*Dealing With "Unreasonable" Fear*
By: Techsar
23 December 2005

How many times have you thought about how you would handle the need to do something that may seem perfectly normal? I found a situation that got my undivided attention in an unexpected manner.

Some elderly friends of mine had suffered some damage to their electrical entrance box due to hurricane Katrina. A neighbor of theirs had installed a new entrance and main breaker box, but had found some creative wiring that needed immediate correction. He had disconnected the offending circuits in the time he had available, but this left no power to the kitchen and master bedroom receptacles.

I had an extra day off from work and volunteered to run the necessary wiring and make the appropriate connections. This would entail running two separate lines under the house. No problem.

All went well at first. One line needed to go roughly 50 feet under the house, the other only 30. It seemed a simple enough task. It was, for the first few minutes.

After feeding the wire through the wall into the crawl space, I began fastening the wire to the floor joists. This went slowly, as there was only 16 inches of room from the bottom of the joists to the ground. After proceeding about 20 feet, things got a bit tighter. Water pipes were an obstacle, as well as propane lines. Added to this were odd-spaced support columns from at least two jobs of leveling the house. Some were spaced only 15 inches apart, and the many pipes and columns prevented access, except through one small opening.

Making my way through the narrow passage on my back, I discovered that about halfway into the gap, not only was there another drain but more gas lines, requiring an "S" maneuver to get through. Also the clearance had diminished to 12 inches. This is the point when I initially discovered "the problem."

I found myself sweating quite a bit, and noticed an elevated heart rate. As the temperature was only 60 degrees and I am in fairly good shape, I quickly ruled out exertion as the cause. This left anxiety as the most likely culprit. Knowing that it would be impossible for my friends to assist in any meaningful way to pull me out if I panicked, I closed my eyes, took a couple slow deep breaths, and made my way out as quickly as possible.

Out in the open again, I took stock of what had happened and decided that to beat this, I had to deal with it. I had told them I would do the job, and do the job I would! Darned the torpedos - full steam ahead! Back under I went…

This time I didn't go quite as far, figuring to conquer the problem in stages. I had to route the other electrical line along the same area, so I began pulling the second line underneath.

A wave of cold hit me…I again retreated to the daylight…and open space.

This time I went to a different access point and made an attempt to reach the area I needed to be, only to be blocked by another gas line going through the other access hole. But no manifestation of impending doom or fear occurred. The clearance was a bit higher here, so I looked around and found a small hole in the wall that a snake (not the live kind) could be fed to pull the first wire through. Still no further problems. Good!

Going back to the other end of the house, I made a mental plan of what exactly I was going to do. I went to a very small access opening and fished the first wire though the small hole and made the connections. Went ahead and hooked the line into the new circuit breaker and checked for correct polarization for all of the receptacles it supplied. So far, so good.

Without pause, I went back into the first access opening, and went straight to the junction box that had the wiring nightmare in it. I double checked to ensure that the wires were not being back-fed in any way. I totally immersed myself in the task at hand, not giving myself the chance to worry about the close confines.

Upon completing the last connection, I looked around at the clearances (still under the house) and found that there was no more apprehension. I took my time wriggling my way back out and finally hooked up the second line to its breaker. Again, I double checked all outlets for proper polarity, and being satisfied with the results, announced the task "complete."

What caused the reaction? Possibly the fact that I had not been in that situation before. There were no creatures to have caused problems, and the while the crawl space was not dangerous, it did only have one effective access point and as I moved further from that point, the space became noticeably smaller.

Not dwelling on the problem, but rather focusing on the required task not only resulted in successfully completing the task, but (apparently) defeating the apprehension that threatened to take control of the situation.

Is it a permanent solution? Only time will tell, but it worked for me this time. Facing your demons when they arise and not giving in or giving up can work wonders, and if you persist you may even surprise youself.

All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright © 1996 - 2005 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.