A life lived in fear

It’s been a particularly long week, weighed down by things going on at home, a heavy workload, a fatigued body, and a loaded mind. Ordinarily I would do my writing on Monday, but being my husband’s birthday I pushed it later and later in the week. Each day I had an excuse, a reason, and too much on my mind. Even tonight, looking at the very tail end of Saturday, my mind is heavy with worries. Do I want to be writing right now? No, not really, but I haven’t skipped a week yet since I started this challenge and I do not give up easily.

Looking over all the things that are playing on my mind and I can clearly see I am living in a period of fear, which explains why my body is so worn out. Family difficulties always bring up insecurities for me and put me on edge, especially when there is a steady stream of uncertainty. On top of that I carry a perpetual fear about work, about not being good enough, about being left out in the cold. Lately I’ve felt like I can’t catch my breath and though I am trying so hard to do well I am also very tired. This year is whirring past and anxiety is beginning to well up as I think about what I want to achieve, and I wonder how on earth any of it is possible and how am I going to get out of it alive? On top of that we’ve had a hiccup with our apartment and now the security of home that I crave so much has become uncertain. For the first time in months I can’t calm the beast and I feel like I am caught perpetually trying to inhale but never getting enough air. On top of all of this any change in season always causes my CFS/ME to flare, so I am battling mind and body at the moment, after a period of strength, and it is causing me such frustration.

The thing is, I know how to take care of all of this; intellectually I know all the tools and how to use them, but emotionally I just can’t quite get a grip. Yesterday I had the opportunity to break down to a work friend who coached me through some of it, but I am still sitting here trying to breathe and not quite getting the oxygen I need. I’m living in fear, and the more I analyse my every move the more I realise almost everything I do is based in fear. It’s no wonder I’m fatigued right now. But then, I look again and I question – is it fear, or desire? Is fear what drives the desire? And is fear so bad? My desire is to be creative full-time, to earn a living from it, and to have a secure home. Fear of letting opportunity slide by is what pushes me forward – again, is that such a bad thing, really?

I’m starting to think that although fear may be behind a huge portion of my actions, it is totally necessary. It has helped me to get up and go to work, give me a roof over my head, and allowed me to purchase things that allow me to indulge my creativity. Fear of becoming bedridden is what drives me to fight my CFS/ME in any way possible. It drives me to research and learn about what will help me, and it drives me to keep active even when I want to come to a stop and just give up. Fear of not being very good pushes me to practice whatever it is I want to be good at, though laziness sometimes slows me down. Fear is what is driving me to seek resources to keep my current home, though it is also causing me to be somewhat immobilised. I was juggling everything else ok until the security of my home came into question.

Fear used to stop me from living. I didn’t speak for fear of judgement. I didn’t meet people for fear of hurt, and I avoided men for fear on so many levels. Public speaking caused panic attacks. I didn’t stand up for myself out of fear of losing people. I was paralysed by the thought of asking for help, which led me to be a below average employee when I had such potential. At the core, I was terrified of being hurt and of being a let down. When the bad things happened I carried them with me through life like cartoon ankle weights; as time went on they grew in number, because bad things happen but we’re meant to learn from them and let go in order to continue through life. It wasn’t until I came to the brink of my mental edge that I was able to begin to let them go, one by one. I didn’t do it alone; I had guidance for two years with a therapist, and another year of therapy alongside my husband. We continue together in the letting-go of our fears, and the building of our armour.

I think we can all agree that letting go of our fears is what truly frees us from being held captive of the world. The thing is, it is so hard to do. Therapy helps teach you to work through the thoughts and meditate on them, but sometimes this isn’t enough. Lord knows after the amount of therapy I’ve been through in the past couple of years I’d be an expert at this, and yet here I am fighting back anxiety and struggling to breathe. Of course, there is one thing that I always forget to do and it has taken me writing this to remember… prayer. I have been working on reading my bible more and turning to God more over the past few months, but it always seems to be so hard to just go “God, I am scared. This is outside of my control, and you’re the only one who knows what is about to happen. Help me to move through this situation your way“. It is so easy to ask for things for friends and family, but so hard to ask for yourself. Halfway through writing this post I stopped and realised what I was meant to do, and I prayed something similar to the above… and I immediately felt a peace that I have not felt for days. I think I will actually be able to sleep tonight! Now, I know prayer, God, and Christianity are not what everyone believes. This isn’t a post to try and sneakily convert you, but an honest account of how I have moved through a fear-filled life.

If you are more partial to a buddhist approach I think my simple prayer can still help you to remember the most important thing about fear; things are not happening TO you. Things are happening, period. We are going to continue to move through life with challenges, but the important thing is how we use fear or allow it to overtake us completely. I know right now I have done everything in my power to resolve my current situation, and this weekend there is no more that can be done. Now I must sit back and give it to God, in the same way you might give it to the universe. I have to let it go or I will never be at peace, and slowly but surely the darkness will take over again.

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