When I was 14 I was in a creative writing class for English. We had to write a short story on something – could be anything. People did toothbrushes, jumpers and other stuff.
I did fear.
I did fear – about how it crept up on you and hung around, being menacing. I got an A.
It makes me wonder how if I was so smart about that then, that why couldn’t I see how fear just rules everything people do and say. OK, well not everyone and not everything. I reckon the Dali Llama’s probably got that shit sorted.
So how did I get from being conscious of what fear was capable of at 14 but still fell into the trap of being led by it, driven by it, coaxed by it, for most of my life?
Well, for a start because I’m human and humans are scared little critters. We know this because they are always attacking each other and blowing other people’s shit up. It would be tedious if it wasn’t so tragic that innocent people get slaughtered because some dickhead somewhere high up is scared of losing face, power, money, influence. It’s the tragedy of the modern world.
Bringing it back to the micro level again though, how has fear affected me? I try really hard to confront them, my fears. Consciously say,’ well I’m scared to do this, so therefore I must do it’. And I’m not talking injecting drugs or jumping off cliffs because clearly that is just dangerous behaviour.
I’ve done many things by pushing through my fear. Now I have a bank of things I can refer to when things get scary – things that I can point to and say ‘I did that, so I can do this!’
However, when it comes to relationships… well I don’t think I’m alone in being a little scared to put it out there and be myself. Ask for what I need and want. Walk the rejection tightrope. Of course I’m scared you’ll hurt me. I’m human.
But now I’m trying to push through that fear as well. Building the defences, hiding behind walls, attacking – none of that was very successful.
After a long term relationship where I spent a lot of time not really doing things because I wanted too but because I felt I had to, because I felt that was what I was supposed to do…well, it didn’t end well. I was scared to say how I really felt. Scared to be myself. Scared to be the ‘bad guy’. Scared to ask for what I wanted.
Now don’t get me wrong. I was no shrinking violet and I wasn’t a victim except only in the way I made myself one.
But then I got the sign. The big sign that if I was to be happy, and real, and live authentically as myself, then I would need to change. And I would need to start by saying ‘this relationship is not good for me. This is not helping me be me. This is not making me a better person. In fact I’m really being someone that I don’t want to be. Bitter and resentful and angry. I’m living in fear.’
What was I scared of? Being seen to be selfish? Being poor, being alone, being a bad parent? Being a bad wife? I never wanted to be any of those things. I never thought I would be any of them.
Yet here I am, five months on.
I ran the gauntlet of judgment and found it was mostly just my own. Friends and family have largely been supportive. I’m not a bad parent to my child – I’m actually probably a better one now. I can model behaviour that says it is OK to be happy. It isn’t OK to be somewhere you don’t want to be and that doesn’t make you happy.
It’s OK to be happy. You deserve to be happy.
So now it is left to practice this new fearless way of being. It hurts. It often hurts living raw and real and open. People hurt you. They hurt you, sometimes badly, because they are people living with their own battles and fears. They are also living with their ‘I’m not OK’. Their fear of not being good enough.
It’s a constant effort to stay on top of fear in relationships. I don’t always succeed. But I’m succeeding more often now, which is a happy improvement for me.
I’ll keep trying to live and be in relationships without fear. I’ll be practicing on everyone!
Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring