Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Many Faces Of Fear.

What do I fear, and why do I fear it?

I've lived most of my life in fear - as a child, and as an adult - sitting in the bottom of the closet inside my head, quivering with foreboding, waiting for that door to swing open to reveal....

...I'm not sure what, but I just know it's going to be ugly and painful.

I've wasted great stretches of my life in the bottom of that proverbial closet, too riveted by fear to be able to think with any rationality, vibrating like a tuning fork to the single note of panic. On my particular road in life, the deepest rut, and the one into which I can fall with the slightest of lapses of attention, is - fear. I can slip it on like a worn old coat from a hook beside the door, when I step out to face the world, and returning from the outside, I can step into it in the same way I would some ancient, comfortable, but dispreputable footwear meant for indoor use only - the garments of fear are always there waiting for me to choose them. Before Al-Anon, I wasn't aware that I had a choice as to whether I wore them or not. I believed, without ever having stopped to consider it, that this was my lot in life - to live with a permanent knot of fear chewing at my gut.

I can recall feeling pure fury the first time I heard the phrase "The opposite of fear is faith." Oh, right! And it's just that simple, too, just put down my fear and pick up my faith, sure, no problem. Except that for me, fear was so inextricably entangled and enmeshed in my experience of life as an unsafe and dangerous environment, that I couldn't see how faith could be attainable for anyone with half a brain. My terrors were not imaginings, they were real possibilities. I'd seen what life can do to those who are weak or even inattentive; I wasn't going to relax my vigilance for even a nanosecond.

I sometimes think of my first sponsor as ever-so-gently, but inexorably, pulling open my terror-stricken steely grasp, finger by finger, all the time speaking softly and lovingly of how much better it would be when I let go, and let God. I wanted to believe her, oh how I wanted to believe her! I wanted to live as she described life to me - doing my part, and then turning the rest over to my Higher Power to deal with, going about my day safe in the knowledge that He was looking out for me, but I just couldn't get there.

For me, fear feels like an old friend, one I know intimately, and don't like very much, but almost feel obliged to move over and allow to share my seat, if for no other reason than our long acquaintance. It can be quite the effort to muster my resolution enough to say, "Sorry, no room here!"

Some days the only way I can avoid sharing my seat with fear is to go in, kneel down, and pray to God to make the seat narrower.


  1. I can relate to this. I know people who are energized and feel more alive when in a state of panic, like it gives them some control. When you walk away from fear, you tend to recognize it in others. Faith is a good way out.

  2. I guess that I'm a true codie because fear of rejection still can get me when I least expect it. I find that trusting in my HP is what I need to do to overcome fear.