“This short word somehow touches about every aspect of our lives. It is an evil and corroding thread; the fabric of our existence was shot through with it. It set in motion trains of circumstances which brought us misfortune we felt we didn’t deserve. But did not we, ourselves, set the ball rolling?” – Alcoholics Anonymous, page 67
I never considered myself a fearful person. In fact, the opposite. I liked to brag about being brutally honest and unapologetically adventurous. Of course, most of the time this just meant that I wanted to be able to be careless with my words, thoughts and actions and disguise cruelty as an asset. The cold manipulation and calculated betrayal of my friends wasn’t to be held against me because I was ‘being real’. This was a way to distort my reality and hide my truth. I was terrified of NOT treating others poorly and I was terrified to let them know just how much power they had to hurt me. Just like I used to think believing in God was a shortcoming, I thought vulnerability was for the weak. I would be the “hole in the donut” as they say if I let go of these behaviors. I wasn’t ready to let go of those mechanisms I used for survival.
The truth looking back is that I was afraid almost every day. Of what ‘he’ thought of me, of how I looked next to ‘her’, of other people’s judgements, of others finding out who I really was. This fear paralyzed me. I wasn’t able to make decisions about who I would date, who I was friends with, what food to eat, what music to listen to, and on and on. I thought one wrong move would spell the death of me. In my core, I knew I was “less than”. Eventually, I knew everyone close to me would find that out and reject me anyways so I didn’t feel compelled to be loyal to them. It was a belief system that allowed me to act however I wanted and not feel guilty. This caused immense harm to my friends and family. My actions created reactions in others and my beliefs were solidified over time.
It never occurred to me that I was simply afraid to be alone, afraid to be loved, afraid of being abandoned, afraid of being rejected. Doing my 4th step, I uncovered that almost every single resentment I had was rooted in these fears. I had a choice to make: either continue to turn my life over to the care of God or continue doing it my way. The choice was pretty easy after seeing how difficult I had been making my own life. I didn’t want to be alone and I was now ready to be 100% honest about it. I need human connection and that’s normal. I’m not superhuman, I’m one amongst many with the same needs as any other person. But I was never going to get what I wanted by continuing to act the way I used to. I learned the fear prayer and use it whenever I feel afraid, anxious, defensive or panicked. I’ve never been let down when I ask for God to remove my fear and show me who God would have me be. I’m always given the next right thought or action to guide me into becoming my best self. This is what it looks like for me to let God into my life. While I’m not 100% free of fear as an emotion, I have the choice to be free of its influence in my thoughts, words and actions.