Where’s the Wizard When You Need Him?
I was thinking the other day, trying to remember the first time I felt afraid. I had two images pop into my head. The first was when I was young, under 10. We were living in a small town in upstate NY and it was a time where you could wonder down the street and play at the neighbor’s house all day and no one worried about your safety. My older brother and I were playing at a friend’s house, it was getting towards dinner time, but we were having too much fun to adhere to the time set to go home. My mother had a fierce whistle, one that could be heard from our house down the street and it was our summons to come home. That day, still entrenched in our fun, we didn’t hear the whistle and my mother had to come find us at our friends and she was not happy. I felt fear that day of the consequences that would ensue when we got home.
The other time was when my older brother and I had taken golf clubs up to the local baseball field to hit some golf balls just for fun. On one of my back swings I caught him square on the cheekbone and the blood starting gushing. We ran home, me in total fear of what would happen to me for being so careless even though it was an accident.
I don’t recall the “punishments” of either memory or if there even were any. I just remember feeling afraid of disappointing my parents, letting them down and knowing I had made a mistake in both scenarios.
Fear is such a strong motivator. I can recall in life being asked if I did or said something and my immediate response is to want to deny, deny, deny. I didn’t want to be caught, was afraid of the consequences and would attempt to avoid at any cost. Of course this is not a way of living for me and have learned that I need to be honest. It’s that fight or flight instinct that kicks in and wants to dictate an initial response. If there is trouble let me get away from it. And that trouble can take various forms: losing a job, anger from a partner or friend, rejection, etc. Fear can also stop you in your tracks. People avoid situations and experiences because they are afraid to try. Individuals can be paralyzed by fear.
I’ve learned to have a working relationship with fear. When I feel afraid, I generally force myself to go towards the situation, action, or person that is initiating the fear. You see I don’t want anything to control me, so I push. I feel if I let an emotion stop me then I lose the opportunity to grow and change, intellectually and emotionally.
Lately though, I have felt my cowardly lion force its presence front and center.
My upbringing did not offer a lot of stability and security. I have spent years working to overcome my insecurities, my limiting beliefs, and my hurt, to work to find confidence, happiness and security. It’s an ongoing process that I accept as a journey through life. I’m ok with that most days.
What I have found though, in my needing to face the disruption that occurred in my life with the change of my significant relationship is I had created a safety dome around my life, an illusion, maybe a dream of safety. I had based my security partly on being in a relationship, knowing that no matter what came my way I had a partner who would walk with me. Better or worse, MY heart was committed.
When this crumbled, I had to face my immediate fear of survival. It motivated me, as fear can do, to be sure I could provide for my family and create a secure and stable home on my own. I put my head down, so to speak, worked and have created a financial cushion of safety for my children and myself. Job well done me.
So, why am I still afraid? I began to see, being vulnerable was again a challenge. I wanted to remain in control of my experiences, and of the people around me so I could avoid being devastated again. I would examine each scenario, action, non-action, and conversation and would attach definition so I could feel safe.
Still, trying to create the dome, and still it was an illusion.
I’m remembering the words I have told countless friends, my daughter, my self, over and over again. If you are going to love, you will feel hurt. It’s a song for goodness sake!! LOVE HURTS!
As I continue to go day to day, I recognize how afraid I am. First, doing life without a partner is challenging for me. Yes, I can do it. Have been doing it, and doing it well. But my desire is to share life with someone. I like waking up next to the one I love. Starting a new day. I even like seeing them start their new day, so much ahead to experience and share. Possibilities.
I realized though, fear/anxiety was permeating my life in a totally new way. Even where I had made great accomplishments I was unable to attach the confidence I thought I would attain having reached various goals. Fear was prevalent, on a daily basis so I began to look at what I was afraid of. Here it is.
I am afraid to risk my heart again. Truly put myself out there, open and vulnerable, knowing I can be hurt. I understand I must open up my heart so wide that the risk/return can have the potential to be great. But I watch myself from the outside, and see where I hold back. I have become so timid. I fear rejection, disappointment.
I am afraid I won’t be seen. If I don’t have someone next to me, where I am my most vulnerable, do I exist? And by this I mean, we share our most tender parts with our partners in life. We allow ourselves to be most vulnerable, this is what builds that intimate love connection that is special between two people. It’s a commitment expressing I will see your most vulnerable self and love you, no matter what. There is comfort and security in that sharing, in that deep relationship. So if I don’t have that in my life, no one to share that with, do I exist on that level?
I am afraid no one will see my worth and want to invest in me. I have friends tell me I need to see my own value first. Trust me, I think I’m a great package. I have my faults, I’m ok with them and I know I work to be a better person every day. My fear is my time will run out and I won’t have the opportunity for someone to value, love and cherish me.
Now I wish I could interject the long pause that has just happened, to keep myself honest with all of you reading this, as this is my greatest fear that is consuming me as of late.
I am afraid this man that I have loved, what feels like a lifetime in my heart, will not take the chance that is necessary for us to begin again. I am afraid, fear will win and he will stay locked in his illusions and fears and I will not take the risks and if I do they won’t be enough. I’m afraid this love we share will stay below the surface and not have the chance to bloom. I’m afraid this man was my chance at a deep love that got intersected too soon and now is lost in a fog.