June 07, 2010

Wanted: Road map from Fear to Freedom

I read this blog post today, on being fearless in youth and somehow losing that fearlessness as you mature and learn about being wounded and judged and it just resonated with me so loudly, it was as if somehow she knew just what I was feeling today.

I was the girl who went off on adventures, often dangerous adventures, all alone, all summer long. I was the girl who convinced three other girls in 5th grade to get on stage with me to sing/ lip-sync to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" even though I had not a lick of singing talent at the time. I was the girl who stood in front of my highschool classmates and gave speeches about social prejudices and who got into heated debates during Spanish class about gay rights. I moved across the country at 19, all alone, with maybe $400 in my pocket, to a big city I had never visited and didn't know anyone in. I proceeded to join a band, perform my poetry on stage, spilling my heart and anger out for anyone who would listen. In my twenties, I took week long camping trips alone, with my dog. I fell in love or lust with wild abandon, and fell into friendships with the same passion and devotion.

In the last ten years or so, something changed.....

As The Butterfly states so eloquently:

"Somewhere along the line, and I can’t pinpoint when, I lost my fearlessness. ... I started being afraid of everything, and not just fear for myself, but also for everyone around me. And the more I think about it, the more I think that my fear of physical danger grew out of my built-up fear of emotional danger.

... I spent a lot of my life putting myself out there emotionally. My physical adventurousness was nothing compared to my emotional adventurousness, but unlike the physical risks I took, my emotional risks usually didn’t work out very well. I was too open, and I got my heart stomped on. A lot. As a result, I stopped taking risks. I wrapped myself up around my heart and protected myself, and some part of me took a look at that and said, “Hey! If you can get your spirit knocked around so many times, it’s only a matter of time before you do something dumb and end up killing yourself.” I stopped taking risks, with my heart and with my person."

I can't pinpoint which exact heartbreak or loss or disappointment led me down this path, I think it was a very gradual process. I have always struggled with deep insecurities, and a deep sense of being different and not good enough. That was part of what made my emotional risks so "risky". I was putting myself out there, even though I often felt terrified inside. Well, and what better way to fill that need for affirmation?

Somehow, the risks became less attractive, the affirmation became more hollow, and I found myself feeling more fearful in places of emotional intimacy and depth. I slowly began to make my world smaller and safer. The less risks, the less relationships, the better. Today I often dream about just running away (with my husband and son of course) and starting from scratch and I can become anxious over simply returning a phone call or going to a party. Heck, half the reason I blog so infrequently these days is because I worry over what someone might judge me for or whether what I have to say is worth writing about.

And just as The Butterfly writes in her blog, I didn't just withdraw and become overly cautious emotionally, I became fearful and overly cautious about anything risky for myself, and for anyone I love. I came to hate the idea that my husband had a motorcycle, even though that was one of the things that attracted me to him to begin with. I have shown major resistance to the idea of my husband learning to kite surf, as I am sure he will get swept out to sea, or into the side of a cliff and die a horrible painful death. I have never cashed in the gift certificate that my husband gave me for tandem sky-diving, even though it used to be on my "life list". I have become hesitant lately even thinking about changing my hairstyle!

Today, I am longing for that fearless girl and woman I used to be. I find myself digging for remnants of her beneath the walls I have built to protect myself and what I hold dear. There is much more to lose now, and I feel more fragile underneath it all. It is not so easy to be fearless, not so easy to risk. I am less certain than ever that I have something worthwhile to offer and I have come through some pretty hard seasons in the last few years that have left their marks. Just as physical scars make the skin less pliable, the emotional scars I carry have left me more rigid, less flexible, less free.

And yet, I have so many reasons to be free, to be happy, to be full. Despite my insecurities, my anxiety, my difficulty connecting at times, I have an amazing husband and son and dear friends who are so worth taking risks for and worth putting my heart out there and when I do, they have shown me that they love me spots and all.

So...how do I find my way back to fearlessness? Or at least "less fearful" and more free? Does being a mother just naturally mean living with more fear?

(p.s. and for those of you thinking "Damn girl, get yourself some therapy"....I have, and I am.)


The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

Lovely post. I miss that woman too. Lots and lots and lots :(

The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

P.S. I think it makes perfect sense that you are afraid...perfect sense. And I can relate to how much more vulnerable motherhood can make you feel. I remeber just 1.5 years ago stopping in the middle of a jog and sobbing bcs I was so terrified of losing SparkleEyes. Nothing was going on--it's just that almost everyone other than C. who I had ever loved with as much passion and abandon as I love SparkleEyes with had left. It just seemed impossible that I wouldn't lose her too. And before I went on meds and started DNMS, I lived in a practical panic attack, afraid of anything hurting her. But I also know from my last 1.5 years of healing that motherhood does not mean that you must live with more fear. That's how I experienced it for a couple of years, but now I experience it as something that has allowed me more freedom, fierceness, courage, confidence, energy, and self than I have ever had before. I continue to believe that you will find freedom and healing beyond your deepest desires. Truly.

Denise said...

Maybe it would help to practice some structured adventure. Pick one thing a week or a month, small or big, that scares you and go for it. Change your hair, change your routine, sky dive, whatever.

I can relate to this in so many ways, I used to do much more in my younger years as well and now I live a very "safe" life. I went skydiving years ago and I'm not sure I could do it now, there is so much more to lose. Except that I remember how I felt afterwards. I was on a literal endorphin high for a week afterwards. Just remembering that feeling makes me want to do it again.

It makes me sad that you blog less for fear of what others will think. This is your blog and if you have anywhere you can express yourself, it should be here, in your space.

Thinking of you and hoping for more hope and less fear.