To Fear Your Fear

26 06 2011

It is and has been my life: The minute my fear shows up, I run, to the nearest whatever, be it a person, place or thing. I look for a safe haven, for someone to rescue me from my frightful fear. I look for someone to talk me out of it, to distract me, or I just turn around and walk back, away from the fear-inducing stimulus. Ultimately, I’ll do whatever it takes so I don’t feel the fear. I have been a master at fearing it, and hiding. I have thought about it, analyzed it, and even written about it, from afar. When the situation clears up – usually through my avoidance – and another one presents itself, I find myself at square one. I am back to looking for someone to help me, to extract me from my black fear. Vicious cycle.

Of late, only when I was forced to, I began to feel my fear, to stand in place, to hold my ground. It is a shattering experience, to sit there, alone, through it, to realize and understand what you are going through and not try to escape it. It completely unsettles you. To feel the tears working their way, to feel your heartbeats accelerating, to feel the shakiness take control, to feel so utterly small and helpless, to know that the monster comes from within. To know that although you are sitting amongst at least thirty other people, not one of them can save you, or alleviate your fear, for their reassurances simply won’t do. To admit to yourself, in a deafening loudness, “This is me being afraid.”

But it is also empowering to stand up to that inner enemy that has held you back for so long, leaving you with nothing – nothing feels right, nothing feels safe. It is empowering to turn around and face that monster, look it in the eye and say, “You have robbed me of enough time, enough years. You have robbed me of enough spirit. Now, I have to get up (for I will be taken to account). I am going to catch up and do what I can, only what I can. You can come along if you like, but I am not following you anymore.”

It is not a feeling that can be captured in words, but the closest attempt would be to say that you feel a new you, a different you, a bigger you that you sort of didn’t know about. A you that encompasses good and bad, fear and hope, a you that is bigger than the sum of its parts?

It is empowering when you know that this fear does not define you; it does not make you and it is not permanent. It is empowering when you hear yourself say, “I will feel better later. This is just . . . my irrational fear.” It is definitely empowering to know that there will be an end to the unsettledness, no matter how far ahead it may lie, even if you don’t know when this end will come. It is quite a speechless realization when you understand that this fear is your mind, memories, body, experiences all misfiring, jumbled up and giving you wrong interpretations of your present. It is quite (insert adjective here) to suddenly believe, in your heart, that you don’t have to trust these misfirings, that the situation you are in is not the actual one you were in eons ago, and this, might after all, be better, or just different.

A friend told me something that stayed with me: “Take the thing on, head on! HEAD ON!”

I admit the thought of taking on the source of my fear head on quite overwhelms me, but I believe in her words. Endless times have I read about taking the fear (and anxiety) with you and tackling whatever task you need to. Endless times have I read (and been told) that the fear will more times than not, after you do the thing, vanish or show itself to be completely unfounded and irrational. Endless times. How many times have I heeded? Nil.

Now, I am picking up the pieces while I still have time. My intention is to pack the fear along with all my other belongings (junk). I’ll take it with me wherever I go. I will not not go anywhere because of the fear. The fear, however, is free to choose: It can accompany me or leave me at any time it wishes. The fear is in me, perhaps a part of me, but, for God’s sake, it is not all of me!

This is not to say I am no longer afraid or cured of my fear. Make no mistake, I am that same lost, scared, no, frightened, small little girl. Only difference is now, instead of crouching in my tiny corner – I am walking – trying to – in small steps and learning to make my voice louder than the fear’s.

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