The Power of Fear

Fear has power over each and every one of us, even if we don’t want to admit it. Fear is a natural basic instinct that can easily control so much of what we do. I, from personal experience, know how debilitating life can be to live through the power that fear has over me. It is exhausting and stressful. It can be crippling.

How does fear have that much power over one person? Because we keep it all in and don’t share what we are afraid of. We don’t tell people. We don’t talk it out. We don’t write it out. We bottle it up so we won’t look incapable or weak.

This has been my life. I know I talk about fear a lot, but I do it because it is something that I am always working through. Fear is not simply something we can overcome once and be “cured” of. Fear is something we will work through for the entirety of our lives. The power that fear has over us is something we will continue to work through and against.

Something I learned about the power of fear that I didn’t realize that I had learned until I read this sentence in Worth It by Brit Barron, is that every time I write or speak about my fear, I am taking away the power it has over me. Do you journal? Do you complain to your friends about things that you won’t admit are fears? Me too. Do you feel better when you do these things? Yeah, me too. Those actions are reducing the power of our fears, even if we don’t realize it.

Every time I share something here with you when it is heavy on my heart or just by starting to type about something that is bothering me, I am reducing the power that the fear I have has over me. Sharing my story with you reduces that power. And you know what, it can reduce the power your fear has over you to.

You are here reading this post about fear and you probably have already thought of many fears that you don’t want to share with people for whatever reason. Or you’ve read a few of my posts and relate to them. A lot of them are about my underlying fears. If you relate to anything I am sharing and feel even a smidge better after reading it, you are also reducing the power your fear has over you.

You don’t have to have a public website to write out your fears. You don’t have to share them with friends. But if you share your fears with a piece of paper and a pen, if you write them out, you will start to feel so much better and you will start to reduce the power your fear has over you. I share with you because I know that I cannot be the only one going through this life with these fears or issues. No, we might not have precisely identical fears or issues, but there can be some sort of similarity. I am sharing so I can hopefully inspire you or be a mentor to you that you’ve always hoped was out there. I am sharing to let you know that you are not alone. And I am sharing because writing it out lifts a giant weight off of my shoulders.

Free

I’ve always wanted to be like that girl who is free from judgement or care about judgement and is just herself. You know that girl who dances like nobody is watching, laughs as loud as her laugh comes out, is silly, can pick up and randomly do whatever, says what is on her mind, and just lives her life like there isn’t a care in the world? That girl. I have always been envious of how she just does it.

I mean, how does she? How does she not care what everybody else thinks? Was she one of the popular girls in school who teased and bullied the rest of us for doing just that? Did she have parents who encouraged her to be herself? How in the hell does she do it?

I have no fucking clue.

What I do know is that I still want to be that girl. I want to be free. And as I write that, I hear Zach Brown Band’s song Free playing in my mind. Specifically, “Just as free, Free as we’ll ever be.” I see a girl dancing and twirling and laughing. I see a girl who is laid back and chill. I don’t see me.

I have lived my life in fear of being teased or ridiculed. The bullying I encountered when I was young has stuck with me all of these years. I might slip and be free and enjoy it and then I realize people are around me and I freeze up. I rein it all back in and shut it down. My fear of being bullied takes over.

What would happen if I didn’t shut down? What would my husband think of me? My friends? My in-laws? My coworkers? Will they think I’m immature? Will they ask me what the hell I’m doing? I don’t know. I doubt it. I mean, I can be that way when I’m drunk, like shit faced drunk, and haven’t heard anything bad about it. So why can’t I be that free sober?

Fear.

Fear shuts me down in so many ways. Today, I want to say no more. Today, I want to be free. Today, I am going to start opening myself up a little more so I can reach that free feeling I’ve always envied. I’m going to grow into this free and happy person that I want to be. How? Little by little.

Live in The Moment

I’m sure you’ve had someone tell you this a time or two. Or you’ve been the one telling someone else. Is living in the moment easy for you? It is, then this post may only help you understand those of us who can’t. If living in the moment is a struggle for you, you are not alone my friend. This is one of the most difficult things for me to do in life.

Glennon Doyle summarized it perfectly in this explanation in Untamed:

It’s just that living with anxiety — living alarmed — makes it impossible to enter the moment, to land inside my body and be there. I cannot be in the moment because I am too afraid of what the next moment will bring. I have to be ready.

Living alarmed.

Those two words explain so much about my life without going into great detail. I live alarmed and on edge every single day. I have to be ready. I have to be prepared. I have to know what is coming next so I can be ready for it.

I have to be observant and watchful.

I have to be inconspicuous and calm.

I have to divert the crisis that is about to happen.

I cannot live in the moment and enjoy it because I have to be ready for the next moment that is almost surely going to be some sort of disaster.

Anxiety tells me that something bad is always going to happen next and that I need to be prepared to control it. I need to be prepared to take action. Anxiety leaves me living in constant vigilance of what is coming next.

Not just next in the next second. Next in the next minute. In the next hour. In the next day. In the next month. In the next year. In the next five years. In the next eternity. Whatever is next, I have to be ready.

Spontaneous fun? No, that is not acceptable. I can’t be prepared for it.

Just chilling and hanging out. Mmm maybe but I’m still going to be considering what is coming next once I stop chilling. Also, this must be planned. It cannot be spontaneous.

Why does everything just want to be spontaneous and live in the moment when there is surely something that will go wrong?!

Because they are wired differently.

It doesn’t mean we are bad people because we can’t live as free as they can. I know we have times that life seems easy and spontaneity is possible and living in the moment is possible. We can all get there occasionally. But when we can’t, we are in a constant state of panic.

Some people call us high-strung. They are wrong. We are sensitive people who just want to make sure everyone we love with be alright. And that everything is put away where it goes and done exactly as we think it should be. That’s how we stay safe.

Living in the moment sounds delightful and terrifying at the same time. If you live or are around one of us who carries anxiety with us, give us a little grace as we navigate spontaneity and working to live in the moment. We are working through more than you can see on the outside. We are struggling and happy at the same time, most of the time.

Living in the moment will work for us sometimes and not others. It is nothing against you, it is merely how we are wired. We are working through it. We are struggling. We are overcoming. Take our hand and help us through it without condemnation or some smartass comment. That doesn’t help.

We want to live in the moment, but we also want to hide from the moment so we can prepare for the next one.

The Reason is Fear

My last post was a follow up to one from a couple months ago and today’s post is kind of a summarization of what I’m realizing the common theme is.

The theme is fear. The reason is fear. Fear is what causes my need to people please. Fear is the root of feeling like I can’t live my life, my way, in my own home.

This fear is irrational and is obviously ruining my days and weeks when other people stay long-term in my home. I have allowed this fear to control everything about me. It paralyzes me. I allow it to paralyze me.

I am laying here on the couch writing this as my friend is at the lake for the weekend. Sigh of relief, I have my home back. It feels refreshing.

Then I think of her returning and all of the things I can’t do so I don’t wake her in the morning or offend her or give her reason to judge me for what I am working on. I can’t listen to anything with my office door open. I can’t record in my own office so she doesn’t hear me and can’t judge me. I can’t go about my day the way I am used to.

It’s not just her. It is anybody that stays with us. I tell myself I can’t do all of these things so I don’t inconvenience our guests. Their comfort in my home is more important than my comfort in my home.

Why?

Fear.

Where does this fear stem from? Why do I continue to let it rule and ruin my life? Why don’t I just stop and do my thing in my home?

This fear stems from always getting in trouble for making any kind of noise in the house at anytime that interrupted my parents. It isn’t just about music. This had been ingrained in me so much that walking hard of the wood floor terrifies me and when other people do it, pisses me off or makes me think they are angry. Making any kind of noise with dishes, plates or pots and pans or anything, when moving about the kitchen is torture to me. Why are you so angry that you have to slam the dishes around? I’m so sorry I made noise when I put the pan away.

Noises. Any kind of them. They all cause me deep rooted fear of inconveniencing others or pissing them off. I don’t want to make other people angry. I do everything possible to make people happy because when they are angry I’ve obviously done something wrong.

This fear is as deep as any fear can be. And writing this post is helping me to identify is better than I ever have. Just thinking about all of the noises that cause me fear in my own home has made me realize that this is most definitely a bigger issue to work on than just people staying in my home and me feeling that I can’t live a normal life. I mean, I don’t typically make noise when Eddie is sleeping in on the weekends. If I do, there are multiple doors and a pillow covering his ears so he can’t hear me.

It definitely isn’t them. It’s me.

I continue to live with this fear because it hurts so deep when I feel I’ve been too loud or pissed someone off. This pain is more than just in my bones. It’s is my entire being. It literally takes over my body and mind. Pushing against that pain and fear causes more pain and fear.

The only way I can see to push back against the fear and overcome the pain is to start small. Small noises. Maybe some music with the door closed. Maybe not yelling at Eddie to stop stomping or asking him why he is so angry that he has to stomp. Maybe recording the next video in my office regardless of who is in the guest room next to me. Maybe working from the couch when I want and asking my mother-in-law to turn the TV down (you know, the next time she is here). Maybe listening to the next morning show with the office door open. All the while not saying sorry.

Maybe one little step at a time will help me to overcome the pain from the fear. Maybe it will help to break down that fear and that wall. Maybe I can finally release myself from the fear of noise pissing other people off.

Maybe.

Follow Up: I Can’t Do What I Need in My Own Home

I wrote Fear: I Can’t Do What I Need in My Own Home a few months ago, but I have returned to this fear and to this struggle. This time is different. I offered to let a friend stay with us until her renters move out at the end of May. She has stayed with us for just about a month and it has been one of the most difficult months of my life.

I have a deep rooted need for control, especially in my own home. My friend is so different from me, which isn’t a bad thing, that her schedule each day is completely different. She cooks separate meals at a much later time. She doesn’t get up very early in the morning and the room she is in is right next to my office. None of these are major issues, simply things that change my way of living.

I am a creature of habit and am very specific about how my things are used and treated. I have lost my ability to play music before 8:00 am on a work day or to leave my office door open all day, whether or not I’m on a work call. I am struggling with someone else using all of my dishes and cooking in my kitchen. I am struggling with my refrigerator being extremely full. Oh and we are still in the recommendation of social distancing and her office is still not fully open.

I am struggling with impacting her life or inconveniencing her. It is a mix of me being more worried about her than myself and me being possessive. I am struggling with another cook in my kitchen, a really fucking awesome cook at that.

I feel like this season happened to help me grow. I am being pushed outside of my comfort zone and it is definitely uncomfortable. There is nothing my friend is doing wrong. She hasn’t broken or ruined anything in the kitchen. This is all me and I know it.

I’ve also come to realize that I really suck at small talk. As in, I don’t know how to do it. At all. I struggle with being told the same story multiple times.

Why am I sharing this? Because I know I am not the only one struggling with the need for complete control or the only one who sucks as small talk. I know that you might be just like me.

I also know that no matter how difficult this season feels, I am growing through it. There is something I’m meant to learn from it. Maybe my capacity for not having complete control is being expanded a little. Maybe I’m being challenged to learn how to engage in small talk. I haven’t figured out exactly what my takeaway or takeaways will be, but I know that I keep finding myself in this situation for a reason.

What is currently challenging you?