“Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.” Unknown
Fear: It’s a tricky little devil. Its ugly head appears more often than I’d like to admit. And man is it powerful. It shows up in the form of worry, keeping me up at night, and with that a whole day or week can be shot.
Sometimes fear is subtle telling me, “Stay in bed, Karen. Don’t get up and go to workout, or go to yoga. Don’t see friends, and laugh and share. Feel how warm this bed is. Stay right here.” On days like that, it’s usually mid-day when my energy is low and I think, did that extra hour of sleep really benefit me?
Fear is the gateway drug to isolation, loathing, self-pity, and depression. It builds, with every experience, becoming stronger and making me sadder until I wake up and think, “What the hell, how did I get here?” It was the driver that kept me in my marriage and has been a compass for most decisions whose consequences took the greatest toll.
Joy is the best inoculation from fear. Vulnerability is the gateway drug to happiness. Being open to new experiences, enjoying them no matter what the outcome, then rinse and repeat. I am writing about fear this morning because yesterday, last night and again this morning, I was/am happy. I am recognizing the contagion of happiness because the last 24 hours were much different from Thursday when I fell asleep sad and woke up the same.
I am grateful for my friend Karin, who said to me as we were walking to her car last night, “You were a lot of fun tonight, I haven’t seen that silly Karen Craven in a long time”. I responded, “That’s because I wrote this morning”.
I put off writing again for the last few months because:
- I didn’t think I had anything worth writing
- I didn’t want to be vulnerable
- I didn’t want answers to questions that I’m stuck on
- I’d rather clean the house
Excuses, excuses … they add up. Because of them, I didn’t read as much I’d like. No writing and reading (reading for fun – more than headlines) – those two actions combined is an equally egregious form of isolation. I cut off my brain and it’s oxygen – it needs to be stimulated, to think about things other than the routines of the day, groceries, cleaning, walking dogs, etc. And the mundane trumped everything else, making my days seem obligatory and purposeless.
That rabbit hole to an abyss of fear is an easy one to fall into. And falling down, I have to be careful not to drag people with me. I don’t like being that person, you know the Negative Nellie or Debbie Downer. They drain people. They suck the energy right out of you. I see them coming and immediately put up my defense shield. What do you when you don’t see yourself coming? When you are the one, people fear?
Well, in my case, you start thinking about the things that bring me joy, instead of focusing on excuses. You wake up and make a commitment, and you wake up the next day and make good on that commitment.
Writing sets my foundation. It affirms my optimism and allows me to dismiss fear’s ugly head. Yes, it sounds easier than it is. As I have said countless times to my daughter, words are our most powerful weapon.
My keyboard is the most powerful weapon that I have to fight fear.