What is this feeling?
I felt differently than I had a few weeks ago, but I couldn’t put a name to it; a foreign thing; some strange entity that at times had a paralyzing effect and at other times had me in a state of mind that wouldn’t allow me to hold still.
Then, as is often the case, from out of nowhere, came the moment of clarity. A name for this killer of spirits. Somehow this clever, treacherous adversary had, with unnerving ease, crept into my mind during one of my more vulnerable moments. It was fear.
This wasn’t the first time that my fight, the armor I surround myself with, had been checked for weak points of entry; that doubt had tried to take root in my mind saying, “You can’t handle this. You won’t make it through the challenges being thrown at you”. But this time was unique. This time was the first time those piercingly whispered words of doubt had finally penetrated my armor; my fight; causing me to wonder if I was wrong.
I believe that I play a strong role in deciding my future. On many occasions I have faced the choice; a few times the ultimate choice; to give up or to fight and keep going. And because I have such a firm knowledge that I have purpose in this world; have much left to do; have people who need me, especially my children; I have always put everything that is in me to keep moving forward and have known with certainty that I could. So how had fear snuck it?
What a horrible, disgusting experience it is; feeling stuck in a space where one’s core beliefs are being constantly tested. I have been afraid before; I wouldn’t be human otherwise, but this was new. I was standing face to face with something that showed no mercy. An endless, wordless, darkness; and I didn’t like it. So I decided to ignore it; pretend it wasn’t there; it would just go away. Then one day I felt it; realized that hiding was actually making me weaker by the moment. Fear, not I, was winning, and the only way for me to defeat this creature was to shine a light on it; force it out of its dark corner, so that I could see what I was up against; only then could I fight back.
I recalled the words of Frank Herbert, “I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” So I reached inside myself; held this fear in my hands; looked at it from all angles, and finally recognized it for what it was. It, not I, was small; it, not I, was weak. I told this fear that it would not own me; that it could not win; that it held no power over me; then I sent it away.
I know now, the only way fear could have won is if I had decided that the outcome was hopeless and chosen not to fight at all. It is only by facing our opponent that we can avoid further attacks and truly defeat that which threatens us. We never lose our ability to fight unless we choose to. It remains inside us, only sometimes it is overshadowed by something that pretends to be bigger and stronger.
The moment fear fled, I took a long life-giving breath and a deep sigh of relief. I felt my fight stand up, smile, then begin to shine; bigger, brighter, and stronger than ever before.
~ Meg Bernard