The Illusion of Fear

fear /fir/
  1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Fear is a learned behavior and usually the result of getting hurt. Fear can protect you but it also can cause harm. It can keep you from living a fulfilling life.

I grew up in a family that was fear based. We were groomed to fear God and life itself. That’s the goal of fire and brimstone. The more you feared God (going to hell), the better your chances of getting into heaven. For me, that fear kept me in hell. At one point in my life I was so frightened by God that hearing his/her name would send me into panic attack mode.

To get away from that fear I pushed God away. It was the only way to cope with the idea of burning in flames for eternity was to stop believing in anything. I didn’t realize until recently how damning that was to my soul as well.

While I put the fear of God away it manifested itself in other fun ways. I replaced one fear for another like they were candy bars in vending machine. When you’re groomed to fear it’s often difficult to see anything else. As an adult various experiences confirmed that I had something to fear.

I would venture out into the world like a scared, little rabbit. Something would spook me and send me hopping for dear life back down the rabbit hole. For most of my adult life I’ve been single because of fear. The few relationships I’ve had always ended badly with me being devastated and heart broken. All my experiences with love resulted in misery so that hard wired into my brain that I had something to fear. I couldn’t risk getting hurt so it was easier to be single. I went over ten years of being single and the relationship that ended that streak was the worst relationship to date.

I almost stayed in an abusive relationship because of fear.

I’ve thought a lot about fear, for an example spiders. Spiders scare the hell out of me and I’ve often wondered why? What makes a spider scary but a ladybug cute. The thing about fear is that it’s not always based off experiences it can passed on from one generation to the next. The tipping point for me with spiders started when I watched the movie Arachnophobia. That scene in the barn freaked me out. I won’t give you the heebie jeebies by describing what happened. If you haven’t seen it let your imagination fill in the blanks.

Everyone has fears. My greatest fear was losing my Mom. I was so frightened to lose her that I made her invincible. It never dawned on me that she would die when she did. So you can imagine that when she died my fear spiralled out of control.

I was so afraid that something bad was going to happen to my family that I turned into a hermit. I would go weeks without ever leaving the house. I encapsulated myself in a fear bubble and it slowly sucked the life out of me. When my Mom died it opened the floodgates to anything happening. So if someone who I thought was immortal could die so could anyone else.

One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Strictly Ballroom, “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.” I’ve lived a half life.

In the last year I’ve worked really hard in therapy to overcome this fear but it still holds a knife to my throat. It no longer has me held hostage but I still give it more power than I should.

When you’ve surrounded yourself with fear for a good portion of your life it’s difficult to come out of the shadows. It’s quite like being in a dark room for a portion of time and immediately walking into full sunlight. Not only will it blind you but it can knock you off your feet. It can also send you fleeing for the comfort of the night but it’s a false sense of security as it keeps you from the warmth of the light.

I think the key to overcoming my fears is to face them head on. I’m frightened as hell to venture back into the world but I’m tired of being paralyzed by the fear. I’m safe but I’m miserable. This isn’t the life I want to lead. My Mama wanted more for me. I deserve more for myself.

Whenever I face my fears they’re never as gigantic or scary as I’ve imagined them to be. Illusion is the only thing fear has to hold onto. It’s all smoke and mirrors.



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