I have a fear that is staunch and heavy, anchored densely in my skin. It is the armor that I have clad over the bones of my ribcage, guarding this frail, breakable space in my chest. It keeps me safe — safe from wounds, from loss, from pain. Safe from the sort of devastating agony others spend their whole lives hoping to recover from. It tells me to avoid all entanglements, to keep calculating the costs, and to always choose what’s more convenient. However, it also keeps me safe from love. It is my protector, and my captor. It is the fear that keeps everything out — the fear that ultimately breeds hollowness, loneliness. This fear makes sure my heart never breaks, but rather lets it turn cold and hard, gathering dust until the last drop of blood trickles through my veins.
I am afraid of vulnerability.
I have a fear that whispers in my ear at night, keeping me awake. It is the millions of voices spinning relentlessly inside my head, enacting and reenacting an infinite measure of “What If” scenarios. What if there are monsters in my closet? What if I can’t find a job? What if I never meet ‘The One’, or get some terrible disease, or die full of regrets? This fear keeps me in a bubble of specific circumstances, replaying over and over in my life. It keeps me from dreaming greater dreams, from considering a greater array of possibility, and from understanding that my perception of the world is utterly meager, and that my beliefs cannot replace truth. It keeps me hiding under the covers, unable to face the darkness and look for the light switch.
I am afraid of uncertainty.
I have a fear that plays on the insecurities embedded within my thoughts, my actions; the very person I am. It exposes my inadequacies, showing me everything I am incapable of in comparison to everybody else. It fills me with loathing, and either directs that loathing towards myself or towards blaming the rest of the world. This fear is the most dangerous one of all, because once it seeps in, I cannot save myself from it. It is only someone else’s hand that can pull me from the inky waters of self-pity, of self-pride, and of self-destruction. The scariest part is that I may not even be aware that I am sinking.
I am afraid of myself.
In recognizing my fears, I am beginning to understand more of myself, more of courage, and more of faith. In our fears, we are reminded of what it means to be brave. What are you afraid of?