Fear

Fear is a really strange animal.

I’ve seen two faces of fear, so far, in my life.

A deafening, all-encompassing roar that crashes into my life and forces to me to make some quick two-steps either out of the way or into the fire

Or

A sneaky, translucent wisp, creeping in through my nostrils, settling into my lungs, and submerging itself so deeply into my bloodstream, into my DNA, that I never even knew she was here.

I can handle fear so much better when she destroys my life in front of my eyes, but that sneaky little devil trick is a doozy.

Conversations I’ve been having lately have made me aware that she has made a nest of my mind and fully embedded herself into the way that I perceive the world and people. It’s an odd thing to be almost 30 and to have only just begun to realize that they way you were is not the way you have been ( I say this and then realize that most others never become aware of how they operate). I’d thought myself as fearless for a long time, but it seems that isn’t true at all. I’m pretty fearful in here, where it’s quiet.

As we grow and experience the world, life and relationships, we develop triggers – actions or words that we associate with a particular feeling or reaction. Positive triggers generally make us feel safe and loved. Negative triggers bolster the feelings of anger or fear.

If I perceive any of my many negative triggers to be true, then I will fear being alone, being abandoned. And like any other good pack animal, I only feel comfortable as part of a group. How do I act when any this fear takes over me? I become sullen, sad, despondent, stressed, withdrawn, inconsolable. And I don’t feel that I’m alone in this particular reaction. We see this time and again with anyone who has lost a friend, a group of friends, a lover, or a family member.

But also, I have a fear of being a dependent. I fear needing people, requiring their help, or taking help when offered. I fear owing anyone anything, or that anyone will be able to discount my contributions as not my own because of something someone did for me (which routes its way back to a trigger).

My fear system keeps people on the fence-line, some gray area of both needing to be part of a social system and an unrelenting inability to trust that anyone who comes past that fence has my best interest at heart.

So knowing that my primary operation mode is fear, how do I go about changing this so I can stop sabotaging myself? How do I move from fear to love?

I’m still figuring that part out. But it’s good to have a starting place.

a whole new world…

My stories are beckoning, but my spirit cannot be moved. I want nothing more than to read and write memoirs, nothing more than to share my human experience and have it validated in some way. Always seeking validation, it seems. We all are, especially we that participate so vigorously in social media.

I am guilty of it. But I don’t feel guilty or sinful or prideful. I like seeing the notifications on any one of the three social media sites I frequent. Having a new follower gives me a sense of belonging, seeing that some has liked my blog posts makes me feel heard, a comment on a status update helps me feel like I’m part of the conversation. For an outsider such as myself, these things are monumental. But I recognize how trivial they are to anyone else.

I think it’s human nature to want to make a mark, to want to impact the course of history. We’ve journaled, painted, sculptured, wrote volumes upon volumes of books, chronicled the lives of the now dead and what, it’s supposed to stop with this generation? We’re supposed to take no notes of the lives we live, leave no trace of our existences? So silly.

Is it narcissistic to love yourself? Maybe. I am not in love with myself, but I do love myself in a way that only I can. I want to feel important because if I feel insignificant, I will assess that life has no meaning and I will cease to have a reason to exist. Why live if not to make an impact?

We are no longer a society of modesty, morality, or outmoded traditions. Some of us favor the long-standing rituals of marriage, children, 9-5, white picket fence only to find that it is lackluster and empty. And yet others of us recognized early on that our generation was meant to be a catalyst for a new way of living. They embraced it, encouraged it and are now the frontrunners in technology, music, art, and society. They embraced their eccentricities and forged ahead, while the rest of us did what we were told to do and are now living boring lives.

For all of us on social media, who blog, vlog, instagram, vine, snapchat, tweet, or anything else that connects us to everyone else —  Are we making our mark in a positive, thoughtful way? Are we encouraging social growth? Are we banishing traditions, old methodologies? And is it right? Is what we’re doing, the agendas we’re pushing, are they right? Are we encouraging the growth of a new world that involves everyone, that celebrates diversity, and encourages self-love?

I don’t think the women of the suffragette movement could have predicted the impact feminism might have had in the world 150 years from it’s inception. I don’t think they could have predicted that women would have outnumbered men in college attendance, or that the fall of the nuclear family and the rise of single parenthood could have had such an impact on the American socio-economic structure.

What kind of world are we pushing ourselves toward? Are we rallying for change because change is necessary and helpful and good? Or are we simply converging to make any mark possible?

Am I a Late Bloomer…?

When I was a kid, my grandmother would often remark how mature I was. I was routinely picked to handle responsibilities and friends would often comment on my emotional strength when faced with difficult events or situations. I was the voice of reason, the one with the clear perception of the world for much of my childhood and teens years. Isn’t that insane?! But it’s true and I kind of relished it – until I didn’t and then I lost all sensibility.

What happened?

Oh, love. And it happened in such a big way, my persona couldn’t handle it.

I didn’t actually fall in love or anything until I graduated high school. All the puppy-love and cute hand-holding stuff didn’t compare to what I found myself in around the age of 18, months after I’d graduated high school and right smack in the middle of the awkward period of my life when I didn’t know what to do with myself or my time. I made a silly, heartfelt decision (which I now stand by because I’ve been blessed  in unimaginable ways) to not develop who I wanted to be and in doing so, I lost my strength, my sense, my self.

We are imbued with many, many stories of the women who have lost herself in love, been destroyed by love, only to rebuild herself from the wreckage of a past life, from the destruction of once lovely existence. I relate to these women and I want to say, “I am one of you.” I don’t know how many times she has had to rebuild or for whom or what reasons.  I do know that rebuilding for yourself, for that great person you are who wants to be heard and seen and celebrated, is the best reason to rebuild.

I lost myself, and then I lost myself again. I’ve lost myself so many times that I’ve finally tired of losing this magnificent person and I just want to hold on to her for the rest of my life. Am I late bloomer? Maybe. I’ve developed this sense of who I want to be and I’m working towards her every single day.

Listen, though I’ve gone on about romantic love, this isn’t all that I’m talking about. We can be in love with an idea – the idea that being super thin and glamorous will make us happy, the notion that chasing that corporate job will bring us everything we’ve ever wanted, or that being ultra religious and conservative or even not religious and super alternative is the path to freedom – we can be in love with the idea of some thing as much as we can be in love with someone and make all the same wrong decisions for who we really are or who we really want to be.

Life is cyclical and for every season, there is a destruction phase and rebuild phase. We instinctively fear the change because we don’t know what’s around the bend – but what if we decided what it was? What if we stopped fearing it and started embracing it, with, at the very least, an idea of what we wanted?

I’m in the midst of a destruction phase. I’ve gone through the appropriate grief channels – I’ve been in denial, been white-hot angry and fighting mad to change it, and then utterly depressed. I’m reaching acceptance, coming through the other side of fear to rebuild my life into something better, something greater, something that is so much more mine that I am overflowing with creativity and inspiration to get started. It will take time, it will take perseverance, and a steadfast desire and faith that this is what I want for me.

And if I find that I am no longer in love with this idea, if I find that this really not for me and who I want to be, then I can change again.