The pure adrenal, 'OMG I'm gonna die' fear doesn't stay the same. Part of it is that the words go away. You learn not that you aren't going to die or that you are going to die, but that being sure you are going to die has never been accurate. You get the adrenaline burst, but the voice in your head shuts up. You can think, and most times you can use the adrenaline.
Part of the stage of losing the words is that you don't think about an incident in terms of winning or losing. Those are labels and meaningless. You have a goal, you accomplish the goal. It's not a win because it is not a contest. It is a job. It's a good state to be in, very efficient, you have almost zero bullshit going on in your mind and clogging your reflexes.
But other things can step in. When I got named as a DT instructor, I found a new set of words creeping in. I still wasn't afraid of the incident, but I was starting to be afraid of failing in front of my students. That stage didn't last long, but it was definitely there. At another stage (and I noticed it more with climbing than with fighting) I realized I was worried about my kids growing up without a father. Caution increased.
Trepidation is a different set of fears as well. When I knew a situation was brewing, unless I had plans to make or equipment to assemble, sometimes there was too much time to think, and the adrenaline would start flowing with a lot of words. It would shut down when the moment became critical, but there were little worms gnawing in the back of my mind.
Little worms of all the possibilities if the threat was dedicated enough or sneaky enough; all the possible ways I might be misreading the situation; a checklist of all the people that stood to get hurt if I failed; what the gravestone would look like of a man who had lost...
All worms, all meaningless. Potentially freezing. Didn't happen, but it was always on the table and that was another of the worms... "What if you freeze? What if you just stand there frozen like an idiot and die without doing anything?"
And there were worms after the fact. Will there be a suit? Have I pissed off anybody in IA recently? Was there a better way?
My second ever blog post mentioned a worm. That after all the fights, all the experience, I still sometimes heard a voice in the back of my head saying everything was nothing but luck.
The worms don't go away. Not necessarily true. I have no way of knowing. The worms have not gone away for me. They have just shifted. All of the brain worms that used to pop up about danger and professionalism are now popping up about teaching. Twenty minutes before I start a class, a voice in my head says, "You won't be able to remember the lesson plan. Stage fright happens." During the class, "Everything you have to say is sooooooo obvious (and I really believe this) that there is no reason for anybody to be here..."
This probably sounds like a whine. It probably is. But it makes me wonder. I don't have brain worms about anything minor. Only things I truly care about-- writing, learning, teaching and loving (and that's a huge one. K is the best of all possible women and I continually expect her to wise up and choose someone more worthy). Is that universal? Does everyone get brain worms? And are they always about the important things? And what purpose do they serve?