What makes you afraid?
What makes your palms sweat, your stomach hurt, your heart seize up?
When I was little, I was afraid of witches, especially the Wicked Witch of the West. I was afraid of bad grades. Of going to the dentist. Of speaking in public. Of my parents’ deaths.
Now, as an adult, I’ve had many, many dentist visits. I’ve spoken in public, and I’ve made some bad grades.
I’ve been through the deaths of both my parents.
I’ve been through cancer.
So what scares me now? When I’ve actually experienced, actually lived through some of my greatest fears, what do I fear now? What fear stories do I tell myself?
I tell myself stories about the collapse of our society, the destruction of our world. But not often.
I tell myself stories about cancer’s coming back. But not often.
I tell myself that I won’t be able to earn a living. But not too often.
I still feel fear.
It sneaks up on me. I feel a contraction in my stomach. Or in my heart.
But now, unlike when I was young, I try to be with the fear, to let myself feel it. And as I feel it, when I don’t run away, it lessens. And it finally dissipates.
For now. Because it always comes back.
But what I’m discovering is that fear is not nearly as powerful as it once was.
Why is that?
It’s partially because I’ve lived through many experiences I once feared. And none were as bad at the stories I told myself about what would happen, what these terribly scary situations would be like, would feel like, how they might destroy me.
I’m more resilient than I thought.
I think we all are.
Beneath fear, beneath vulnerability, is something bigger than either of those.
You could call it courage.
But I’m going to call it another name.
Now, after facing, after going through many of my fears, I realize that beneath them all is something much more powerful.
It’s powerful even though it’s soft. It allows vulnerability. It doesn’t judge or criticize (yeah, I know I’m speaking Paul). It seems weak, but it’s not.
All of my FEAR stories?
None can stand up to Love.
When I’m soft, when I allow myself and others to be who we are when we are, Love has a chance to seep in.
And then it begins its transformation.
Do I understand it?
But I know it. And I trust it.
It comes through Grace.
I can’t think it. I can’t grasp it. I can’t wield it.
I can only open to it.
Yes, I have to be vulnerable. I have to feel my fear.
And then I turn it over to Love, the Transformer.
And in that instant, all is okay, all is fine.
Love is my story beneath all stories. And above them all. And within them all. And before and behind.
So who’s AFRAID?
I still am, sometimes.
And I still trust in Love.
Because Love always IS.
6 thoughts on “More stories: FEAR”
I am 28 and I recently found out I have a recurrence of my breast cancer, I have to start 2 differenct cycles of chemo for 7 months and I am trying ( sometimes successfully sometimes less ) to stay positive and extra-strong through all of this! I can’t express how true and beautiful is what you wrote and how it touched me… I often find myself thinking that one of the pros of having cancer is that when all of this will be done I will have really few things left to be fearful about… again, thank you ! Viola
ps. this a poem I truly love: ” apart from love everything passes away, the way to heaven is in your heart, open and lift the wings of love. Rumi”
i just wrote a super long comment and it just disappeared! or so I think… anyway… having to start chemo in about 3 weeks I can’t express enough how true and beautiful and meaningful your post was to me ! I often find myself thinking that when all of this will be done I’ll have very few things to be anxious and fearful about … also there is this poem that I really love: ” apart from Love everything passes away, the way to heaven is in your heart, open the wings of love and fly. Rumi ” again, thank you! Viola
This is my third time trying leaving a comment, the others just disappeared under my eyes ( if I am keep commenting and I’am too un-technilogical to understand it, please accept my deepest apologies ! ) but I am just too in love with your post to let it to so I will try again… I am now fighting a recurrence of breast cancer at 28 and everything you said is so true ( and thinking about the chemo waiting ahead of me, so encouraging ) and so meaningful … I might not explain how deeply I felt all of your words! I often find myself thinking that when everything will be over There will be very few things with the ability to make me feel fearful or anxious !
Also there is this poem that I keep repeating in my mind: apart from love everything else passes away, you have the way to heaven is in you heart. Open the wings of love and fly. Rumi ”
thank you very much for your beautiful words! Viola
Your comments did reach me, Viola. Thank you so much for your kind words – and persistence. I have to “approve” comments for them to show up, and I just saw them. I do SO feel for you! Going through breast cancer once, especially at your age, seems just too much. But a recurrence. . . . that is definitely too much! I will be sending you the best of good vibes for this journey. When you say you have to be “extra-strong,” I wonder if you might give yourself a little break and allow some vulnerability? You already know you’re strong. Now perhaps see what’s there underneath the strength? I’m sure it’s something even more beautiful. I wrote more than one post during my cancer journey and after about how “terrible and wonderful” having cancer was. Such a strange oxymoron of an existence. And thank you for sharing the Rumi quote. He’s one of my very favorites. Blessings on your new journey – and on every moment of every day as you embark. Krista
I try to allow myself to be vulnerable, I just find it very hard to do it with others, mainly because those who love me suffer too much seeing me suffering, I guess it’s a spiral. But being the second time I am becoming good at this, I know a little better how to make myself understood !
I red your post to my family today and everyone loved it!
thanks for your answer and again excuse me for writing so many comments, I figured it on the third time but it was already too late 🙂 I just started blogging yesterday so I am very new!
Grazie (thanks, in Italian!)
I think sharing our vulnerability helps others realize that they can share theirs. I found blogging to be very helpful in my breast cancer journey. I hope you will, too. It’s an easy way to share thoughts and feelings – and needs – plus it’s so nice when you get encouragement. You write well – non-native English speaker or not! Thank you for sharing, and so many, many healing vibes are going your way! Grazie back to you – and prego from me 🙂