I needed, or wanted, or.. wanted and needed to write today, either, and, or I’m here, and lucky you!
I’ve been working through a lot of fear recently.
Fear that leaving my recent “occupation” to create my dream online and in the waking realm will be foolish. That I won’t be valuable outside of, well, the bedroom.
Fear that financially I should wait, or save up, or just suck it up (and ok, not entirely literally there) and sloooowly take one step at a time to get my new plan in motion.
Fear that if I don’t take steps on it now, it will fade away and be too late.
Fear that continuing down that other path would lead me to hate the world, or die of it, or both.
Fear that others will think this a silly idea of mine and won’t support it. (Though so far I’ve met amazing support)
Fear that I’m not taking care of others by taking care of myself.
I’ve been meditating, walking, talking (as my therapist can attest to, and my dear S.O.), thinking, pondering, letting go, waking up, moving on, and finally.. meeting myself in the place where I am truly terrified.
There is a crossroads within, in which several of me from the past are gathered, and they are afraid.
They are the me of my younger years, about 5-8 I’d say.
Afraid of speaking up, of making others uncomfortable with my truths.
Afraid of asking for more, never sure where food will come from or if the phone bill will be paid without my suffering.
Afraid because I feel unworthy.
Afraid that there may not even be a car, or a tent, to sleep in tomorrow.
Afraid that my stepfather will come back in our life, that she won’t be strong enough to say no.
Though I’ve touched on it in other posts, I suppose the time has come within me, to say more.
When I was just a little girl (and actually I hear the song Que Sera start up in my head here.. oy), about 4 years old, and my mother married my stepfather, my life as a happy, cheery, upbeat child ended. Not only was he violent, and verbally abusive with a wicked alcohol problem, but somehow he found his way to know folks involved in child pornography and so this way, did I.
These are details I can’t go into, and perhaps I wouldn’t if I could, maybe, simply because I don’t recall much. I simply recall long car trips with him feeling so lost, so sad, wishing I could disappear or die. He’d tell my mom we were going to Disneyland, but we never made it that far.
I remember old warehouses, an abandoned artichoke factory I believe, dirty mattresses and cameras. And that, is about it.
My behavior changed, of course. I no longer loved to run around naked as a jay bird, happy with the sun on my skin. I hated to see photos of myself, particularly partially undressed (as most babies and toddlers are in pictures now and then), even a bathing suit was too much skin, even years later.. I destroyed every picture I could find like that. I stopped singing. I felt completely alone even surrounded by others.
During this time my mother was in a deep depression and my family was afraid (there’s that fear again) of speaking up and saying something that would upset her. She didn’t always find herself able to work, and so the income of my stepfather was all there was for a while, and some of that came from what I did I know.
But in this lack I was afraid.
Afraid of eating too much, of not being able to afford more, of not being worthy of more.
Afraid of only being worth someone elses pleasure, and not my own.
Afraid of his temper. (You couldn’t even wake him up.. my mother would prod him awake with a broom handle, they didn’t even sleep in the same bed)
Afraid of speaking up and making my family uncomfortable, or sad.
When I was 7 I started taking food from other kids lunch bags at school, my mother was baffled because she packed me a full lunch, but I was always hungry for more.
Eventually I went to see my own therapist, as I’d started to tell my mother I wished I could die.
After she finally left him around 8 years old, we were homeless for about a year. Occasionally we’d stay at a friends for a week or a month or so, but usually there were limits on how long we could stay. We often stayed at motels down by the beach, due to a voucher program at the time; funny how staying in one of the most beautiful places in the world could really be so dark and frightening.
My 9th birthday we were “camping”, because some friends had a tent and sleeping bags we could borrow. My friends didn’t know those particular details, but they showed up and we had a camping party.
I remember after my mother went to the food bank around this time, finding some exceptionally nice treat in the bag, and feeling like I had to eat it slowly, carefully, because I might not get it again, ever.
So much of this was created by my mothers own fears. Of being alone, of not being worthy, of not being good enough that someone like my stepfather, so bruised and battered, would change, or heal for her, of not being enough, of being successful on her own, of being deemed an unfit mother (I didn’t often go to the doctor, and was treated for many things at home).
And here I am, at 35, finding that my fear now? Is centered there.
Afraid that without giving my body away, I won’t be liked.
Afraid that I won’t be worthy of another income, of making it on my own, with my own business.
Afraid that asking for more, more money, more health, more food, more support, more guidance; is asking too much, and that I’m … selfish, and bad for even thinking of it.
Afraid to share my story, my stories, be they pleasant or otherwise, for fear of not saying it perfectly the way they want to hear it.
Afraid to share my dreams, should they be too grand, too bright, too filled with joy and life.
Afraid to stand on my own and be capable, powerful, loved. That the only way to survive is by the grace and gifts of others, not my own.
Yet here we sit, at this crossroads, my younger selves and I. I’m ready to move on. I’m ready to create a new world. After all, there is a new way to see this world and I can see it, live it, and breathe it; if only I can release the fear that doesn’t just slow me down, it holds me back, it drags me down under the water, so fast, and so fierce, so that I’m drowning with no way up.
I’ve been taking baby steps forward, beyond the fear. Though I feel it still, sometimes overwhelmingly so. I’ve run from it my whole life, hidden from it, treated it like the black sheep in the room and done whatever I had to do to keep my head above water, so that I didn’t have to face it.
So I sit with it, with them, and I allow that fear, their fears, to be acknowledged, to be loved, to be acceptable and worthy. There is nothing more I can do for them, but offer them all I am now, the knowledge, the love, the hope I have here, in this moment, that everything will be ok. That they can walk away from the fear and in to light.
And I leave with that, and lead with this, one of my favorite writings of all time:
Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar or swinging along or, for a few moments in my life, I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars. Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar- of-the-moment. It carries me along a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers.
But once in a while, as I’m merrily (or not so merrily) swinging along, I look ahead of me into the distance, and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging toward me. It’s empty, and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this new trapeze bar has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart- of-hearts, I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present, well-know bar to move to the new one.
Each time it happens to me, I hope (no, I pray) that I won’t have to grab the new one. But in my knowing place, I know that I must totally release my grasp on my old bar, and for some moment in time, I must hurtle across space before I can grab onto the new bar. Each time I am filled with terror. It doesn’t matter that in all my previous hurtles across the void of unknowing, I have always made it. Each time I am afraid I will miss, that I will be crushed on unseen rocks in the bottomless chasm between the bars.
But I do it anyway.
Perhaps this is the essence of what the mystics call the faith experience. No guarantee, no net, no insurance policy, but you do it anyway because somehow, to keep hanging onto that old bar is no longer on the list of alternatives. And so for an eternity that can last a microsecond or a thousand lifetimes, I soar across the dark void of “the past is gone, the future is not yet here.”
Its called transition. I have come to believe that it is the only place that real change occurs. I mean real change, not the pseudo-change that only lasts until the next time my old buttons get punched.
I have noticed that, in our culture, this transition zone is looked upon as “nothing”, a no-place between places. Sure the old trapeze-bar was real, and that new coming towards me, I hope, that’s real, too.
But the void in between? That’s just a scary, confusing, disorienting “nowhere” that must be gotten through as fast and as unconsciously as possible.
What a waste! I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are illusions we dream up to avoid the void, where the real change, the real growth occurs for us. Whether or not my hunch is true, it remains that the transition zones in our lives are incredibly rich places. They should be honored, even savored. Yes, with all the pain and fear and feelings of being out-of-control that can (but necessarily) accompany transitions, they are still the most alive, most growth-filled, passionate, expansive moments in our lives.
And so, transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to “hang out” in the transition between the trapeze bars. Transforming our need to grab that new bar, any bar, is allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can be enlightening, in the true sense of the word.
Hurtling through the void, we just may learn how to fly.