Day 10 – When Fear Takes Hold

This morning my son said, “okay mom, I’m going to go by myself and be brave, because like you told me I could be brave.” This made me happy, because even though what he was doing was going in the dark room and turning the light on himself, he’s 3, and he really was scared. It made me happy that he is listening when I tell him he will be okay and he can be brave even though he’s scared. This is partly because I don’t ever remember actually being brave, just wanting to be. Because of that the post today explains how I spent the majority of my youth, and is an indicator of why I truly hope to be able to encourage strength and courage into Jack, especially in ordinary situations. The post is long, and I apologize, because it’s the majority of the chapter from the book.

I remember being a fearful child. I never, and I mean NEVER got into trouble at school, or anywhere else for that matter. I was always shy. I was scared to talk to people, even to make new friends. I was terribly scared of adults, because I thought they knew so much more about life than me. I assumed they’d be far too busy with important things to do than to actually care what I had to say or want to play with me. All of this is ironic, because the things I remember most happily in my childhood had to do with family vacations, games, and movie nights.

Nonetheless, I always felt less-than for some reason. The only times I remember ever not being afraid were those when I was singing, dancing, or writing. I did love to perform and make at least my parents watch. But singing and dancing were some of the only occasions I was willing to let others watch me, as well. And as you can imagine, I’m sure that all of the adults I performed for absolutely loved my renditions of “The Greatest Love of All” and “(Stop!) In the Name of Love.” At least I had good taste in music.

One of the biggest things that scared me as a child was the thought of eternity. I didn’t understand it. At 8, I remember something coming on TV that had this shot of the universe where the show or commercial talked about eternity, and I simply burst into tears in the middle of the den where we were all watching TV. I didn’t understand how anything could last forever or how if something did last forever there was really no beginning. It was something that truly made my brain hurt, and I had no clue how to handle it.

I remember my parents telling me it would be okay. They told me God loved me and because He did everything would be fine. I didn’t have to worry. But I don’t remember ever reconciling any of those feelings. That fear stayed with me. My desire to hang onto my family and my friends in this form was far too strong to allow any willingness to let go. I liked being alive. I knew how to understand a world with limits. It was a world without limits that baffled my mind, and created an uneasiness I couldn’t let go of.

About 3 years later, the most devastating event in my life to that point occurred. One of my family members was murdered. I remember during the period around this time, maybe the week or two before finding out, I could just feel a change in the air. I remember asking my mother if anyone in our family had ever been kidnapped or killed prior to my knowing anything was going on.

She told me no and asked what my brother had been telling me. He was 18 at the time, and I suppose had been informed that my uncle had been reported missing. I guess they decided it was time to tell me, and so they did. I remember seeing the news one evening. On it they showed that a set of remains, mostly bones, had been discovered in the woods a few towns away. At the end of the segment they showed a picture of my uncle and noted that he was still missing. I remember looking at my mother in her chair; we were the only two in the room. She started to cry.

To that point, I couldn’t ever recall seeing her do that. I knew something bad was going on. It didn’t take long for them to confirm the body was his. I remember fear immediately enveloping all of the areas it hadn’t previously.

As with any time there is a death, the fragility of life made its presence well known in my head. However, when the event that takes place is something as careless, as thoughtless, as disgusting, as completely unnecessary as these senseless acts are, the knowledge that the end of our journey may be up to someone else is the most unsettling part.

It does not matter what I do, if someone stands in front of me with a gun, he has a very easy means to stop my heart from beating. If someone is set on stopping me today, in the end, he has the capability to do so. And each person has the means to do so simply by virtue of being here. Every single one of us here has the capacity to do something amazing and something unspeakable. We all live in this paradox of extremes.

I didn’t know how to deal with that, so instead of talking to someone about it or finding some way to get help which can be difficult at 11, I chose to close off. I never went anywhere, or very rarely did. I had very few friends, although part of that can be blamed on the treacherousness that is middle school. I lost a way of understanding how a God that I was told loved me, therefore he’d protect me, wouldn’t protect my family. It seemed cruel. I was scared of life, mostly because I was scared of death. And I was scared of the power that other people had in my life.

When we stand on the edge of that platform looking through that barely veiled line that distinguishes between life and death, the presence of the ultimate extremes – love and fear – reveal themselves. They call out loudly and pull at us by what seems like a tangible force. And the tool that becomes the deciding factor on which side we’re really going to lean toward is self-worth. As I said before, even as a child, I always leaned toward the side of fear.

I don’t know what happened that I stopped believing I could be anything. I don’t know why I stopped believing I was worthy. Maybe it really did have something to do with my inability to comprehend the universe or the God I was praying to. But as I stood there to choose, I chose fear. And from that point forward, fear would lead my life.

Ironically, a good portion of what happens to us is likely due to our self-fulfilling prophecy trait. I wanted to feel bad, and in turn I did. Some of my friends were depressed, and I wanted to be too, so I chose it. I spent a lot of time feeling bad about feeling bad, which just made me feel worse. It’s a spiraling effect. Because, if I know that feeling bad is unnecessary, if I were really a good person, if I were really worthy of anything, then I’d go ahead and do something to change it, right? I was afraid, and I used it perfectly. It manifested itself through everything. I never had boyfriends. I wasn’t a good friend. I stopped trying in school, although I was competitive enough to make sure I did better than my siblings.

Most of the time, I just felt sad because my life wasn’t different. I never considered doing anything to change it. I sat happily in my misery, and never pursued anything that was a stretch. Who wants that disappointment? And I stayed just as I was the day before every single day. I didn’t get into trouble, but I didn’t do much of anything worth doing either. I simply was. And that was all.

About laurenc129

I'm a mom. Sometimes my hands turn orange. Other times I write. On twitter: @laurenc129

Posted on May 10, 2012, in 31 days of May, babies and bugs, Music, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I can SO relate to your fear of eternity !! I’ve loved God for a really long time but it took me a long time to be honest about this fear (and many others, for that matter). Since we are such a beginning and ending kind of world, eternity just overcooked my brain as well. It’s ok! 🙂 God knows it’s a subject that our minds weren’t even made to fully comprehend on this earth. I love how He speaks into that when He continues to say “Don’t be afraid! … I’ll be with you.” I still don’t fully “grasp” eternity but I have such peace in my heart now knowing God will walk me through it. Ahhh… we’re learning together ! Thanks for your honesty and putting into words what we all are thinking at times ! Love that about your writing !

    • I think the reassuring parts get looked over a lot in some cases, but I think it’s so important to remember and to remind ourselves not to be afraid. I’m glad you’ve found peace with it. I get a little more peaceful each day (usually) and it’s been such an amazing experience. Thank so much for stopping by and sharing 🙂

  2. Wow… I’m truly sorry to hear about your uncle… how awful… I can’t imagine what that must have been like… sorry…

    i was very fearful growing up too; I was fearful of home and school because I was bullied at both. I think, personally, I felt worthless until almost my mid twenties and I’m very self-deprecating, even now. I know what I’m good at and I’m confident at what I do, but I have no concept of self worth or self esteem. It’s an alien concept to me. I don’t think it’s my place to determine my worth – but then, I don’t feel anyone should determine my worth LOL

    I sometimes still find it hard to give and take praise – I’m worried that I’ll sound insincere when giving praise, but I’m almost over that. If I give praise, then it’s because I mean it. I never give praise for the sake of it. Sometimes that makes me seem cold-hearted but it’s honestly not meant to be.

    I have very little fear now. I’ve gone through spells of fearing death but I tend to think of it as another adventure now.

    I guess my biggest fear right now is of losing my son, for whatever reason. As you’re probably aware (because you read my blog) I’m going through a divorce and I’ve just agreed (today) to potentially stay living under the same roof as my soon-to-be ex and support the entire family for another year, just because I know she’d go to Florida with my son if I didn’t. She wasn’t holding me to ransom… she’s not a bad hearted person… but we both know she doesn’t have the means to survive with two sons on her own and she’d have to relocate to be nearer to family.

    In essence, i’ve just agreed to put my life on hold for another year… but I do it for him. Hopefully I’ve got many more years to give, and if it comes to it, I’ll give more gladly.

    …and now I’m rambling LOL Time for bed…

    • I think self-worth is something that comes from within, and is inherent upon everyone simply by virtue of being born. We are all worthy. Many of us have simply had lives that for whatever reason led us to believe others who didn’t treat us with worth. I have a whole lot of feelings on worth (that’s why I wrote a book about it) and I really do believe that understanding it is the key to just about everything, because it is at the core of how we feel about ourselves on the deepest level.

      One of my struggles right now with Jack is that I don’t want to enter into any kind of relationship until I get to a point where Jack and I can survive on our own, and it is my goal to ensure that even once that happens, that it is maintained even if I find someone else. What you are going through is difficult, and once children are involved it becomes very hard to separate things in an easy manner. I know lots of people in similar situations, and some people just opt to stay together because they can’t afford to separate. Doesn’t end up helping anyone.

      Since I’m beginning to ramble, I’ll stop there as well! Thanks for reading and for sharing so openly. And for trying to do what’s best for your family. There are many people who don’t make that choice. I’ve met them! 🙂

      • Well, you know, I thought about it long and hard. I would love to move out. I told my wife this… and frankly, I’m sure she wants to move on with her life too. But the fact of the matter is that it would make things very difficult if I did; we’re still going to separate eventually, because there’s no point in staying together for James’s sake. I think that would be destructive to everyone.

        I didn’t think you were rambling LOL And I think you’ve got the right idea by wanting to be self-sufficient and independent. That way, you’re not tied to anyone and no one can use that against you – good for you 🙂

  3. Never having to go through a trauma like you but never the less Identifying with your feeling of the lack of self worth…I mean I knew my mother and siblings loved me and I was taught that God loved me..but there was that same gnawing feeling that for some reason I wasn’t as important as other kids…(and then into adult years even). But I had God holding on to me and whenever I would let him…realized that I was loveable and things would be okay. I would slip in and out of those extreme opposite feelings for many years…but now see clearly that I am an okay person and accept that from others that tell me so. My hope is that you realize this by now also……if not I pray that you will soon….Diane

    • I do realize that now, but I accept prayers in any case! 🙂 It’s interesting how many people do feel this way. Who go through life with those opposing feelings. And sometimes I wish I could just make people see that they are okay and they are worthy, and loveable, and can do what they long to do. Which we’ve already talked about some. But I’m glad that you realize it now, as you are certainly and okay person, and more. Thanks for stopping by and being so thoughtful! 🙂

  1. Pingback: Part 2 of forgiveness continued from yesterday « betweenfearandlove

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