Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fear is a corrosive thread that can run through and ruin a life. I don’t recall being particularly fearful when I was growing up. I was afraid of ghosts and had nightmares that any child would, but some fears snuck up on me as I got older. I remember being asked to sing a stanza of Good King Wenceslas in front of my elementary school- I had no fear of that at all. My sister even claims that I did an impromptu dance as I sang. You would never catch me doing that now because of fear.

Fear is a peculiar thing, obviously it is required in order to survive but it can be a bit of a double-edged sword. I fear certain neighborhoods at night and some even during the day that is a rational fear. I have a fear on enclosed areas such as elevators, which know this is an irrational fear. I don’t fear the elevator cable snapping which would be a healthy fear. Put another way: I’d rather have the elevator fall than be stuck between two floors. I don’t fear airplanes but that seems like a healthy fear, but I am uncomfortable in the back seat of a car for an extended time which is admittedly foolish.

Rational Fears
Someone I love getting hurt
My parents passing away
Drinking – although I fear this less in that I don’t think I will
Waking up from a nightmare at 3:00 AM- it isn’t rational but it makes sense

Irrational Fears
Enclosed areas
Panic Attacks
Public Speaking
Being the center of attention
Fear of being lost (but only while walking- and not when I’m traveling- go figure)

I don’t have very many rational fears- I didn’t realize that until I wrote this silly little list out, but irrational fears?- fugetaboutit. Irrational fears have directed my life in many ways. These fears have subsided somewhat since I’ve quite drinking and have attempted to live a spiritual life but they are still there and they crop up when, as we say in recovery lingo, “I’m feeling ate up”. When I’m edgy, hateful, selfish, self-seeking these fears grow. I have to keep spiritual fit or these fears will begin to run my life again. If this happens I would then have a healthy fear of self-medicating. Drinking, for me, washes all the fears away.

I’ve been thinking about fear because we will have some major changes in our lives. These changes will be good in the long run but they will fill me with fear in the short term. It’s best that I recognize this now, so there are no surprises and that I keep on some kind of spiritual path. Is this something everyone has to do or just us garden variety drunks?


Heather Annastasia said...

I have dealt with fear.

I used to wash my hands until they bled.

I barely slept for almost a year after my boys were born. They were triplets, one died a few days after they were born, and the other two had minor to moderate breathing problems. Anyway, long after their breathing problems had resolved, I continued to check on them at night to the point that it became irrational. Every time I started to doze off, I started to imagine that one of them had stopped breathing, and I would get up and check.

I've whittled my fears down to mostly just the rational ones these days. Except for clowns, I can't shake that one.

Writing for a living is terrifying. What if I fail? What if I can't make ends meet? What if I have to go back to work? I'm really not suited for anything else.

Self Taught Artist said...

good post. fear of things NOT changing is just as big eh? from someone who has had the panic attacks and irrational fears adnausium at least you know you are alive when you are afraid.
and maybe, just maybe, aside from the sort of fear that heather is talking about (which is traumatizing I would imagine), maybe the life changing fears that we put upon ourselves (moving...changing jobs/spouses etc) maybe substituting a different word for that 'feeling' next time you get it might help. Couldn't the word be excitement instead? Anticipation? Growth?
I think personally, when you can stop fearing your own death then all the other things aren't scary. At least, that is what I'm experiencing more and more.
When we can be in the moment, in the now, we dont have time to think this shit anyhow. Maybe that is the goal.