Waking Up to Fear
Just woke up scared today. Couple of different reasons but mostly just generalized fear...the broken record of not getting what I want or losing what I have. This is always fear’s touchstone.
Fear woke me up at 3:30 am, so instead of trying to elude it further with forcing myself back to sleep, I decided to get up and have coffee with it...
I will tell you that I have had much better coffee companions...
Fear has a lot to say but mostly it capitalizes on the unknown. And there is so much unknown in this world...especially this year. What is going to happen and when has kept us all on our toes in a new and alarming way...the virus is surging again and everyone is totally sick of all the restrictions and can’t be bothered...
But this is fear’s best playground. The unknown coupled with fatigue. Fear dominates in this environs and kicks our ass repeatedly. Well, at least it does mine.
Why am I constantly afraid of losing what I already have and not getting what I want? It is never different, it is always the same. One would think that after 50 years, I would learn.
Losing what I already have:
What do I really have? There are lots of things I can point to: my house, my job, my kids, my dog, my family, my reputation, financial wellbeing, love, health, people I care about in my life. But do I really have any of the above? None of what I list is actually mine. They are all outside things or people who orbit my life. None of them actually belong to me.
The bank owns my house.
My job is at will and they can fire me at any time.
My kids could decide to go live with their dad or not come home and really there is little I can do about it.
My dog can (and sometimes does) run away.
My family is fractured and scattered about the country and we don’t really see each other that much. My parents are close by (for which I am super grateful, but they are not mine, they live their own lives).
My reputation is an illusion - I could ruin it in an instance or someone could make a false allegation that I cannot disprove and I could be done for.
My financial well being is a house of cards. I lose my job and I am a goner in short order if I can’t get another one quickly.
Love is fickle and I have seen many come and go. I am never assured that those I love, will love me back, stay in my life or show up for me in any really meaningful way.
My health is dependent on my actions and inactions and is never really mine. I can be as healthy as I possibly can be and get hit by a bus...
People I care about have their own lives and do not belong to me. I cannot and will not ever “have” them. They are here until they are not.
So why the fuck am I afraid to lose any of the above? Seems to me that all of them already have one foot out the door anyway...for me, the real peace with losing what I have comes with the knowledge that I don’t really have it to begin with...to think that I do, is just an illusion.
My life is best lived in a place where I accept and acknowledge that I am living on the edge of losing it all, and finding a way to be ok with all of that. It isn’t easy or a great deal of fun but it does makes me appreciate it all more. When everything is in a constant state of being recognized as impermanent, I tend to value it more and love without restraint.
Fear of not getting what I want.
THIS is the ONE! This is the one that kicks my ass the most. This component of fear beats the shit out of me, repeatedly. Why? Because of this fundamental and misguided idea that I am entitled to something other than what I currently have. This daily and relentless belief that I am somehow deserve more than I am getting. This is a corrosive thought process that always leaves me unsatisfied and afraid.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I have a very long list of things that I wanted that I didn’t get that are now the basis for a great deal of gratitude...
The drunk, abusive guy I loved when I got sober. I wanted him so badly. I “loved” him. No I didn’t, I just wanted him to want me and stay so that I could leave him. This is the most honest thing I have ever said about him.
A piano - I know random - but I really wanted one as a kid and was pissed that my parents wouldn’t get me one. Truth is that I would have never played it and would have felt guilty every time I went by it and ignored it. I am not musical...though I love music, it is best left for others to play and me to be an appreciative audience.
Lane - ok you know he would make the list. I think I have wanted him more than anyone else in my life. But it was only in his departure that I was able to find myself. In his wake, I found a part of me that I don’t think I would have ever been able to get had he stayed. Now he is back (sort of) and I know that there is nothing I can do or say to make him stay if he decides to go. And I have made peace with this most basic and fundamental truth - wanting does not need to be satisfied. Lane will remain in my life as my friend or we will lose each other again and he will go. It matters little how much I want him...because the more important factor is that I love him. And because I do, I want him to be happy, with or without me. Really. So wanting him is just a permanent state for me...if he is here I want him and if he is gone I want him. Although I much prefer his presence in my life, the want is the same either way.
Clothes, shoes, jobs, houses, cars, vacations - all just me grabbing at outside shit to make the insides feel better. All evincing that I have this delusional belief that if I can just dress up the outside, the inside will be ok. We all know, this is the biggest lie we tell ourselves. I also know that the purchase and acquisition of all of the above only provides temporary comfort. In the end, all of the above just becomes more stuff that I am afraid to lose. Perpetuating a never ending cycle of grief...
Men, relationships, friendships. I have gotten a lot of shit wrong in this department. A LOT! I have dated people that I didn’t even really like. People who really had no respect for me, which just confirmed what I already believed to be true about myself...that I wasn’t worthy of being picked in the first place. However, I have learned, and continue to learn that they didn’t decide this lack of worth for me. I showed them that I was worth very little and taught them how to treat me. I decided my lack of worth in my behavior and then blamed them for really just following along.
So I can continue to live my life between the holding on and being paralyzed by the fear of not getting that which I desire and of losing that which I believe that I have...or I could do something different.
I could wake up to fear...just like I did today and I could just make friends with it. I can have a cup of coffee with it at 3 am and see what it is here to tell me.
Perhaps it is here to show me
Where I am stuck.
Where I am in need of healing.
Where I am shoring up my ego at the expense of my psyche.
Where my instincts are in collision with reality.
Where I am repeating a pattern that I do not enjoy.
Where I am holding on when I should let go.
Where I am letting go when I should hold on.
Where I am lost.
Where I am shutting down.
Where I am accepting less than I deserve.
Where I am teaching others that I don’t value me, so why should they.
Where I am repeating patterns of behavior that do not suit me anymore.
Where I am engaging in old ways of thinking.
Where I am engaging in old behavior and failing to really look at that.
Where I lack acceptance for what is.
Where I am failing to have my own back...again.
So today I woke up to fear which I used as an impetus to really wake up to fear.
Why is it here today?
What can I learn from it?
Where is it inside my body?
Who is it about?
Why am I trying to control that which is not really controllable?
I decided it is here to serve me, as all that happens in my life is here for the same purpose.
I can learn that fear, comes and it goes, just like everything else.
It lives in my belly, that place right behind my navel that gets lit up like the 4th of July every time I accept less or fail to have my own back.
It isn’t really about anyone in particular, fear is always a self thing. The others are really just projective identifications to distract me from the fact that I am the problem even though I can think of many, many reasons it is really you.
I control to feel safe but I know, God Dammit I know, that control never really got me what I truly and most desperately want: to be closer to you. All of you.
So today I woke up to fear and saw it as the best disconnector I can possibly deploy. Fear comes in and unhooks me from all of you and creates fabulous stories about why this needs to happen or doesn’t need to happen. Which brings me back to the fundamental question du jour - am I creating opportunities for connection in my life or am I fostering an environment where I disconnect? Guess what? Fear is rarely part of connection...so I let that guide me today.
It is 5:02 am, I am done with my coffee and I have showed fear the door. Oh sure it is sitting on the couch on my front porch...but the joke is on him, I am happily meditating outback, sitting in the space where I recognize that everything is impermanent anyway. Which makes me giggle, and just like that fear gets up and leaves my porch. Because I know the secret, that which I can laugh at, can never hurt me.