Fear

There are a lot of things that I don’t understand. If you’ve been reading anything I’ve written I suppose you’ve realized by now while I do indeed question everything, I really don’t have many answers. Today a memory came to me of a morning several years ago. I was attempting to back my car out of a driveway and I managed to get stuck in the deep snow at the curb. I remembered feeling almost giddy at being stuck in the snow. I was pleased because this was an opportunity to prove, if only to myself, that I could indeed handle my own problems.

Many times have these types of opportunities presented themselves since that day in the snow. I have since repaired actual vehicles that I then drove for miles without any of them ever once exploding into flames on the side of the road. I have stained and painted, torn down and put up walls in a house that I love and feel completely at home in. I’ve repaired appliances, installed light fixtures, dug and planted a nearly-cottage garden… While I will quickly tell you that these things could not have been done without the man whom I love supporting me, I hold fast to the statement that I did these things. All of them. Me. More than doing the actual things though, I have found my voice. I have said that I can do the things, that I want to do them, that I will do them. I have learned the limits in my ability by testing them, not by believing what someone else said that I could do.

It is a small wonder to me how I have become this person. I used to live a life in quiet fear, fear of getting in the way, fear of embarrassing, fear of doing anything that might end imperfectly. I suppose this fear did not materialize itself in my first marriage, though that is where it became all-encompassing, it likely began many years before though I can not pinpoint where or how. It seems there should be an event that flipped the switch, but I can look back to being twelve years old and having the fear even then. When I graduated high school I told my friends that I didn’t really know what I would go to school for and that I didn’t want to waste money. So I never went to college. This is no great regret in my life, but I see now that it was not uncertainty that caused me to skip college, but fear of stating out loud that I actually had wants of my own. I knew what I wanted to study, but fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of being bold and actually doing something scared me into doing nothing. What I regret is being afraid. I’m not going to go digging up the exact moment, but it’s there all the same.

I do know when the second switch flipped, the one that has set me right again. I see it clearly in my looking back. There was a day when I began to live this one true life like I meant it. And now I refuse to go back to being afraid, no one person will ever hold that power over me again. When someone else says the words that are screaming to get out of your own heart it can open your eyes to the fact that maybe? Just maybe the words you have to say are important. Once I had heard the exact words that I wanted to shout come from someone else’s mouth I realized that if someone else could say these words so could I. For a short while I wondered; How could this be? I always made a mess of things when I spoke and I always failed when I stood up for myself and I never chose the right way.  However, upon hearing I was immediately awakened to knowing that words hold power and I am free to wield that power.

That was a long time ago, nearly ten years. So I’ll admit to you all here that it took me all of those years to actually put the words down on paper, to let them flow out of my heart onto this platform and wait to be read and picked apart by each of my readers. It helps that not so many people read my words I think… I’ll further admit that I don’t speak without fear in all circles, there are still a handful of others who are able to control my speech. I’m not proud of that, but it should be noted nonetheless. No one gets to control my behavior anymore, I am my own. This discrepancy sometimes confuses me; how can I trust completely in my actions but not fully in what might come out of my mouth? In the shadowy understanding that I have of this I know that it is at least partly because of the power of the words.

While I may still keep my mouth shut from time to time it is more out of self-control than because I fear what someone might think. In those circles where I feel I need to be quiet I know that it is my choice, and it is not made out of fear. It is a choice made for protection. Either protection of the relationship or protection of my own heart. I don’t need to give up my power by speaking truth to those who will only try to hurt me with it, I can hold my tongue at these times and use the strength of my words when they will be useful if not always appreciated. I think that in so doing I am protecting the child inside of me and I believe I am still being true to myself.

I don’t just want to live unafraid though, I want to live in a way that allows others to see the strength they need in themselves. Because we all have it inside of us. Several years ago I would not have believed that statement, it always amazes me how much a person’s life can be changed. The passing of time and the seemingly small decisions we make each day really do build upon each other to become our one life. I’ve decided to not let those decisions be wasted or useless. I’ve chosen to see each moment as setting me straighter on my course. When I look back I see that my steps have often wandered far off of the path that is my own. If I had the map going in how much differently life would have felt.

I trust that the wandering, while not on the map, was valuable nonetheless. The steps taken out into the wildness of the world yielded much of who I am today and the girl I would have been had I never been lost, might not be someone of much use to anyone. Perhaps that’s why we can’t see far beyond the next step? I’d venture that even small decisions can alter a persons walk and that we should listen first to our own hearts and minds before we let the world get their words in. I know that everything I have gone through has built me. I know that every seemingly mis-taken step has created this woman I am today and I know that the fear was a part of that.

I’m not saying that I’m grateful for the fear or where it took me. I was in a lonely, fear-filled place for a lot of years. I am thankful for the lessons I learned in those places though, I know now that the paved road is not for me and that following my own voice will, ultimately lead me in the right direction. Because of the once-present fear, I am able to speak up for the ones who can not. I’m doing more of that now. I’m also working on my listening, trying to hear where someones heart cry is coming from instead of hearing just their words. This is opening my eyes to new ways of living, and perhaps a new direction for my own path.

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