Monday, April 20, 2009

Easter Day 9: Fear, etc.

I have been thinking a lot about fear.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love." 1 John 4:18

I was on the phone crying at 6:15 this morning, to someone who was willing to listen to me talk about my fear.

I spend a good part of every day trying not to be in fear.

I keep coming back to the sheer childishness of it, the pure emotion of, "They'll be mad at me."

I think I know why this is so annihilating. I think it has to do with old, old, stuff. Childhood stuff. The way I felt when my parents (my mother in particular) were angry with me. The way it felt like I might not actually survive their displeasure-- not because they were violent with me (though my mother was, often). Rather, because I couldn't bear it, in my heart. My mother expressed anger by withholding, going away. Being unavailable. I remember pounding on her locked bedroom door, I remember calling her on an intercom, and the terrifying rage with which she responded.

I love her, and she's dead now, and I know the thought that these things would linger would be incredibly painful for her to know. And most days I am at peace with our relationship. But the ripples from a relationship like this go far and wide.

One place they have gone is my relationship with my own children. I know I have been a better parent to my younger child than I was to my older child. With my oldest I am afraid I did something similar (though I managed to arrest the cycle of physical punishment). This pains me, almost a physical pain, when I think about it.

The person who was willing to listen at 6:15 said, "You need to go into this with love. It will make a big difference for your congregation if they perceive you are doing it with love. If you are doing it full of fear, they'll pick up on that, it will affect how they respond."

I know. I know.

I returned to the swimming pool today for the first time in months. One of the things I have to cope with is a kind of amnesia that strikes about healthy behaviors. Why is it so hard for me to recall how amazing swimming makes me feel? I leave the locker room and I can almost feel the seratonin flooding my system.

I have prescribed exercise for myself, to help with my fear. Tomorrow is Tai Chi, and then a long walk with Beloved.

Fear, my companion. I'd best make friends with it.


susankay said...

I've always been somewhat confused about what it is appropriate to pray for. The only thing I know is that is REALLY OK to pray for fear to be taken away.

Sophia said...

Oh, C.--you are so brave to face and feel the fear and move forward anyway. Love you.

Processing Counselor said...

I have remind myself to swim, too. Try not to be so afraid. Easy to say.

Jan said...

Cecilia, you are brave to keep on this path. Like you, I believe (most of the time) that I was a better mother to my children, though I miss my mother, who died 17 years ago.

I remember a therapist telling me to ask myself these questions when I felt panicky:
Are you safe right NOW?
Who is in charge?

Songbird said...

Keep swimming, keep swimming!

Just me said...

Withdrawing of love is the hardest thing to face. To know its limits to know it is not unconditional. My mother used to lock herself in the bathroom and not answer for hours - I would be outside begging and she wouldn't respond. I too am scared of wht people might think of me, that they may be angry with me or think badly of me. But I trully believe that I can be free from this - that he stands at the door and knocks - waiting for me to take his hand and receive the help and love. Life is hard for both of us at the moment - there seems so much to lose - yet how much more to gain!

LittleMary said...

this is such complex stuff, a nexus all coming together it seems. just through it, it is the only way. are you praying for your fear? for me, as i was coming out to my committee, it helped. dunno...

Choralgirl said...

To echo Dory and Songbird, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming..."

"Fear, my companion." Got a certain amount of resonance there myself these days.

I'll pray for you and you pray for me, OK?

Love you!

jsd said...

it is really hard to sit with fear, to listen to it, to not run away from it, and not act from that place of fear.

continued prayers

AJ said...

Sending love and peace your way.