are amazing. You are an inspiration.

  5. Leveneth said

    Hi Cat

    You wont remember me, but I attended one of your Druidry talks at the Cauldron about 5 years ago after being recommended by a mutual friend, Helen Brewin.

    I still try to practice Druidry when I can, although I haven’t started any Druid courses, working full time in a very stressful job has been a huge hindrance.

    I have been off work for 7 months now, and being treated for depression, (something my GP tells me I have been suffering with for some time). and I can empathise with your thoughts and experiences. Dark times and thoughts and retreats. Like you, I was the subject to ridicule and bullying at school, something I never got over to this day. I have to fight against the voices to even go out some days, and even though I have friends who have been through this, its different for everyone, and I cannot explain myself to anyone else, as it doesn’t sound rational when I speak it out loud.

    I can only applaud you for speaking out and reaching out to everyone, you speak about it very bravely, and I hope you did enjoy the results of the photo shoot, it must have been hard for you, as facing a camera has always been hard for me, and avoid it where I can.

    From the photos in the message, I will say this, they are fantastic, you look beautiful.

    Thank you for your posts, they are uplifting, and help me understand that I am not the only one struggling some days, I sincerely hope you continue to keep taking the steps forward.

    Paul Turnbull

  6. Elizabeth said

    All beautiful but the third pic – your expression! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hi Cat, first, thank you so much for your posts!
    I can equate with your fear of being photographed, I absoutely hate pictures of myself and I am usually the one behind the camera taking the pictures so I can have a good excuse for not being in them.
    It suddenly occured to me, there are very few pictures of me anywhere in the house so when I eventyally pop off to the summerlands my family will have no or very few images of me to remember me by. The question is am I being selfish or even vain for not having my picture taken? I am the one who does’nt like the image but should I be the judge? Afterall it could become a comfort or a keepsake for family and friends. Just a thought?
    The photographs of you and you and your husband are really lovely.
    Brightest of blessings
    Angela /|\

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