Allegoria dell'immortalità (Allegory of immort...

Allegoria dell’immortalità (Allegory of immortality), by Giulio Romano. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fear is the glue that’s stuck me in more bad places than I care to admit.Whenever I find myself unable to move forward or back, unable to see my way past (over, under, through) an obstacle, it’s fear that usually holds me captive.  I don’t always realize it at the time, but I find when I look at the situation later, wondering why I did what I did (or didn’t do what I didn’t do), fear is at the heart of it.  The trick, I guess, is in realizing that from the start, in not having to wait for that ah-ha-slap-the-forehead-duh moment when I think, “Oh, shit, here I go again.”

There are as many sources of fear as there are people to experience it.  The insidious sort that crawls under your skin and takes up residence in the crevasses of your brain is what I’m talking about, the sort of fear that turns you into a rabbit beneath the shadow of the stooping hawk, often without reason.

What is there to fear, really?

For me, it was always “consequence,” what would happen if I did (didn’t) do something.  And let’s face it — our minds are wonderful at creating all sorts of monsters to keep us in line.  We never stop to really, truly think about the worse that could happen if we said yes or no in a given situation, if we stood up for ourselves (or others), if we refused to play by another’s rules.  In my head, at least, I always leapt straight to the worst possible scenario.  For me, the great looming monster was the fear of not being loved, of having no one in my life who would accept me as I am rather than pressure me into being someone I’m not.  I grew up without that unconditional love we all crave (you know what I mean — knowing that you’re loved even if someone doesn’t necessarily like you at the moment).  I spent an awful lot of years tying myself in knots trying to please everyone except me and running in fear from that spectre of abandonment only to have the threat of it (and the reality) loom large again and again.

Eventually (and this took years), I came to understand that I have reserves of strength in me I never imagined.  I learned that it’s okay to say no (or yes).  That’s it’s okay to defend oneself in the face of _______________ (name your demon).  That it’s okay to cut and run if you’ve done all you can…or even if you haven’t.  That sometimes it’s wise to stand your ground despite the thoughts of others.  (After all, not every road is meant for every individual.)  I realized that I was my own worst judge (still am)…and could do a lot more good by not being so hard on myself, assuming I’m wrong when I’m not, ignoring that instinct to survive, folding in the face of pressure from others.

And love me even if I sometimes don’t like me.


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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4 Responses to Stuck

  1. natasiarose says:

    I understand exactly what you mean. Fear can wreak havoc on one’s success in life. It’s a hard emotion to overcome.

    • Precisely! Years ago, I had a writer friend (fanfic at the time) who said that she was terrified to ever become professionally published because then she’d have to do it again and again and again and she didn’t think she had it in her. So she never went for that gold. I went there…and got it…but damn, I guess I’m greedy, because I want more. 😉

  2. Laurie Andrews-Lester says:

    I wish I had known in those vulnerable teen years what you were going through emotionally. Of course that is a time when we are so preoccupied with our own angst, that we aren’t always aware of another’s. I always thought you were such an amazing person, with so much talent, and creativity. I wish I had realized that you needed to hear that. So, I’m telling you now. You may not have had the unconditional love from your family, but you had it from your friends then, and now. I find that we create our own family. My kids have numerous Aunties and Uncles that are no relation, and are far more family than some of the actual aunts and uncles. Who’s to say that our family has to carry the same DNA?

    • Darling Laurie,
      I think you know how much it has meant to me that we’ve reconnected after all these years apart. I look back on the me of then and sometimes shudder. (I guess we all do.) There’s so much I’ve learned, so much I’m still in the process of learning, so many examples from the past that I gained wisdom from…and so many that I didn’t and so was doomed to repeat. (More than once, in some cases. Sigh.) I think the issue with my family made me withdraw in some ways — I could be there for other people when they needed emotional support, but felt unable to express my own doubts/fears for fear of rejection. It’s a battle I wage to this day. But believe me, it’s wonderful to have you in my corner. Love you, kiddo.

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