The fear driven life (Fear of Transformation)

transformation-butterfly

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.

fear

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.

eagle

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.

Butterfly-Released

And then?

And then what? Stopping the Worry Demon

Lately I’ve had a few people ask me how I stopped the “What if” demon. She’s been in my family for generations and had a rather cozy spot in my life for so long, along with her brethren of friends.

Now I’ve read more positive thinking & self help books, articles, on line email threads, than I could count on all of my fingers and toes times.. 10. (Maybe more) And I’m not bashing them, they’ve all offered me something, in some way. Some, of course, far more so than others (“Feel the fear and do it anyway” – that title alone got me from 16-30).

However what has actually “cured” me, and saved the villagers of the small town living below the snowball that becomes an avalanche when I worry and get lost with the “what if” demon is this..

I simply take the fear and follow it through, quickly, simply, but honestly.

Example:

I’m out wearing a dark colored shirt, and I realize it’s covered in cat fur (white cat fur). I wonder what people think of me, what if they see it? what if they judge me for it? what if they don’t like me because I’m so untidy? What if I were out with a friend, how would they feel being seen with me? And … it begins.

So I take it from there. And then what?

They see it. And then what?

They judge it. And then what?

They care, or they don’t. And then what?

Do I care what they think? Possibly. And then what?

Well, why do I care? Will my friend be embarrassed? And then what?

Perhaps they won’t want to go out with me. And then what?

I’ll go out alone in the future. And then what?

I won’t mind who sees the fur, it’s my cat, I love her, I’m not harming anyone with a few cat hairs. And then what?

Ok, they judge me and give me a snide look or turn away. And then what?

I continue on my day, never to run in to this complete stranger again. And then what?

Now, this is how it goes with 90% of the worries I have, and 95% of the worries I hear from other people – so concerned with the approval of others, and their presentation to people they will never meet again that they get caught up in the what if game.

Even if it’s what if with people they know, co-workers, spouses, friends, lovers, parents..

So I’ll add in the positive way this event actually happened today, before going on.

Now..

I run in to someone I know, the cashier at the grocery store. And then what?

We actually get in to a wonderful conversation about our cats, I find out he’s a cat person and is very concerned with how my cats vet visit went. And then what?

I actually fell like I connected with someone, they cared, and I cared, and we were better for it.

 

Ok, so lets take it even further into the demon realm, and say it is someone I know. And then what?

They judge me, dislike me for being so unkempt and unpolished. And then what?

I don’t talk to them again, they won’t return my calls. And then what?

Lets be honest, anyone that doesn’t get me and my love of my cats, isn’t someone I really want to be friends or close acquaintances with – they can’t understand me or appreciate me. So I decide to move on. And then what?

Well… and then I make friends that do get me, that love cats, and dogs, that don’t mind a few cat hairs on their clothes and we have great, relaxing times together. And then what?

Perhaps it doesn’t go so well. Now this is where the demon really sinks her teeth in.

Perhaps I can’t find any new friends, perhaps they all seem to hate animals or my cat hair shirt. And then what?

 

Do I die? Does anyone die? Is my cat hurt in any way? Is this event so catastrophic that life itself ceases to exist because of this event?

 

No? Well then.. I move on, I let go, and the crazy, neurotic snowball that was building steam has suddenly disappeared. Poof!

There is no fuel for the fire.

My best friend hasn’t called me back, my husband hasn’t texted me, my boss didn’t smile at me as they normally do each day. And then what?

Do I die? Does anyone die? Is someone going to end up in the hospital because of this moment? (perhaps if I don’t stop the snowball, yes.. mental hospitals count) No?

Well then, move on.

Life is beautiful, and this particular turn of ours, on this merry go round of nuttiness – this act we play out on the stage that is called life. It’s short in the scheme of things.

Too short to be caught up in worry, in fear, in letting snowballs bury the poor villagers of the cute mountain town below.

So there’s my secret. Something I haven’t found in any book so far.

And then what? What then? Can I live with what happens next? Literally.. Yes? Good. Let’s move on.

Saying what we Need to Say

Sometimes what we want to say, isn’t what we need to say. And often what we Need to say, we don’t.

Having been told/shown/taught most of my life, whether directly or indirectly, that speaking up is not something we should do; learning to speak up, to say what I need to say, or even want to say – has been a tremendous, continuous, lesson.

I’m sure my increasing difficulties with my thyroid and swallowing are related to 30-some years repressing the words.

And recently between friends, family, online or no, therapists, spouses and the synchronicity of the universe I have found that saying what we, what I, need to say is very important.

However! I have learned that there is a monumental, HUGE, difference between what I want to say and what I need to say – and that often times I let myself get caught up in between the two.

I want to tell you that you can be an insufferable ass. I need to tell you that I want to be treated better, or to be left alone.

I want to tell you that if you hit your kid again, or kick your dog one more time, so help me God I will come after you myself. I need to tell you that I understand your pain, but that you’re only causing it in another, amplifying it – that you are capable and worthy of so much more.

I want to tell you that all of those years of verbal arguments and abuse have left me feeling dead inside when I see you, or speak to you. I need to tell you that I love myself more than you now, and I’m moving on.

I want to tell you that your political leanings are misguided, short-sighted and narrow-minded. I need to tell you why I believe the way I do, that my view is different and that’s.. Ok.

I want to say that life is beautiful, full of hope, sunshine, daisies, warm puppy kisses and gentle laughter. I need to say that life is all of that, and sorrow, tears, anger, pain, depression, loneliness, and most of all Love.

But often what I need to say will lead to things I have suffered my whole life to avoid. It will leave others feeling the need to cry, yell, run away, hide..

I want to say something that will uplift, and bring hope. But what I need to say may be the dark night before the sunrise, and not the sunrise itself.

Sometimes what we need to say, what is festering beneath the surface of our lips, hiding behind the shadows of our souls, is not pretty, or friendly, it doesn’t feel loving or gracious. It is the truth of who we are, of what we do, the lives we lived, the dreams we’ve had, the memories we’ve never shared, the hopes that linger.

So how do we speak up? How do we communicate to others what we are, literally, dying to say?   Because I believe that what we hold in, what we hold on to and repress, kills us. Oh it may not end in death tonight, or tomorrow, or in a decade, but it may very slowly show up to stay. From the cancer that eats us from within to the sense of a life never lived, there is a death that occurs as we hide the words within.

Perhaps for some it will come as a Blog post. Or a graveside confession of years past. Maybe it will come in a therapy appointment, or a courtroom confession. You can try a letter, that you write but never send (or maybe you’re brave enough to send it!), and burn over a candle, or a bonfire.

Maybe you will find it in you to share it with others, living or otherwise, human or otherwise…

I hope that whatever I need to say, I say as I want to say – clear, honest, but loving and true. It is far too easy to say what I want to say, and not only address the wounds but tear them open or cause new ones.

I need to say how deeply I was hurt by your choices Mother, but that you are perfect, and that I’m grateful to be your daughter, without you I wouldn’t be here. I need to say I love you, but I’m not in love with you. I need to say I miss you, every day, and though I may not think of you every moment that passes, you are forever a part of me. I need to say that though you hate yourself, I’m thankful for you, for what you see as pain caused to me, to others, what you see as reasons to hate yourself, are what led me to find my own way out, to grow in to someone stronger, yet softer, than you. I need to tell you your driving skills are horrible, but I understand you hate driving.

I need to say how firmly I believe in God, the Divine, the all-encompassing light of the universe and all that is – I also believe in Buddha, Krishna, Allah, Diana, Jesus Christ, Hashem, Mother Theresa, Fairies, Ghosts and things that go bump in the night. All as expressions of the One, Spirit.

There are so many moments in life when what we need to say, when we need to speak up, never a sound, nor a word, is uttered.

Say what you need to say. And know you are never alone, in any of it, happy or sad, seemingly good or bad, dark or light – you are never alone – and what you need to Say, someone needs to hear you say it.

Firing my Demons

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When I was a young girl I found myself in the company of many demons, their teeth were sharp, their words daggers to my heart. They filled my head with fears over what ifs, what if this happens, what if they hear what I’m thinking, what if they know what I can do, what if they don’t like me as I am, what if.. an endless supply of fear.

They did such a fantastic job, at some point, I hired them to be my gatekeepers. Not only would they continue to keep the me from the world, they could now keep the world from me – I let them rage at others, I let them build a wall, a gate, even a moat to keep us all apart.

Eventually though, as must happen to all phases, to all parts of life, the walls began to crumble, the water dried up, and the gate is rusting.. my dreams and my cats became my sunlight, my view of green trees and verdant fields of lush green grass and clean, flowing rivers. And I realized I didn’t much like my employees, these demons of mine.

So I’ve begun to let them go.

Unfortunately over the years I brought on many demons, and so they’ve collected up a bit, they cover many shifts and some come and go as the seasons change, so, I know I’ve got a bit of a process going forth. I tried communicating the changes to the first demons, hoping they would spread the news, but seeing as this is a demon communication network, the word hasn’t gotten around and when it has, it has gotten jumbled a bit.

So I will continue to be honest, and clear, and firm. And I will let them go, one by one.

The gate, the walls, the moat, will all dissapear on their own with no one to guard them – though perhaps I will decide to tear it all down, there is a natural course of things that will take care of them as well.

We’ve had some crazy adventures, and some interesting stories to tell, these demons & I, but I’m ready to find some new stories, and experience some new adventures – to hear some new voices in this world of mine.

Veronica Yem

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