Monday, January 19, 2015

Wrestling With Fear

Monday, January 19, 2015

Each day when I sit myself down to write I am performing an act of faith and hope that one day my life will resemble my grandest dreams.  I still feel myself to be making forward progress.  I feel more hopeful about this coming week than I did last week.  And yet I also feel some very real fear.

In my opinion fear is not an easy subject to explore.  From what I have seen and heard all human beings have the capacity for fear.  If we didn’t feel fear we might not take actions to protect ourselves in the face of potential harm.  Fear seems to have an evolutionary purpose.  If we respond to our fear in a healthy way we can keep ourselves safe.  And yet if we live our whole lives in a state of fear we might not take the risks that will help us achieve what we dream of experiencing.  Fear can be both life saving and life withering.

As my Monday morning begins to unfold I find myself recalling how I lived in a state of fear for much of my childhood.  There were times when the fear was genuinely debilitating.  The months immediately after my father was nearly murdered are but one example.  I exhibited a very obvious symptom of recent trauma by going throughout the interior of my home and double and triple checking the locks on the doors were functional and engaged.  This behavior apparently didn’t concern my father.  He was too tuned out to pay much attention to the clear signs that I felt deeply traumatized.

The trauma of my earlier life history deeply affected my adolescence.  I did not have self-confidence befitting an individual of my intelligence and appearance.  To other high school kids I came off shy and unsure of myself.  With my father’s attention riveted primarily upon my new half-brother I felt myself fairly invisible during that important time in my life.  I became a wallflower.  I became a very good wallflower.

I am writing about fear today because fear is something many men do not easily acknowledge.  Many men are not taught to acknowledge their fears in any way that might cause them to lose the respect of their peers, suffer career setbacks and the like.  And yet to ignore our individual and collective fears is, in my opinion, very unwise.  To do so is the equivalent of playing a game of pretend that children play.

I want to acknowledge my fears and continue to move forward.  I believe this is one way I can be an authentic man.


Grief: The normal process of reacting to a loss. The loss may be physical (such as a death), social (such as divorce), or occupational (such as a job). Emotional reactions of grief can include anger, guilt, anxiety, sadness, and despair. Physical reactions of grief can include sleeping problems, changes in appetite, physical problems, or illness.

During my outpatient program today I acknowledged the pain I experienced when my first boyfriend broke up with me, moved away and then later attempted to commit suicide.  In reflecting on how I felt yesterday and today I realize the pain and grief of this experience was larger than I acknowledged it to be when I first began working with my therapist.

I feel some sense of relief that I am finally really beginning to own the magnitude of the grief I carried around for too much of my life.  Just verbalizing this truth is freeing.  I still do not feel great but at least I am becoming a more authentic person.

I have taken another small step in my journey.

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