Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Feel the Fear

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 08:00 pm
my_lost_mind: (hiding)
If you've been reading any of my crap on this blog you'll have figured out that I'm a fairly weird lady.
 
I've been thinking quite a bit about the shit that I'm afraid of, and shit that I'm afraid to admit that I'm afraid of.
 
Some things that I'm not scared to admit that I'm afraid of include:
 
My house burning down
Financial ruin / job loss (yeah, that's a pretty logical one)
Spiders
Driving in unfamiliar cities without a GPS (I have no internal compass.  None whatsoever)
Driving in a snowstorm  (almost ran into a jacknifed truck during a bad storm many years ago)
Angry people  (I still shrink when someone is angry around me, this one has been hard to deal with)
Dying alone and nobody notices I've gone "missing" (never aspired to be one of those corpses that gets discovered only after the neighbors complain about a mystery stench)
Dying ... and nobody knows to go attend to my pets
Hurting people I love and not realizing it
Losing my hearing  (can't imagine life without music, without hearing the birds sing, the sound of a distant train, etc.)
Losing mobility (ALS took my stepmom's life)
Losing my memory (I've seen what effect this has had on my father)
 
Some things that I used to be afraid of, but have managed to deal with over the last 20 years or so...
 
Being naked around friends and/or lovers (I used to be really hung up about the way I look sans clothing)
My mother  (she's still a nightmare, but at least I can stand up to her now)
Not having children  (it just sorta happened, and I had no choice but to get over it)
Moving household.  (I've moved so much over the last 20 years that it got easier to deal with the terror from each move)
Losing my pets (losing a beloved pet dog to a heart attack a few years ago forced me to gain some perspective)
Going to movies by myself  (I used to think it was somehow a bad reflection on me)
Dining alone in a restaurant (business and personal travel fixed this, either deal or go hungry)
Talking to "strangers" (see below)
"No strings attached" sexual encounters  (probably drove a few guys nuts with my neuroses over this)
Walking alone at night (it wasn't until I got a dog that I started to deal with this.. see below)
 
Some things that I am embarrassed to admit that I'm still afraid of...
 
Other people's grief / grieving  (I never know what to say. Not being religious, offering "spiritual" sentiments always seemed hollow to me)
Talking too much in a social setting
Talking too much in a professional setting (I'm getting better and knowing when to STFU, but I still fear  sounding like a moron because I don't always know when to shut my trap)
Big parties where I only know a few people
Revealing too much of myself to people I've just met (I am terrible about "nervous" talking, so even though I've been able to manage striking up casual conversations with people I've just met, I still feel anxious)
One-sided relationships of any kind  (I could write a novel on these)
Showing weakness and/or vulnerability (I hate it... still working on this)
Casual dating (the whole process of meeting new people, drinks, dinner and small talk... sheer terror)
Being physically assaulted  (a pretty typical fear for most women, but this really goes hand in hand with being vulnerable. I always hated being petite, and never quite developed the solid set of eyes in the back of my head).
 
and last.. but not least..
 
A gnawing fear of the "unknowns" in life.  I've been battling this particular monster since my childhood.  This gnawing fear that some person, some event, will kick my feet out from under me, and I land flat on my back gasping for breath.
It's not a fear of adventure, or change perse, but that it's a change that I have no control over.
It's a fear that someone I thought was a friend, is not.
A fear that someone I love will leave, or be taken from me.
A fear that I will have to accept something that is painful and sad with a brave face and polite smile and carry on when I'm really falling apart inside.
 
An old childhood friend of mine has faced the death of her husband and son only a few years apart.  I can't imagine the kind of grief she must be going through.  I cannot imagine loving someone so much, to think your world is upright and sane only to wake up the next day and find that this whole lovely reality has been turned upside down and inside out.
 
She has no choice but to carry on, she's got a young daughter who needs her to be strong.
 
Another friend lost his beloved wife of only a few years after she lost her battle with breast cancer.  I knew the both of them quite well.  She was always so full of life, and full of love for those she called "family" or "friend".  His grief is immense. She was spouse, friend, mother to her children (and stepmom to his son).    I felt guilty being 1000 miles away when she passed, unable to attend her memorial service.
 
However, I'm not sure if I would have been able to process her loss any better than I was able to process losing other friends to the randomness of death over the past few years.
 
I fucking hate rude surprises.
 
Getting laid off from a job a month after buying a condo.
Finding out that I had been taken advantage of in a bad mortgage deal.
Getting told by men I really liked being with  (after sleeping with them a couple times)  "I like having sex with you, but I don't want a relationship with you.   I don't want to date you."
Hell, one guy told me (as he was dumping me) that he didn't like me, and hated my dog  - entirely out of the blue - never saw it coming.
Having my suddenly dog die (more or less en route to the emergency vet) ...the day before Thanksgiving (2 years ago).
Falling down a set of stairs, breaking my ankle and becoming dependent upon my pathetic excuse for a (then) boyfriend who had a tenuous grip on reality and turbulent relationship with alcohol.
 
Shit like that.  Rude surprises like that just knock the wind out of me.
 
I have always gone through life with this strange Polyanna tendency to look at life as a glass half full, that people are always what they appear on the surface, and that I'm some sort of badass warrior princess who can handle anything that life throws me.
 
The truth is, when these obnoxious things happen in my life I turn the pain inward.  I ruminate, blame myself, drink too much, think too much after drinking too much, eat too much, then think too much again until I'm a gelatinous pile of goo huddled on the sofa vowing to never care about anyone or anything ever again.
 
Several years of therapy and too many years writing about this stuff hasn't helped much.  If anything it's made me think I'm more of a badass than I really am.    I'm not a superhero.   I'm human.  I'm supposed to be sad, fall apart, feel awful when bad things happen.
 
The problem is that I've typically surrounded myself with emotionally or physically (or both) unavailable people.  I've always felt guilty leaning on friends in times of crisis.
 
This is old childhood conditioning at it's worst.   I never had a sense that there was anyone I could lean on growing up, so I learned how to "tough it out" and deal with whatever came at me, by myself.   While self reliance is a wonderful thing, being self-contained at the expense of getting close to people isn't quite so wonderful.
 
So that's it really.
I'm afraid of the random awful things in life because it feels like just one more thing I'll have to deal with by myself.
I'm afraid of getting close to people because I fear they will not be there for me when I really need them.
When I do form new friendships, new relationships, it's a daunting and frequently scary thing because I have to take the risk that these folks might too, let me down someday.
 
There is some psychological school of thought that one must learn to "feel" their fear and then do whatever it is they're afraid of anyway.  
I guess I'll have to chew on that for a while.
I do need to get a grip on this stuff or I'm going to end up one bitter, frustrated old lady who will die alone and get partially eaten by her cats before the neighbors call the cops.
 
However... I think I'll always be afraid of spiders.... and driving in snowstorms.

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