Toxic Fear- 1, Me – 0 (But Not For Long)
Fear is a funny thing. You can have the kind of fear when you are alone in bed at night and are awakened by a strange sound. You can feel fear when you’re at work and your boss says “I need to see you in my office.” You can fear going to the doctor or the dentist.
And then there is the kind of fear that feels as if it’s coming from your bones it’s so deep. It shakes you to the core and messes with your head. You can’t think straight and all you want to do is hide in the corner and make everything and everyone go away.
That is the kind of fear I’ve been wrestling with. I have often been visited by this emotion during some very dark times in my life and in my earlier years it was my constant companion.
It only comes to me in the present when a big change is happening in my life.
The most recent big change happened the moment I signed on with a marketing firm to do work on my website and to help me promote my business.
This is a huge step for me. Signing a contract with a commitment this big feels that it should be happening to someone else – not me. I feel sometimes that I am too small, too undeserving for all of this attention. What I say means nothing, that inner gremlin tells me. And yet, signing on to this commitment is a refusal to believe all of that. The action says I am worth it, what I have to say may be no better or worse than what someone else says but I still have a voice.
Cowering under the blankets and alone, I believe in myself. When the light shines on me, I am weaker and too often have surrendered myself to the opinions of others. Many times, I have been treated like a doormat rather than stand up for myself. So to shake that blanket off, stand up and face life is really big thing to do.
It was the same fear that befell me when I decided to attend ACOA because life as I had lived it up to then wasn’t working for me; it was the same fear when I decided to invest in a new career; it was the same fear when I had to begin that career all over again in the Midwest.
And it has visited me once again with this latest venture.
It’s not that I do not trust this marketing firm; in fact, I believe in them fully. Rather it is the meaning behind the choice. By signing this contract with them, I am standing up for myself. I believe in this firm and am delighted that they seem to have good grasp not just of Internet workings but also how a public relations firm works – which is rare in this climate where it seems that just about anyone who knows how to post pictures of monkeys onto Facebook calls themself a marketing firm.
It would be perfectly understandable if someone asked me why he/she should practice meditation when I meditate daily and am still plagued by such fear from time to time. It would be understandable if they used my story to say that meditation didn’t work at all and therefore was not worth trying at all.
The unhappy truth is that meditation is not going to take the pain of life events away. It is not going to numb your mind. It is not a fairy godmother who makes all the bad things go poof! If that’s what you believe then you are reading the wrong books.
What meditation does for me in times like these is this:
1. It allows me to see that a process is going on.
When life events happen that trigger deep fear, they seem to flow along with a process: 1) the event, 2) the “what-ifs”, 3) the physical manifestations from perceiving a threat of survival, 4) the weakening of my body, and 5) tears, thrashing and/or screaming whereupon I end up in a tangled heap on the floor.
After the expenditure of all of that energy, I am cleaned and my thoughts are clear. I can move on (until the next time of course!). It’s simply a process – a digestion – of events.
This process happens in this way, in this order, every time that deep fear is triggered. While the process is still painful, I recognize that it will end which in itself provides a sense of peace.
2. The triggering events happen with less frequency over time.
As I experience more days with an even temperament and less fluctuation of emotions, I can tolerate more fear before I get triggered.
3. Birth is usually accompanied by pain. Meditation reminds me of this and encourages me to breathe through the birthing pains.
Every deeply significant positive life event for me has been accompanied by pain. Painful choices, physical pain, emotional pain – all kinds; but to stay in the status quo was worse.
One of my favorite quotes is by Anais Nin – “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Once I get to the “tangled heap” phase of my deep fear experience, I know that life is about to take an exciting turn. I know that there is a part of me that wants to expand and experience more of what life has to offer.
Every new life or significant life event begins with the pain of birth. There is no other way. Meditation allows me to breathe through the birthing pain of fear.