Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fears

I’m a confident person. At least I think so. I know I’m definitely not a fearful person in that I’m not afraid of many things. My heart might skip a beat when I think about daredevil stunts like bungee jumping or jumping from the high dive. (I did that last month and don’t think I’ll choose to do it again.) But I know I could survive any one of those stunts by just jumping and DOING it.

I was thinking about this topic just a few days ago, thinking about my fears. I was going to write about it, but got sidetracked. (I’ve been doing that lately, which would explain my lack of posts here!) Then I read this post by an old high school friend on the same day I was thinking about fear, and decided to write about it.

I think if you’re human, you have fear. It’s just part of living. And if you don’t have fear, then you probably aren’t doing much living. Just walking out of your house each day assumes a small amount of risk, and risk includes fear. Most people decide leaving their house is an acceptable risk; chances are, you won’t get killed walking to the mailbox. But what about other risks in your life? What about the biggest one: LOVE? Let me know if you disagree, but the act of loving someone else – and especially letting someone love you – takes a HUGE amount of risk. There’s a real chance that when you open your heart to another human being, they could trample it to pieces. Oh, yessiree. That’s a big fear for many people. I personally know a few of them, myself included in some instances.

Okay, enough of this waxing poetic on fear. I’ll get down to the nitty gritty with you. What are my fears?

One of them is the fear of being rejected. Maybe here on this blog, maybe by a neighbor who might hold a grudge against me and make my life miserable, maybe the rejection of my children when they go through the teenage years. I think I’m like most people in that I want to be liked. At least a little, right? I’ve been rejected before, and it stinks. It causes such insecurity and regret.

Another big fear of mine is the fear of loss. That’s an ever-present possibility for me. I’ve lost most of my family of origin, which was devastating. Those losses opened my eyes to the realization that all of us are mortal. Yes, I understood that before those losses, but it was kind of an abstract idea that really only applied to old people and my grandparents. The death of my brother, mother and father slapped me right upside the head and made me realize death doesn’t affect only old people. It comes for children and siblings and friends and new mothers and coworkers. That realization grips my heart with fear that death might come again to my life, taking my children or my husband or my sister.

There’s one fear of mine that is a little less dramatic than death, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less powerful in my head. This is the one that got me started thinking about fear a few days ago. It’s the fear of being a friend to others and yet being friendless in the end. Let me clarify: I am afraid of digging in deep to others’ lives because they might need me, but not letting them (or their not being interested in) digging in deep to mine. I have this fear simply because of how I watched my mom die. She spent her life being a friend to so many people, and a really good friend too. The kind of friend who would quietly slip you money when your bank account was way beyond empty and you were in dire need. The kind of friend who would dog sit for you, even after your dog bit her own beloved dog. The kind of friend who would show up unannounced in court the day your divorce was final, just so you could see a friendly face in the rubble of your dead marriage. The kind of friend who never forgot your birthday, ever. And she usually sent a card or took you out to lunch to celebrate. The kind of friend who was there to give and didn’t take anything in return. In fact, she rarely opened her heart to show you how much she was hurting. She was so good at helping others but not so much at letting herself be helped. In the end, she died with only her daughters and sons-in-law around her, not allowing friends in to see her and say goodbye. She just wasn’t good at needing, only at being needed. I am afraid of ending up like that.

Well. There you have it: a small glimpse into my fears. No, I’m not afraid of death. Maybe a little afraid of pain before death, but I’m not afraid of death. (I have such reunions to look forward to!) I’m not afraid of heights or skydiving or bungee jumping or spiders. I’m not even afraid of cockroaches, although I DO NOT want to touch them. Instead, I’m afraid of being rejected and losing more loved ones and dying alone.

What are you afraid of?

1 comment:

Julie said...

Hey Elizabeth...Thanks for sharing. It's interesting that all these fears are abstract until...until they smack us in the face and bring us back to reality.

There is definitely a balance between enjoying life and being afraid. My mother-in-law does not drive on the highway because she's afraid to. It totally limits what she can do and where she can go. But, she's never done it and she's never been affected by it so I really don't understand her fear.

And, you know what? I bet your mom wasn't sad to be surrounded only by her family. Her joy in life came from seeing the joy and appreciation in her friends' faces. It sounds like that was almost her passion...to bring joy to others...not so she could have friends in the end but so she could experience that joy with them. For her to see her friends without joy in their eyes would've been harder for her to handle. Your mom sounds pretty special. I'm sorry I never got to meet her.

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