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.