There are many ways to live in fear. When we hear the word fear, many conjure images of death, destruction, abuse, abandonment…. Of course, all of these situations would likely cause fear to arise in most of us.
Fear’s power, however, is not limited to such severe conditions. In fact, I believe that fear’s greatest damage is done in the subtlest ways, oftentimes when no one’s even paying attention.
The little girl who sits on the bus so quietly, praying that she won’t be noticed, and bullied. The mother and father who regard their little boy playing in the playground, neither acknowledging the nagging notion that, “something’s not quite right with him.” The teenage girl who feels her heart race as she sits down to dinner with her family, terrified to eat too much, terrified to be seen eating too little…
We give so much energy to the big disasters in life, but often it’s the seemingly smaller damages that accompany us all of our days. As I grow up (finally) and have the courage to take a look at my oldest and deepest patterns in an attempt to know this girl who always flitted from one challenge to another, unscathed, I am taken by the power of the little things, or that which seemed little then.
I have lived a life that has been labeled, “Resilient,” “Brave,” “Strong.” Well, maybe so. But as I’ve been bold enough to take a really unabashed look at my truths, I’m realizing that those three words (as lovely as they are) are not the ones that most accurately personify this little journey I like to call the last 40 years. My word, if I’m to be honest, is fear. I’ve spent my whole life in a f’ing panic.
Am I good enough? Am I pleasing you? Do I fit in? Am I thin enough? Will I be invited? Will you be nice to me? Do you understand me? Can I trust you? Each of my behaviors has been analyzed to make sure I was perfect (Thanks, Dad.)
But you know what? I can’t bring myself to blame him anymore, as it’s become painfully clear that the moment he set down the baton, I grabbed it and ran (and beat myself over the head with it!). I have lived in fear for the million reasons that made up MY life, and you have your million reasons. As I live and work with my beautiful, amazing clients, I am more and more convinced that this word is really significant for all of us.
Here is the most profound epiphany I’ve ever had: If I am a victim of my OWN fear, then I am also the OWNER of this unwelcome guest.
I have power. I can be unafraid, I can embrace my truth and be kind to the beautiful imperfect person whom I’m getting to know. I can combat the ancient fear that has created my patterns which are no longer working for me. Maybe life isn’t over. Maybe even though each of us are so sure that we “know who we are,” we don’t… not yet at least.
If there’s anything I’ve learned in my life it’s this: until we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, raw and true, there is ALWAYS more to learn about each of us. Perhaps this self-perspective will lead to a different word to define us. Personally, I prefer, “Peace.”