The other morning I woke up afraid. Before I had really even begun my day, I opened my eyes and there she was. Catching in my throat, preventing me from pulling in a deep breath.
I reluctantly said hello to Fear; she is a guest who likes to sneak in unbidden and overstay her welcome.
Then I asked her what was up.
“You’re starting to believe in yourself,” she replied. “And that never leads anywhere good. When you fall it will just hurt more.”
I reminded her that I’d been teaching and writing for more than two years already so why did she feel the need to crash my party all of a sudden? She proceeded to remind me how she had never really left for extended periods of time but had always stuck close, waiting for the moment I would make a big fool out of myself…
And of course, she was telling the truth. That is one of the nasty things about Fear; she always mingles truth with fiction.
She has never left me. Not completely. I have had to push and tug and elbow her out of my way over and over again, through the years. She has held me back, sabotaged me, told me it is better not to try than to try and fail. Better to hide than to bare your soul only for someone to stomp on it.
“But Fear,” I whispered gently, “this is my one life and I’m done hiding. You make me afraid to stay where I am and afraid to move forward. I don’t care if I’m a fool, I am walking to freedom. I can’t make you leave but I am asking you to.”
She got really nasty then. She yelled at me that I was a nobody and sneered I was an idiot for thinking I, of all people, could make a difference in this big world. That I, a struggler, could offer hope or encouragement to anyone else. But I fought back and have the bruises to show for it.
“Yes, I am a struggler, a nobody,” I yelled back. “But I am also BRAVE and I am BEAUTIFUL. I am powerful and compassionate and resilient. I am so stubborn, Fear, and I will not quit. And even nobodies have gifts to offer the world.”
She picked up her jacket quietly and walked out the door then. Left the door wide open. I sat back down on the edge of my bed, already a little weary and the day had just begun. I knew she’d be back.
But in that moment I felt free.
*I originally published this on my FB page, July 13/17