“Love vs. Fear”
“I believe that every single event in life happens in an opportunity to choose love over fear.”
Over the summer I was driving in the car somewhere with the kids and I mentioned that I had some fear about something I had to do. I can’t even remember now what I was afraid of, but I told the kids about it at the time. Wren piped up from the backseat, “but mom, you’re not afraid of anything.”
I do remember being taken aback by the strength of conviction in her voice and the look of earnestness on her face when I glanced in the rear-view mirror. She believed absolutely in what she was saying. In her mind, I am not afraid of anything. And how wrong she is.
Fear has been a theme throughout my life. I grew up in a household that fed me a steady diet of it. I was afraid of my mother’s mental instability from an early age. I knew instinctively that something was off and that I needed to tread carefully. My father was my ally when she was not around and he was sober, but he was seldom home without her and it was rare that I would catch him alone before cocktail hour. And my brother filled me with fear of a whole different kind.
I feared confrontation and family strife and being myself and letting people down and being abandoned. I could make an extensive list. In fact, I did, when I wrote my fourth step. I wrote for months and examined all facets of those fears and stared them down and turned them around and addressed them.
I can have confrontations now which I could not do before because of crippling fear. I still don’t like confrontation, but I can have healthy anger now and won’t back down when I know something is wrong and I have a right to speak my mind. I have a really close friend who jokes that rage is my sword because he has been on the receiving end of some of those confrontations himself.
I was afraid of becoming a mother once. I looked at my own mom and was afraid I would repeat history. I am not trying to bash my mother because she is ill, but because her illness was left unchecked where mine was not, damage was incurred. I did not want to inflict pain on my children in the same vain. I was afraid I would not know how to do it; to be maternal. I can safely say that once Liam was born a switch flipped and it turns out I am more maternal than I could have guessed.
Recently, I have had a lot of fear. A close friend of mine lost a family member in a tragedy and having to watch her hurting has been hard. I feel powerless to relieve her pain and like I am flailing around for something to make it better. I hate watching people I love suffer.
The same close friend who jokes that rage is my sword might also possibly be ill. He isn’t sure and is waiting to see from a biopsy what the future holds. This has me full of fear. I’ve watched Liam struggle and Frank struggle and I don’t want to do it again. There is a part of me that wants to run away and hide because watching people I love suffer feels like too much. It makes me feel like I might break in half.
I won’t run though, because I won’t break and because what Wren sees now as fearlessness is simply that I am no longer paralyzed by fear. I will just be vulnerable and full of love for my friends and family who need me because that is what I do best. I plan to just be maternal and loving and “mom” at them.
Maybe love is my sword.