I recently heard the question: What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
It started a new exploration for me. Because while I don’t think it’s possible to get over or be done with fear, I am inspired to consider what I would do if the fear wasn’t there.
This morning as I journaled something fascinating happened. With the question “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” rolling around inside me, I suddenly felt overwhelmed with fear!
At first I wanted to push it aside, to consider what I’d do if I was NOT afraid. But I decided to change course. Rather than avoid the fear or pretend it didn’t exist I went toward it. I faced the fear I didn’t want to see, or even admit to feeling.
Many fears, that undoubtedly affect my love life, were just beneath the surface. Part of me is afraid to share them with you. What will you think? Will you still trust me?
As a firm believer in guiding by example I’m going to anyway. We ALL have them and I know sharing my vulnerability makes it safer for you to do the same. (Notice what you do think of me as you read my fears — whether you trust me more or less, whether you feel closer or more distant from me.)
Now that I see these fears so clearly I trust myself more. And I have access to something new and surprising. I’ll share that too, but first the fears:
I Am Afraid:
I am afraid of attempting to join my life with another’s again.
I am afraid of turn-on fading, of unmet desires, of irritation and daily grind.
I am afraid of trusting another’s heart.
I am afraid that life will wear away at the thin, seemingly shiny coating two people start a relationship with, without which reality sets in again, reminding us that we are actually alone, will always lose another (whether to leaving or death), and that togetherness can induce more hurt and heartache than being alone.
I’m afraid that I am better from a distance and that if I don’t satisfy the physical, emotional and intellectual needs of another I’ll be left.
I’m afraid of being bored by another.
I’m afraid my desire for sex will be stronger than another’s and I’ll have to navigate disappointment when I want more.
I’m afraid I’ll start to sag and roll and my body’s age won’t cause the same arousal it once did.
I’m afraid I will want more care than will be offered, that when I start to feel more wants and needs I’ll run for the hills.
I’m afraid to lose myself, to not speak my mind, to have those small moments of turning away from myself that eventually lead to a complete loss.
I’m afraid it will be an effort to navigate emotional terrain, that I wont’ be able to separate from the others’ upset and I’ll be bogged down with it as though it was my own.
I’m afraid of being seen every morning without eyeliner and concealer, afraid that the tasks of shaving my legs regularly enough to stay smooth for a live-in partner will feel tedious and annoying.
I’m afraid of being annoyed at someone else’s physical mess – clothes, papers and stuff.
I’m afraid I could never live up to someone else’s dreams.
I’m afraid I won’t generate my own joy and will come to resent the other person for dragging me down.
The New and Surprising
Alright, now you’ve seen them. The parts I really don’t want you to see. At this point I don’t know whether you think differently of me. But if you (or I) spend your life hiding these parts, you never get to relax into being loved for who you really are. You’ll always be suspicious that someone will stop loving you when s/he finds out what you’re “really like inside.”
As I’ve dated and had relationships since my divorce I’ve been more tentative about it all. Relationships aren’t easy, especially as I’ve attempted to find the causes of relationship breakdown and understand what love actually is.
As I let my fears flow this morning I felt more energized, even giddy. I was surprised that what showed up next were my desires.
I found my commitment to a relationship without blame, shame or attack. I remembered that I have emotional and spiritual practices, mentors and communities to lean into. I realized that even though sharing my desires can feel like my life is on the line, it is also exciting and interesting.
I realized that I love time by myself and no longer need someone else to make my life good. I saw my longing for deep connection and affirmed even though my heart won’t always stay open, I know how to return to an open heart. In short, as my desires appeared I also had more trust in myself to create them.
To Fear or Not to Fear
Today, consider inviting your fears to the table. Write them down or speak them into a recorder. Keep going until you feel lighter or freer, until something else shows up on the other side.
Today, instead of trying to get over your fear, let it guide you.
Let us know what you find!