Thursday, June 24, 2010

“Be . . . Not Afraid”

Fear. If I were to simplify everything about the disease, distill it all down to one single, simple aspect, it would be fear. So much of the chaos and the drama of our lives stems at least in part from our fears.

We are afraid of what others will think of us, and so we try to control it. We make ourselves out to be someone different than who we really are in order to shape others’ views of us. We are afraid of not being good enough, so we inflate ourselves. We boast and we brag, hoping other people will be fooled and think highly of us. Some of us are so used to other people having low opinions of us that we recreate that pattern. We meet someone new and don't know how to handle someone liking us or having a good opinion about us, so we act like assholes and treat others with disrespect to make sure that they don't like us.

We are afraid of feelings. Waking up after our long slumber of being loaded, we find that we don't have much experience in dealing with emotions. We remember that our inability to handle them is one of the reasons we started getting loaded in the first place. We remember family from our childhood with inappropriate emotions. Anger. Sexuality. And, of course, fear itself.

My family is big on fear, and we each react to it in our own way. My mother is the most outward. She handles fear by worrying constantly--and out loud--about everything, to the point of making up things to worry about if she runs out. My dad and my sister do things a little differently. I, of course, spent many years high as a kite. The one thing I probably worried about more than any other was what other people thought of me. It wasn't until I got into Recovery that I learned this simple phrase:

Someone else's opinion of you is none of your business.

Working the program of Recovery helps us to learn how to deal with fear. We learn to recognize it and walk through it instead of letting it control us and run our lives. We learn to accept our fears, and (in time) how to let go of them.

These days, my fear shows up most when it comes to relationships. Especially when I meet someone new. All the old feelings come up: the worry that I’ll do something wrong, the fear that I won't be ‘perfect’, the idea that I have to pretend to be someone else to get her to like me. I did a little meditating on this very subject today and received a fantastic piece of wisdom: be . . . not afraid. Not just ‘be not afraid’ but something else: be the exact opposite of afraid.

I’m not a bible thumper by any stretch of the imagination, but I know this passage and there’s something profound about it. The message is very simple: we don’t have to be afraid, God has it all under control. In Recovery, we learn to ‘let go and let God’. We learn to live by faith, to trust our higher power to take care of us and give us what we need even if it’s not what we want.

I lot of people come into the rooms hating God. They feel God has turned against them, betrayed them. A lot of people who have been in the rooms for awhile look back on those feelings and say that they now realize they were the ones who had turned against God.

Ultimately, my fears about relationships are about my fear of being alone and unloved. Through working the program, I continue to find a deeper truth in that old saying that ‘God is always with me’. I am never alone. I am always far more loved than I could ever comprehend. Maybe I don’t have a romantic partner right now, but that doesn’t mean I’m unloved. I have friends in my life. There are many, many, many people who know me and love me. And even if I didn’t have that, I would still have the incomprehensible, infinite love of my higher power.

There really is no reason to be afraid--ever. Be . . . not afraid.

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