Fear

{image source: Dimitris Siskopoulos via Flickr}

I was pretty upset yesterday, when everything went awry.

I was fighting back tears. Even though I knew it wasn’t a big deal, even though I knew no one cared, I still wanted to cry.

When these waves of emotions crest, I try to be present, to be mindful, to experience them without judgement. I feel the knot in my throat, the buzzing in my teeth, the flutter in my chest. And when they’ve crashed against the shore and pulled languidly back into ocean of my subconscious, I search the depths for their source.

Almost always, when I touch that place, I find fear.

Yesterday, as I sunk deep into myself, trying to find where the wave had been born, dozens of thoughts darted past, dark shadows in the bright streams of filtered light. This is a disaster. How could I not notice these things before? I clearly can’t do this. Nobody will want to read me now. I should never have started this space. I’ve ruined everything.

It takes a lot of courage for me to swim past these thoughts. I don’t like when dark figures brush past me in the murky depths. I panic, my body seizes, every fiber of me jerks toward the surface. I want the bright lights and brisk wind to distract me from everything below the surface. I want to swim, even doomed to push forever against the current, in blissful ignorance of what is lurking underneath.

But I will myself to sink deeper, and when I finally rest on the cold sand below all those darting thoughts, I touch fear. Resting there, under the weight of everything, so still and yet so easily disturbed by my body’s inevitable flailing, is a dark, abyssal plain of gently undulating fear.

If I look closely at the sand, I recognize each grain, the seed of some paralyzing thought. What if this is a disaster? What if I make mistake after mistake? What if I don’t know how to manage my own, self-hosted space? What if nobody follows me here? What if I end up writing for no one? What if this space never lives up to the sanctuary I abandoned to create it?

These are the questions that scare me. The unknowns, the uncertainty. I’m terrified that I left something and that I might not love the thing I left it for. I’m paralyzed by the possibility that this was all a massive, monumental mistake.

It may seem melodramatic, and it very well could be, but I think this move is symbolic of other things for me as well: of venturing out, of leaving the familiar behind to tackle the unknown, of having faith in who I am and what I can accomplish. This space is about me coming into myself, and I’m not sure who I’ll find, and I’m not sure anyone will care to find her with me.

I know coming here was the right thing to do, but that doesn’t make it any less terrifying and it doesn’t make me any less worried that someday the decision will be tethered to great hulking anchors of resentment and regret.

Fear. It’s at the core of so much of what upsets me. If I sink deep enough, every lingering issue is rooted in fear. Finding it, recognizing it, takes some of the power away. When I know what really scares me, it’s easier to sit with it, even when the dark figures drift steadily past, determined to distract me.

I know I can never defeat fear: that abyssal plain will always be waiting, quiet and vast under the murky waters, poised for my panicked flailing to churn up the debris of dreams lost and goals unmet and blind me with the infinite fears that are forever lurking. My only chance is to float, quiet and still above the seabed, and see my fears for what they are: tiny pieces of myself worn away by decades of living–a shifting substructure above which I’m destined to float.

12 Comments

  1. Hey! Just saying hello in your new space…will need more time to unpack this post & leave a worthy comment.
    Its lovely. You should have a “house-warming” party!

  2. Here too.

    My therapist often asks me, when I tell her these feelings, “okay, so what if you are a big fuck up? What happens then?”

    And then I realize, you know what? It means I’m HUMAN, and it’s okay.

    You’re going to be great. Not just because you’re awesome, and a wonderful writer, but because you’re not alone. I’m venturing into self-hosting myself, and writing, and I feel kind of like we’re on this path together.

    Let’s make mistakes together and figure it out.

    xoxo

  3. Beautifully written- can’t wait to read more of you through this new lens. Change is hard, and scary, but I’m sure you will make a beautiful transition and I’m confident your readers will follow you here as well as some new ones.

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