Fear. Abject terror. Anxiety.
Living in the Now. What is this moment offering? What does it require?
Who are my teachers in life right now? Where is my personal responsibility?
Does everyone experience emotional shitstorms like this? Is it just me?
Sometimes my brain doesn't make sense. My body quits wanting to cooperate. There are too many things to process and it's just safer for everyone if I retreat to my room and take a nap. Where's the ice cream? No, I don't need a bowl, the carton will be fine.
All of the above topics are swirling in my over-active brain. I'm having trouble forming a coherent thought, this will be likely a conglomeration of a bunch of them.
I have known fear, I have known terror. Abject terror. I don't throw that phrase out flippantly. I have seen the intent to do me great bodily harm in the eyes of someone close enough to me to cause it. Believe me, I was terrified. The memory of those moments can still cause me to shudder.
Years ago terror made its home way down deep in my soul. It set up house and although this is a disturbing thought, terror kept me alive. We were bedfellows, sure he kept me jumping, predicting the next move of my abuser, but prediction was my oxygen and I didn't dare live without it. Facing terror is not something I think is common in our society but perhaps it's my own ego talking, elevating my experiences in life as more dramatic or difficult than yours.
I have a bumper sticker on my car now. I put it there to remind me of something. It is the first time in my 16 years of car ownership that a sticker has ever graced the presence of one of my vehicles. It reads: "I overcome all fears." It's a reference to the Tough Mudders I have completed. But those accomplishments were irrelevant when I chose to permanently mark my vehicle in that way. It was a reminder, that I had in fact overcome all of my fears. We were no longer housemates, bedfellows. I had kicked him out and I was still here living and breathing oxygen. It was a miraculous eviction.
I have, to a great extent, overcome the fear of death. It's not an idea I relish given my small children at home and my concern for their future, however I have released the idea that I will have any control over when or how that happens. Other victims of domestic violence carry that fear with them into their future. Even after freedom from their abuser, they continue to walk around worried at any moment someone will intend to cause them harm and they will die. I did not want that path, that was not for me. If I survived hell, I intended to live out the rest of my days in peace and with joy, not looking over my shoulder wondering what would happen if?
I recently finished a book by Eckhart Tolle entitled The Power of Now in it he says, "ultimately all fear is the ego's fear of death, of annihilation." I live with an identified faith that says death is a fallacy and annihilation is impossible for me, so to live in fear of it is to deny the very faith I profess.
That doesn't mean that there are not some very real things that can cause us harm. One of the fears that still makes its home way down deep in my psyche from time to time is the fear of financial ruin. I'm a single mother on the path toward a graduate degree, without a clear job offer at the end of this. Fear relishes throwing all of that in my face. Reminding me of my inadequacies. Questioning my motives. Weighing me and finding me wanting. But when I quiet the noise and sit still before God, I know that those are all lies. I know that the truth of this life I have chosen is that I'm following God through it. And if I want to do that I must abandon security and give my fears away.
I chose to decide that I am capable of facing what is coming in this life and where I am lacking God will fill in the void. Otherwise I would not be living, I would simply survive moment by ever dreadful moment. We all know people like that. Gloom and doomers. Naysayers, who are consumed by their anxieties. It is exhausting to be around but it is also terribly sad. What a waste of each moment, which becomes a waste of an entire life.
Which is why I have another sticker on my car reminding me: don't feed the fears.
Because sometimes we choose to feed these fears within us. It's normal to worry and have concerns about life, but they can take on a life of their own. Those thoughts can become all-consuming and steal the very life force within us. I try to remember that this is a self-fulling prophecy. If I allow these thoughts to take over then they will drive all other thoughts away. They will become the erratic heartbeat keeping me up at night. Which will likely lead to whatever I'm dreading coming to fruition.
Or maybe there's another path? Another way? One that doesn't lead to my destruction. Maybe that path is even the simpler one?
I have noticed a change in myself and my way of processing as I have aged/mellowed/done a shit ton of therapy and personal growth work. I am more able to let things go. It's not that I don't experience those moments when the sky is literally falling and everything is going to blow the hell up and life is horrible, I absolutely still do. Ask my friends. I have been there recently, like this week. But I am now more able to walk through those moments and then choose to stop living there in the middle of that shit storm. Because I have realized that I have a choice. And living there is madness. I in no way have the ability to predict the future. I in no way can control another person's actions or emotions, not even my own children's. I cannot possibly venture a guess at the course tomorrow will take. So choosing to believe that the sky is actually literally going to fall, leaves me looking rather foolish.
I have learned that no matter how dark I think the night is, it usually gets 4 to 5 shades darker before relief comes through. I have learned that expecting to completely fix all of life's problems in a day is complete madness. While we'd all love to wake up in the morning having everything that was haunting us gone; that's not how things actually work. Therefore, it is equally mad to do nothing and expect things to change in the manner you would prefer them to. I can not do everything today but neither does that excuse me from doing nothing today.
That is how people get fit, one thing at a time, every day. That is how people become experts in their field, learning one thing at a time, everyday. That is how every person you know who has something colossally difficult has done it, one thing at a time, everyday.
I have friends who see me as fearless. They look at my life and tell me I must be to overcome what I have. They're wrong. I love them but they don't know. I'm not fearless. I do not...
Laugh without fear at the future.
I have simply learned that the future is not where the battle of defeating fear is waged. It is waged in the only moment we ever have, Now. I am here, living and breathing and rejoicing at the many gifts my life has offered me now. To live in fear, anxiety or terror now would be to squander all of those gifts.