People consider me brave! They tell me I inspire them. They tell me they’re proud of what I’ve accomplished. They admire my willingness to endlessly challenge myself! They admire my fearlessness!
I’m riddled with fear. Constantly. Always have been, as long as I can remember. I’ve sometimes been swallowed up by it. This, I’m sure, is a human condition.
This is exacerbated for me by an anxiety complex. This, I’m sure, is a familial condition. I’ve been blessed by genes that make me prone to “fits” and “episodes” that reduce me to a gelatinous form under my bed with all the lights off and shades drawn. This confuses the dogs.
I’m sometimes terrorized by my fear. Correction: I am terrorized not by my fear but by my voraciousness. Which is often diametrically opposed to my fear, it rips me from my cave like ripping a tree out of the ground, roots and all, I am halved.
I’m terrified and exultant. This is not meant to be inspirational. This is not a “Get out there and get ’em!” speech. Because one half of me is ferocious and demanding and the other half is trembling and weeping and helpless.
This is my compulsion, the way I lurch at new ideas and opportunities the minute they present themselves, regardless of how the rest of me may be feeling.
Change isn’t easy for me, like most people, and yet, I change constantly. I suffer from combat fatigue because of my preternatural inability to just fucking stop for one fucking minute.
This wears my friends and family out. It’s something I accept about myself. Kinda. I can see change coming like a rogue wave and I’m incapable of stopping myself from running into the crash zone. Fuck. And I take a deep breath and go limp and wait for the battering washing machine. And after I am unceremoniously spat onto the beach, scraped, bruised, coughing, sandy, and I limp to my Towel Of Evolution™ and collapse, and wait for the sun on my back to coax me up again.
And the fear remains. Every day. Sometimes I succumb, sometimes I can mute it. Fear is a pathetic demon residing inside of me that I loathe but that I wrestle to accept. Because it’s not going away. It will never go away.
From an ugly childhood I chose who I wanted to become. And I compelled myself to become her, mostly. The only part of that weird little girl I couldn’t eradicate was the fear. I used to eat it, literally, when ignoring the fear didn’t work. When I tried to ignore it my life would lie around me in ruins. So I ate it. I tried to fill a bottomless well with food. And then my body suffered and I was humiliated. You can’t simultaneously subdue your fear with food and look normal. If there’s something worse than having fear, it’s wearing it as a fat suit that people can point at. To tsk over.
One does not have fear, and if one is so weak as to have fear, one mustn’t show one’s fear. One must be a little soldier.
And now I attempt to live with it, negotiate it, find workarounds. When I can. Sometimes I win, sometimes it wins. And I try to weather those gales. I don’t like it, I sit stoically and wait it out, trying, mostly, not to hate myself.
I find my failings infuriating. I find my fear infuriating. I roar like conquered general.
And what do I say now? Am I supposed to recommend a to-do list “How To Conquer Your Fear?” Or, more aptly, “How To Trick Yourself Into Believing You’ve Conquered Your Fear?” or, most aptly, “How To Convince Yourself That You’re The Only One Who Ever Felt This Way, Because You’re A Bad Person And Always Will Be”? That’s a short list.
I don’t have any answers. I work. I work harder. Fighting my fear is a daily battle and sometimes it’s too much.
I guess the moral to this story is: everyone feels this way sometimes and the only thing I’ve ever found I’m able to do is fight. Fight!
I am strong of spirit. (Regardless of whether I’m right or wrong.) The occasions where I can’t dig myself out are fewer and fewer in between. The Rx helps a lot. And, frankly, so does history. In my youth I thought that everything was forever. I didn’t think I’d live past 25. It’s not that I thought I would die, it’s just that I didn’t think I would be alive anymore. (shrug)
But here I am. I don’t have many memories of my childhood. I’m sure this is a good thing. But I vividly and often painfully remember my adulthood. And I know, from looking into the searing light of my past tortures, that even my lowest point is temporary. This is the most sad part: I believe that the futility and the inevitability I feel at my darkest times will last forever. And here, I understand suicide. And here, so many times, I have wished to just stop being. But I’ve been in the hole so many times, and I’ve found my way, or been lead, out so many times that I know, empirically, I can again.
I know I will pop up, eventually, like a buoy. I know that the light at my core can only be hidden and not extinguished and eventually burns away the cold. I know that the air inside me is lighter than the forces pushing me down.
Sometimes I just have to hold still. And feel shitty. Really shitty. Sometimes for days, sometimes for weeks. And I have to find something about myself to love. Even if it’s my pinky toe (which is pretty cute). I have to find something not to despise and focus on it as though/because my life depends on it. And I just have to wait.
Patience is not being able to wait. Because you’re gonna wait, right? Patience is how you wait. And that you can control. Kinda.
And that you can practice trying to control.