The fear driven life (Fear of Transformation)

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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.

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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

Dancing with the Ghosts

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I have been so angry, for so long, at so many people – including myself.

It wasn’t something that you’d see from just looking at me, it was something that was simmering, submerged deep within.

I remember when I was 12, and in Childrens Hospital for a while, I told them how angry I felt. They suggested I take it out on one of those large, exercise balls (you know the kind people can sit on), hit it and not hurt it.. and I was getting more and more frustrated with them as we discussed this, because taking out this rage, this anger, on a bouncy ball.. was not going to be enough.

I wanted to break something, I wanted to take a glass and throw it, watch it shatter in to a million tiny pieces – something you couldn’t fix. I wanted to do this over and over.

They looked at me, alarmed, as though somehow they saw someone much larger, much .. more, than a 12 year old girl, in front of them. I don’t think that I ever expressed the depth of my anger again to someone, anyone, for over 20 years. Somehow it was easier to add it all to the growing rock of anger held deep within.

And up until recently, that’s what I did. Even when my therapist/guide suggested we have a special session to address the anger, I held back.

My dreams were even, clearly, showing me a need to work on it, to let it go.
I’d be traveling somewhere, ready to go, going to move on, when someone or even something, would stop me and tell me that I needed to let go of the anger before I could go to the next place in my journey.
Of course, I’d feel a bit frustrated at that (in my dreams and in waking life), but… I got the messages.

Though I needed to let go of the anger, it felt as though it had taken on an almost super nova capability. And that if I dared to open the door to it, in any way, it would consume me and everyone around me.

As much as I had worked past a lot of anger, a lot of pain, sorrow, hate, hurt and abandonment – I could still feel this amazing ball of terrible energy within.

 

Pissed off at a family that stood by and did nothing, at a mom that was involved more than I’d like to admit, at a father that dissapeared, at all of the people that do nothing… at everyone and everything that wasn’t as my little girl self felt it should be..

I knew that all of these people were simply coming from a place of their own pain, their own fears, their own angers and hurts, but it didn’t matter – they didn’t take care of me, when I needed them most. When they knew I needed them.

I began reading Wishes Fulfilled by Wayne Dyer, and talks about how we hold on to energy (anger, joy, all of it) for so long and that after a while, who we were angry at (or whatever) is gone, even if it was at our self.
That every cell in the body has actually changed and been replaced.

I was feeling this resonate at some level deep within. In a way, it brought so many things together, so many thoughts and memories, so many emotions (energy).

And then something happened this past weekend.

I went in for my, now, regular acupuncture visit and I talked about how my legs were still experiencing so much discomfort and it started in my hips and lower back – it has been a sensation as though my legs are stuck in ice. And it had been getting worse. So he decided to work on my spine this time. My Qi has been out of sync for some time and I felt it.

I felt it there in my lower back. It wasn’t some injury done recently, or sitting poorly in my chair, or not doing enough Yoga… (all of which have some truth though)

I felt my anger, I found where it had been resting. Where it had been hiding, growing, consuming me from inside out.

Then it all came together. And apart.

I discovered I’ve been angry at ghosts. My own and others. That I had held on to them, and they to me. That I’ve been dancing with these ghosts of anger for most of my life, caught up in some sorrow filled angry melody.

I found that I was ready to let them go. Dancing with them as I have, has had it’s own beauty, but that I am ready to dance with the living spirits now.

Now, suddenly, when I try to touch on those ghosts of anger again – they have been my dancing partners for over 30 years after all, I don’t feel them as I once did. I feel them as they are, Ghosts. Wisps floating in the wind. I can’t even manage to conjure them up as I once could, as I once did, even mere days before.

And I can finally see my anger inside (I can SEE it), as a .. piece of darkness, like a lump of coal in my stomach and back. I see it dissolving, slowly, resisting even at times, but it is growing smaller and smaller.

I told my therapist I was afraid of this loss, yet also afraid of calling them back.

I have been dancing with these ghosts for so long, now I wonder if I’m dancing alone. Or who’s dancing with me at all?

Maybe that’s ok though. Maybe.. in dancing alone, I will discover my own dance, a dance of joy, of love, and hope. I know the ghosts are always waiting, but I’ve been waiting too.

The Ghosts we Leave Behind

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Today as I was walking home from the grocery store, I saw down the sidewalk a woman standing next to a car with a dog on a leash. The dog was holding himself as far away from the car as possible, pulling at the leash – for what reasons I do not know.

I crossed the street and passed the car, looking over briefly, wondering if they were still standing there, and who had won the apparent battle.

They had disappeared, whether they made it in to the car (I couldn’t see) or headed in to the house, perhaps they went around the corner, walking faster than I fathomed they would, I don’t know where they went to.

But their departure from my own world; swift and sudden, I heard no noise of doors opening or shoes walking over leaves, left me feeling as though they’d been nothing but ghosts left behind, my vision of them just a false memory. There was a sense of a mirage.

I realized that so often that’s all we are, that’s all we offer.

That for some brief moment we make an impression, somehow, someway, and then we move on – and we leave behind the ghost of who we were at that moment. For no matter how hard we try, or how long we yearn for it at times, we can and will never go back to that moment EXACTLY as we were at that moment.

We are changed just by taking a single step, by breathing in and out another breath, by the thought we have one moment to the next.

And I wonder at all the Ghosts I’ve left behind. The smiles I gave, the tears I shared, the snarky comments I made, the documents I wrote up, the dogs I walked, the stories I told.

Of all the moments I’ve wished I could go back to. Places I called home, that I dreamed of returning to one day. People I knew, memories we created, shared. Times I’ve wished I could relive, if ever so briefly, touch on that ghost of a moment again.

I think of how my family and friends talk of my hometown, of other towns, in such wistful voices – “oh, but that was back then, it used to be so wonderful”. How they remember a Ghost Town. A place that is ever-changing and will never be exactly as it was then, on that day when they were 17 and the sun was out and the world seemed so perfect (although I wonder at our memories sometimes, selective to put it mildly).

Though I miss so many things in the past, places I’ve lived, people & animals I’ve loved, paths I’ve walked, snow that falls, and rain that sings me to sleep. They are all just ghosts, memories I have of moments that touched me, that changed me. And though I may long to go back, somehow, magically to just that point in time, what I would go back to would be as it is now – not as I remember it.

Ghosts are not just spirits left behind once the body dies, Ghosts are bits of our souls, bits of the energy of the Divine universe, that hang forever in a sort of limbo. Like a spider web hanging in the corner of our lives, catching moments forever, trapping them as they are then, not as they will be.

I believe it’s so important to appreciate the moment as it is, because while we may look back at the Ghosts in our past, they will forever be just that, in our past. And we, as we are now, are moving from this moment on. Living with those Ghosts can seem appealing, we can forget that we are capable of creating an even better moment, now.

I’ve had people tell me they miss the person I was, and there are others, that they love who I’ve become even more than who I was.

Yet, whatever, whomever, they recall is really just a Ghost, I’ve left behind.

Veronica Yem

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