The Lesser of Two Pains
Fear. It fuels the world while oiling the wheels of death. You sacrifice parts of yourself to stay alive. It keeps you going by consuming. It hands you a knife and says ‘cut’, and you do it just to keep it placated. You obey its commands, although it breaks your heart. What will happen if you don’t? A greater pain awaits, so you choose the lesser of the two.
How Does Fear Form?
If it isn’t from a sudden shock, then it is through conditioning of the mind. It builds and builds and builds, new pathways in your brain. It repeats causes, responses, pain, over and over again. Until a protective shell encases your heart, which shields you from further shock.
It does a tidy job, but absorbs even the good that comes your way. It is an irrational guard who wields logic as a baton, and beats everything up at the door. The baton is sturdy, but warped from endless pressure. It doesn’t matter to you that you might hit something good by accident. Better to beat than to let yourself get beaten up. Better to stay in a clinical bubble, than expose yourself to the germs that come with life.
Why Fear is Self Harm.
There is no happiness or hope in it. There is little self respect in it. To let fear run your life, is to give up on life itself. There is no end to the terror it brings. After you conquer one fear, another breeds to fill the void. There is a shadowed alcove within you, that shields you from the passing rain. No garden will ever grow there, but that is not its purpose.
Keep it free of weeds, a secret place where you can retreat to. Fear forbids connections with love and happiness. It hurts those around you as well, for they too may not enter. It robs you of your humanity, and sometimes you let it be. What will it do to you next, should you anger it? It is the brainchild of torture running wild, and you know that it has the capability to do worse than before.
Fear in Its Many Forms.
Fear grips me like a vice. I fear fear in all its monstrous manifestations. The unbearable physical pain, and unseen psychological torture. Fear has battered, bruised, spat on, humiliated, ignored, trashed, trodden and digested me in part. It is a skilled worker and leaves no trace on my appearance. I see its many faces in the hospital, and its shadow stands watch over me every night.
It wants you to look at it first thing in the morning. It likes attention, and it has a voracious appetite. It dines on the most sumptuous of your dreams, and intrudes during the most intimate moments. It wants to be part of your life, and shows up when it’s crucial. The only problem is that it wants to possess you, so that it can spread its agenda. It doesn’t care about your wellbeing; you are just its empty vessel.
But Something Happened Today
But today. Just this very normal day. A day after many days in years, I have decided. For a long, long, long time, fatigue owned my life. I may be only 30, but I feel like I’ve been weary for a lifetime. As the nurse who struggled to carry my stack of files said, “You have enough medical problems for a few old folks combined.” But today I have decided that fear no longer rules my life. It has to relinquish control back to me. Today I took a torch of fire, and burned down that shell around my heart. I was surprised at how combustible it really was. Fear stood and watched without expression, but didn’t do anything. Today I relaxed and let part of myself go.
Fear does not like it when I calm down, and gives a little frown. But I looked up with a smile, and it smiled back. We reach an unspoken understanding. It may stay, but it cannot control me. It has me beaten up, and I have all the fresh burns and old scars to show for it. But today it walks behind me. Unchained, untethered, it trails along after me. Today I took one step forward. I am bruised from head to toe, but I have been sitting on this rock for far too long. The rock may be solid but I am going nowhere. Dirt cakes my body, but the soles of my feet are fresh and unworn.
Today I stood up and took one step forward. I plan to harden my feet and dirty them by walking, covered by the dust from many wondrous worlds. Of course there will be stormy days ahead, but this time that shadowed alcove will be well tended. I will just have to sit, stare and tide it through, but it will now be a bosom and not a cell. Today I take my first step forward, after a lifetime of being tired.