Dear Fear: A Letter

After reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic, I was inspired to write this letter to fear. I wrote it at a moment in my life where I was on the cusp of being brave enough to finally REALLY embrace the life I wanted to live, after decades of gearing up for it and taking baby steps. I think writing this letter was a wonderful exercise in taking a big step forward in my life, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to make changes.

Dear fear, 

I am writing to you because recently, I decided that I was going to allow myself to experience vulnerability in a way that  I never have before. I decided that I was going to embrace my inner Aphrodite and not just my inner Athena. I decided that instead of reaching out for love yet always holding something back (just to be safe) I was going to love wide-open and full-throttle like the soul who came to this planet a few decades ago, before she learned to survive by putting up walls and fortresses against the arrows others didn't even know they were launching, before she learned to hide her light under a bushel so as not to make others uncomfortable with the intensity of her flame, before she learned to minimize her opinions and her dreams due to the mistakenly-learned belief that she probably didn't deserve them, anyway. 

Anyway, fear, my point is that since I made the decision to be vulnerable, I have noticed that you are showing up in my life A WHOLE LOT MORE. And I do have to say, I think some of your tactics are ridiculous. Remember when I was in my bathroom and I noticed how messy it was, and how my rugs needed washing, and you whispered, "What a sad person you are. You don't even care about your home. Why would anyone love someone who doesn't even have their shit together enough to make sure their bathroom rugs are washed"? The funny thing is, just for a minute, I believed you, before I stopped to analyze the absurdity of what you were saying.

And remember when you showed up again a while later, causing me to hyper-analyze the way I communicate with the people I'm close to? When you advised me against being so enthusiastic and expressive and told me that I would come across as needy and weak if I loved so openly or spoke so freely of my true feelings? Yeah, that almost worked, too. I've spent a good portion of the past month wrestling with that one.  And let's not even go into the ways you always bring up my past mistakes, and tell me what a screw-up I am for the choices I've made, and how nobody could love someone so ridiculous and confused. 

The thing is, fear, you know me really well. You know all of my weak spots, and you know just what to say, just how to take a tiny kernel of truth and tweak it so that it seems like you're offering a plausible and rational critique. You've been pretty good at "helping" me to keep amazing people at arm's length, "helping" me to believe that I'm just not quite good enough to go for what I really want and that I should therefore settle for whatever I can get, "helping" me to "be realistic" and not "disappoint myself" by going for the life I envision because it is out of my reach.

Oh, I know you mean well. I know you're just trying to save me from the horrible disasters you imagine at every turn, the tigers outside the cave, or the cliff that's a few steps from my feet. But what I have noticed, fear, is that….how should I put this? Your judgement is, frankly, inaccurate. WILDLY inaccurate. And I just want you to know that even though I appreciate the ways that you (and your twin brother, anger) sometimes protect me (like helping me see when a boundary has been crossed, or when I'm dealing with a person whom I should avoid, or when I need to put some attention toward a tricky situation) I do feel that I need to put you on notice that I'm not going to be allowing you any say in what I choose to do with my life. I know you're going to be around. I'm not even going to try and kick you out, because when I do, you just show back up with a disguise (and I have to say, you're a master of disguise.) No, I'm cool with you being here. Just don't expect to get a vote when it comes time for me to decide where to go, what to do,  whom to love, or HOW to love. Don't expect me to let your little whispers dictate how I feel about myself anymore. 

Don't expect me to let you cause me to keep silent when I know I really need to speak up for myself or another because you tell me I should "be more compassionate." 

Don't expect me to let you talk me into being with a romantic partner who doesn't suit because you tell me that the one I really want could not possibly ever want me back. 

Don't expect me to let you make me feel ashamed of the way god made me, strong and bold and passionate and wild and free and open. 

No, fear, I just want to put you on notice that our relationship is changing. You've been in my life a long time--forever, in fact. We've been through a lot together. And believe it or not, I'm glad you've been around. You have your place. 

It's just a much smaller place than you've had before. 


PS Do you know something else, fear? This is a truth that is diametrically opposed to what you have always tried to convince me of: IT IS NOT DANGEROUS TO LOVE! Not even a little bit! If I'm standing in my power, and I love someone wholly and completely, and they don't love me back in EXACTLY the same way (and how could they, really, because they're not the same person as I am and no two people could ever love in exactly the same way) then NO HARM IS DONE AND NOTHING IS LOST. Love only yields gain. But don't feel bad. Lots of people get confused about this matter, and about what love actually is. And you and love don't really share space much, so it's not surprising that you don't really understand her. Just sayin’

Leave a comment

Add comment