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Fear: Friend or Foe?

fearful-dog-hidingFear is a fickle, fickle bitch lady.  Like that annoying, inappropriate extrovert at the party,fear pushes us into dark, uncomfortable corners, and often brings out  equivalently dark emotions.

Let’s not mince words: Fear is an asshole of the grandest kind.

But you know what Buddhists say about our challenges right? They say they are our opportunity to practice and to become better people: more patient, kind, understanding, and dare I be gauche and say, zen?

Fear comes and goes in my life, kinda like that extra twenty pounds that sneaks up every now and again. During times of bounty and joy, fear can’t be found anywhere. It’s curled up napping in a corner of the basement next to the grungy, old patio lanterns and cobweb blessed bowling shoes.

During these times, we often forget that fear, loneliness, uncertainty, anger, and all of those other not-so-pretty emotions take up equal residence in our psyches.

Not until we stumble, suffer a loss, or come nose to nose with the not-so-nice stuff about ourselves that fear wakes up, takes a leisurely stretch, yawns, and wanders through the parlour of our minds with pubes poking through its ripped and soiled gotchies. Ah yes, FEAR; the ugly, unkempt brother to confidence.

A few years ago I was completely frozen by fear. Self-doubt strung such a heavy curtain across my life that I felt like I was literally paralyzed. I didn’t like a lot of things about my life, and as it turned out, sitting alone, frozen in fear, I didn’t like quite a number of  things about myself.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being vulnerable, and yet allowing yourself to be vulnerable is the only way to receive true love. Not the roses and horse-drawn-carriage-ride kind of love. No, the kind of love that sees the light at the end of the tunnel for you and drags you to it when you are temporarily blinded and paralyzed…usually by fear.

So, as a fiery woman of strong-female-fiery-Irish descent, my natural reaction to fear is anger. I’m a fighter not a fligher. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but it’s a thing, and it’s my thing, and I’ve grown to accept and own it. Le sigh….

As a quasi-buddhist-agnostic-lapsed-protestant-catholic-ritual-lover, I know that fear is a grand teacher. I know that breathing, being in the moment, and my practice as a Buddhist have taught me that all things, even that fickle bitch lady, Fear can be kind in the end.

Fear has taught me most of the qualities that make me a good person, but they’ve been hard lessons, and they’ve been painful, dark, depressing and scary as hell.

One day I had a frank conversation with my dear cousin, the Magnificent Mr. M. He encouraged me to really think of what exactly I was afraid of.  As it turns out, my deepest fear was essentially (jobless, homeless, loveless) being vulnerable, dependent on the kindness of others

But then I realized, that being able to be kind and loving to others is what makes me the happiest. Face it, I’m just too lazy to be a miserable twat. What that means is, if being able to be kind is a gift to me, allowing others to care for me also satisfies a deep human need for connection and giving. Giving and receiving love and support is an alchemy of spirit that we should never deny.

Huh??? That’s the double-edged sword of life though isn’t it? It’s so cliche, but it’s so true; Great love requires great risk…

…and what else is there but love my darlings? Really, what else is there?

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