Monday, September 07, 2009
Facing the Fear
In the face of dire reports (and predictions) in the papers and on the news, I've been thinking about fear and how it drives us. There are things outside myself about which I’m apprehensive such as drunk drivers on the same stretch of road, manic people with guns and knives and a grudge, global weather changes. There are internal things – killer viruses, toothaches, the occasional return of the sciatica that once paralyzed me for months, a second kidney stone, the creeping physical threats of old age. There are personal, emotional hurts such as the loss of a partner and the inevitable deaths of people I love, or being old and alone and ill. But these seem to me normal fears, worries that all humans cart around in daylight hours or take to bed with them as food for nightmares.
When I was small, I feared the monsters that lurked at the back of my closet and under my bed. As a teen I worried about forgetting my locker number, getting a bad grade, or never being noticed by the hunky hall monitor who stood in front of my math class. As a young mother I was afraid for my children; what if they got sick, lost, stolen? What if their arms got broken or their hearts? As a single mother I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to support us all. As a single member of the baby boomer generation, I wonder if I’ll be able to support myself on my SS check.
Many of the things I’ve feared have come to pass and I am still alive and whole and willing to get up in the morning. Digging around in my psyche, I realize that it’s not the things that come at me that frighten me, it’s more the anxious concern about how I will handle things that gives me pause. Will I be generous enough, kind enough, tolerant enough? Will I ever stop worrying that there isn’t enough of everything long enough to see that there’s an abundance of everything I need? Will I ever learn to trust again, or to hold my judgments in check?
I‘m not afraid of the dark anymore, and as a friend laughingly put it, I’m not afraid to die; I’m more afraid I’ll have to come back and do it all again. FDR was right – the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Angst can be our undoing.
What scares you?