I have been asking myself the same question a lot lately: What is it that I am so afraid of?
I keep trying to delve into my psyche to find a way to relinquish myself from fear, I meditate so that I can find a way to transcend it, and suddenly – when I am readying to vacuum and clean the dishes of all things – it hits me that I can’t escape fear. That fear and cowardice are not one in the same and that, most importantly, my mental health being the way it is, I might never be rid of this asphyxiating tether, wherever its roots may be.
In my sleep, I dream that I am well-paid, well-dressed and charming, a delight to anyone’s senses. When I am awake, I wonder what life might be like if only I had made this decision or that… I am terrified that at each critical point I have made the same choice and/or that that choice – at every turn – has been the wrong choice. What a lovely thing it would be if the femme I can be when no one is watching, when I am asleep and my fear of the gazes of others has gone dormant, would come out during my waking hours!
Where did I bury that femme? And why?
I wish to know about courage, and I wonder why I need so much of it to do the simplest of tasks while in the presence of others, as though some great harm might come to me – or to us collectively – should I make a wrong step. Why must I need courage to perform the radical act of enjoying my own presence? What is it in me that fears the ire of others, to the point where I have silenced even that internal fire, that passion which they cannot touch, that drives me?
It is a maddening thing. I know that the news of our political leaders’ actions, both foreign and domestic, has driven me into a metaphorical corner. I am afraid of the world, I am. The world we have created as human beings, that we justify by telling ourselves that is what is required to survive, that we justify by saying that is what is needed to make a paradise. A hell that we can perceive.
I wonder often how others do it. Put up blinders and go to work, go to school, compartmentalize the future away. I can chalk it up to my clinical anxiety or some egregious personality defect that I am unable to ‘play nice’ or ‘pretend’ in that way for very long.
An example: In my third year of high school, someone set off a bomb at the school, sending almost two dozen people to the hospital and winning a bounty of around $15k atop their heads.
We, of course, were put on lock down. The people in my class completely ignored the happenings outside or of the recent past, except to make smarmy jokes about the situation. For about an hour and a half I was good, and I was laughing too. Then all of a quick sudden there were tears and hyperventilating and remembering that there was a HAZMAT Unit just outside the door.
I know I was judged for that minor public breakdown, as nothing had happened to me specifically. Because nothing had happened to me personally, why be so affected? So worried? “The authorities are here, and it will be all better soon. Give it a rest!” they said in my imagined recollection of their thoughts. But I couldn’t relinquish that fear, some existential terror perhaps, even when I believed I had consciously.
It was still there, and the longer the emergency dragged on, the more it came to the fore. Just as always.
I can’t be the only one that experiences this, right? and yet…
Here I am, watching the news and wondering what this century’s great war will be and hoping that I am wrong that there will be one. Here I am, wishing to travel the world and being terrified of doing so for fear of how others may react to my skin color. Afraid to go grocery shopping down the street for much the same reason.
The woman in my dreams is such a confident and carefree, me. I wonder how she does not trouble over the things her coworkers might say, or whether she will measure up to her boss’s standards. I wonder whether she thinks about the economy or politics. I wonder whether she has lots of friends and goes to cocktail parties (I’m a sucker for a good cocktail party). I wonder what I would look like without the stain of anxiety marring the smile on my face.
Except I forgot to wonder what she fears too. How does she cope, or does she? Does she shove it away from her and remind herself of the goodness in the world? Is that enough to keep it away? ♦