Saturday, July 10, 2010

“Fear Is My Go-To Emotion”

(This blog is third in a three-part series, “Confessions of a Bad Mood”)

When I got home, I called my sponsor. He was amazed at how quickly things had happened with me going back to work. I told him about feeling sad and knowing that I’d get to the gratitude place eventually. He encouraged me to make it sooner, rather than later.

My sponsor’s real big on gratitude. I’d even go so far as to call him an expert on the subject. He’s been many places in the world and seen firsthand what real poverty and desolation looks like. He’s always finding new ways to remember how fortunate he is, how lucky he is to have what he has and to be where he is.

We talked about my fears of going back to work, how much I enjoyed having my time unemployed where I could just work on my music and my writing. I told him that I’m afraid I’ll never get a chance like that again. I told him, too, about some fears I’m having in my personal life--that I’ll never be able to handle a relationship, that I’ll always find some way to fuck it up. His suggestion was to recognize my fear, label it, and then step around it, and it reminded me of a story I’d written once. The story is of a spiritual master who gives advice like this:

“Ants follow the path laid out by those who have gone before them. But what if this ant, in the course of its journey, should find its path obstructed by a boulder? What, then, is it to do? Does it attempt to move the boulder? No. It makes a new path and goes around. If you can be like this tiny insect, and accept the boulder in your path, make a new one and go around, your journey will continue.”

I’ve heard people share in meetings about how their go-to emotion is anger. No matter what happens in their lives, their first response is to get angry. Mine is to be afraid. I’ve thought often about the last layer of tension I have in me. I used to be unbelievably uptight. Every once in awhile I’ll share about being tense and people look at me as if I’d just said I was from Saturn. It’s not something others can always see, but I can feel it there. Tonight, I realized that last layer of tension, that thing that is always with me, that last film of stuff that is holding me back, is fear.

I cried tonight. That is something I almost never do. I sat down at my computer to write this third entry and was overcome. I went into my bedroom, laid down on my bed, and dissolved into tears and wails. I’m so tired of being afraid. I'm exhausted from it. I can't sleep because of it.

I’m afraid I’ll never get the chance to be who I really want to be. I’m afraid I won’t be loved for who I really am. I’m afraid I’ll always hurt other people. I’m afraid I’ll always be fucking up relationships, doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, and on and on and on. I could sit here and type ‘be not afraid’ until the cows come home, but acting as-if can only go so far.

It’s so hard for me to remember the good things about myself. Tonight, as I was on the phone with my sponsor, I read to him my latest amends letter. He was really impressed and kept saying over and over again what a good job I had done. I nearly burst into tears at hearing that.

Fear doesn’t serve me anymore. It doesn’t work for me anymore, as surely as getting loaded doesn’t work for me anymore. It keeps me from being comfortable in my own skin. It keeps me isolated from the world. And it keeps me from being in relationship with others. But I have lived with it for so long, it’s not easy to let go of.

So I’m going to try treating my fear like that boulder in the story. I’m going to pray to be shown the path around. And I’m going to keep moving forward. I know God is with me. I know I am loved by God and by others. And I have hope that, in time, I’ll be able to let the fear go.

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