Monday, February 8, 2010

Finding Fear

As I look at taking better care of my body, I am becoming much more aware of emotions that hang around, influencing decisions and moods.  One of these emotions that crops up quite often is fear.  I'm not sure if this is a child-like fear that was never resolved, or a new, adult-sized fear.  And I'm not too sure if making the discovery of where this feeling came from originally is really important.  At this point, I am only interested in the fact that it is here, and feels like it has set roots down in me.  Not like an 'Alien' type thing, more of a 'Hey there, I'm around until you decide what to do with me' sort of thing.

But what purpose does fear serve?  We all know that fear can help guide us to make the right decision, such as not crossing the road at a time when cars are passing - no, be afraid of getting hit.  Yes of course - and this just turns into good judgement and common sense later on.  But as adults, what scares us?  I know that the unknown can scare me pretty deeply.  I'm not talking about the simple things - not knowing what's for dinner, or what the weather will be.  I'm talking about not knowing if my children will be ok without their parents when the time comes.  Will they stay safe when they are not at home?  I think it's natural for any parent to be concerned, yes, even scared about their children.  But what if we go deeper?

I think about my health and the decisions I've made over the past 2 decades - the time when I was really the one in control and answered to no one.  Years of ice cream and Doritos has taken a toll on me now - one that I don't know if I can undo, although I am working on it.  I now look in the mirror and see a frightened child looking back.  A child wrapped in layers of protection, yet no covering is enough to keep the hurt or confusion out.   It's as if all the years of putting on the pounds was my attempt at wrapping the layers of an onion all around, shielding me from rejection, disappointment and fear.  And yet, if I really look at it, I understand that all those layers KEPT those feelings inside of me.  Rather than shield me from the hurt of the outside world which I felt anyway, I also endured the anger and wrath of my inner critic demanding to know what was wrong with me that I didn't look like everyone else, act like everyone else, eat like everyone else.  The stronger that voice became, the more layers I wrapped myself in, and the cycle started over again.  every time I wrapped a layer around, I was causing those feelings to bounce back on me, when I wanted to keep them out altogether.  Talk about self-sabotage!

Finding a way to soften that inner critic has me face to face with my fear.  It's not an ugly stand-off as I had expected, but rather like a gentle calling to a frightened animal, one who is reluctant to come close for fear of the unexpected.  Through this process I am learning patience as I know this will not turn overnight.  I am also learning gratitude for being alive, for being able to recognize and hold these feelings, even if working through them every day is not an option for me.  

It's funny to type this up and sound so grown up, but of course in reality, I have good days and really bad days with this.  Just yesterday, you would have thought me 5 years old with the tantrums I had, stomping my feet and pulling my hair.  The problem??  I was mad that I couldn't have cake with my boys.  Imagine that.


goldenbird said...

Jill, you're such a good writer. I could relate to much of what you wrote. I definitely know what you mean about wrapping yourself in layers. You are an inspiration.

Barbara Bechtel said...

Thank you Jill, I agree with goldenbird about your writing. I relate with what you said about a gentle calling of a frightened animal. It is really like that.

Although fear is an emotion, I think it is also a choice. One which we wake up each day and decide if we will meet it and overtake it. Some days our will is better than other days. It is a constant reevaluation of our goals and decisions.

I struggle with this continually as well. We all need to wake up each day and be mindful of the opportunities of the day. :) I try to remind myself of this daily....send you more via email.


Hi Jill,
Rec'd the ATC card today and Thank you!
Deb :)

Jill said...

Stacy- Thanks so much. Funny how similar we are!

Barbara- I so agree with you. For the longest time I thought fear and anger were feelings that I had no control over. I thought they were imposed upon me from the outside world in response to something going on 'out there'. I am now learning that I make conscious decisions to remain in a state of unhappiness or discomfort, and that I have the control and choice making abilities to change all of that. That's a free-ing experience!

Melanie said...

I can relate too. I feel as I cut out the emotional eating that I have these moods and feelings that I am not used to. They used to be masked by ice cream or chocolate. Now I seem to get lost in my thoughts and try to figure out where they are coming from. It's so hard to turn off that negative chatterbox in the head sometimes but it's getting better. Wishing you a happy healthy week!

Jill said...

Thanks, Melanie- Yes the chatterbox that won't go away. Mine gets going on hyperdrive sometimes that I feel like I'm losing it! But yes, with continued practice, that habit is sloooowwwwwllllyyy going away.