Facing Fears and Finding Flow

“The essence of bravery is being without self deception. However, it is not easy to take a straight look at what we do. Seeing ourselves clearly is initially uncomfortable and embarrassing. As we train in clarity and steadfastness, we see things we’d prefer to deny- judgementalness, pettiness, arrogance. These are not sins, but temporary and workable habits of the mind. The more we get to know them, the more they lose their power. This is how we come to trust that our basic nature is utterly simple, free of struggle between good and bad.”
~ Pema Chodron, “The Places That Scare Us.”

I’ve been examining my fears.

I have a fear of being alone, and of being abandoned by the people I love. I fear being lonely when I am old, and I’m afraid of being rejected whilst I am still young. The terror that I might be misunderstood- and judged for misunderstandings- has held me back from voicing many things about myself and what I think and feel. My anxiety is triggered when I think I’m being treated as disposable, when I don’t feel full valued by the people around me.

I’m afraid of becoming so promiscuous that I’ll endanger my own safety: I fall in to sub-space so readily, can get swept up in NRE so completely, that hearing my own body saying “no” to something becomes very challenging- let alone communicating that “no” to the person I am with.

I fear that I am easily replaceable, and that if I make a fool of myself in a relationship, I’ll be left hanging just when my heart is expanding to reach another being.

wile-e-coyote

I worry that I will never find myself in a balance of relationships that are able to satisfy my needs mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically all at the same time.

I’m afraid that I’m somehow broken. Orion has said that going in to intimacy with me can sometimes feel like walking in to a storm, or trying to paddle upstream against fast moving rapids. And that makes me wonder- have all my partners felt this way? Does my self-looping internal dialogue on sexual shame, physical trauma, and emotional pain act as a barrier to what I desire to help me move through it? I don’t know.

As Pema Chodron says, “Fears are unnecessary baggage.”

The first step is acknowledging the fears, and being patient with them. Fight them, and they grow stronger- like pulling at a woven finger trap. Send them love and compassion, and the grip will loosen- and that’s something that is key to having a primary relationship with one’s self, I feel.

There was a fantastic article on a blog called Om Times recently, about moving beyond the victim role. I highly recommend this article- I have re-read it several times now and continue to find it incredibly helpful for me. In this piece, the author states:

“Responsible adults are empowered in their relationships. They are able to express their needs and share their feelings freely. They can confront their partner about problems which arise between them and are able to resolve conflicts with minimal difficulty. Because they hold themselves accountable, they don’t engage in blaming or shaming and they don’t make excessive or unreasonable demands. They respect their partner, which results in mutual trust and greater closeness.”

When it comes to fears, we always have a choice. We can allow them to control us, or we can choose to work with them gently, lovingly, tenderly. Intimacy brings me face to face with my fears and all my insecurities. When my fears are controlling me, I find myself making excessive demands, becoming confrontational. I notice myself acting like a scared animal who has been backed in to a corner, and is biting and thrashing at everyone around me.

So, in practicing having a relationship with myself, I’m embracing greater trust with my sef. I’m practicing seeing these, without identifying with them. I don’t have to hold on to them- and I can define myself without them. This also requires taking personal responsibility for things in my life, and stepping up to the plate. A lot of my fears are simply unknowns that I am tolerating, and I can lessen their burden by taking action in my life to do something about some of those unknown factors at least. Then the fears can quell into rational concerns, or evaporate with the injection of loving truths.

I’ve become aware that in my relationship with Orion, I’ve held back a lot out of fear. I’ve been afraid of feeling all the deep feelings, afraid that I will want to jump on a relationship escalator because of the depth of connection we share. And, whilst I really do not want to do that with him- or anyone else at this point- there’s a shared sense that we have become more than friends, and more than lovers. We feel like ‘family’ to one another- life-long partners in crime, perhaps- and even though we don’t have a consistently intimate relationship, it makes the stakes feel so much higher for me. I don’t have much in the way of family, and whenever I have grown close enough to someone to consider them family, circumstances have intervened and the connections have been broken. I am so utterly terrified of that happening to me again- and yet I know that holding on to that fear will do nothing.

And so, I remind myself to let go, to trust, to trust in my self, and keep going with my own flow.

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One thought on “Facing Fears and Finding Flow

  1. A few years ago – well, probably more than a few – I read something in a book that stuck with me and changed the way I thought about a whole lot of things: “Don’t let your fears make you foolish.” I don’t recall what book I read it in but when I thought about this, I thought, yeah, does it make any sense to let your fears run your life and keep you from enjoying what life has to offer… and in whatever time you’re gonna have to enjoy it?

    I’ve heard others talk about trying to deal with their fears, just as I’ve heard them say that it’s easier said than done when they’re told, “Just don’t be afraid.” And perhaps it is easier to say than to do but when you think about how most fears – like the ones you mention here – tend to cripple more than they serve to motivate, you can begin to see how fears begin to make one foolish.

    Some fears are good ones – they help keep you alive but there are other fears – again, like the ones you mention here – that, when you really look at them, just aren’t doing you one damned bit of good. I used to have some of those same fears especially when it came to matters of the heart; they made me timid and indecisive and I always dealt with those matters as if I knew all of the worst case scenarios were going to happen any second now. It made me miserable, made me a pretty fucked up person to be around; it eroded my ability to not only trust my partner but I couldn’t trust myself not to do or say something that would make me wind up all by myself, unloved and uncared for and a pariah in the eyes of those around me.

    They made me be less of a man and a person than I knew I had to be.

    And I wasn’t having any of it. I told myself, “Just don’t be afraid” because if the things you fear the most are going to happen – and you don’t know for a fact that they are going to happen – they are going to happen and there’s nothing you can do to prevent them from manifesting themselves. Oh, we think we can prevent them by trying to avoid any situation that might make them appear… but we’re not dealing with them – we’re running and hiding from them and here’s the clincher: We can’t escape our fears because they are always with us… unless we decide to just not be afraid anymore.

    But it’s not that they may happen – it’s what you do if/when they do happen that matters. And what usually happens is we are made to be more afraid, aren’t we? But you, just like so many others, have a choice: Conquer your fear – just don’t be afraid – or forever be held captive by them and allow them to erode what life and joy you have left to you.

    Choose. Or, as the great and wise Yoda once said, “Do… or do not – there is no try.”

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