The Ugliness of Fear

Fear is an ugly emotion.

Fear is a shriveled, cowardly hag who lurks in a dark and smelly cave. The Hag is paranoid, hateful and angry. She lashes out believing that this will somehow make things better. Lashing out makes her feel powerful; a false bravado with a puffed out chest that lasts for all of about five minutes before it deflates into something even more shriveled  and weak than before.

The Hag has been hanging around a lot in the last few weeks…really, since returning from vacation. The reality of everything has set in and the list of things to be afraid of is long. I’ve been trying to fight it, but damn, it’s not easy.

CBG told me this weekend that these past few weeks that I’ve reminded him of the person that I was when we first got together: fearful of everything that could potentially go wrong with us.

And he’s right. I’ve been feeling a lot like that person lately. Small and scared. Not exactly the bad-ass that I’ve been working toward, that’s for sure. My response to all of this fear and small-ish-ness (yes, that’s totally a word, never mind, moving on…) is to don my cactus suit and turn into a raging bitch. I feel it, too. I walk around with dark cloud around me, basically waiting for an excuse to open up a can of whoop-ass on someone. And you all know what happens when you’re in a relationship: said can of whoop-ass almost always gets opened up on the one that you love; the one person who least of all deserves to feel your wrath.

God, I can be such a terrific girlfriend sometimes.

Change often triggers the fear-response in me. I guess I am less flexible than I would like to believe I am. I gravitate more towards predictability and sameness, even if I don’t particularly like the sameness. Like with our long distance relationship. Sure, I don’t necessarily like it, but it has become familiar and predictable. We’ve been doing this for three and a half years now. I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is something that we can do, and do well.

And to be honest, as much as this makes me sound like a bit of an asshole, there are things about it that I actually like. I love that “reunion feeling” every other weekend. I like having our “just us” weekends where we can basically put the real world on hold for a little while to just enjoy being together. I like having quiet mornings to myself when the girls are with their dad and I’m all on my own. There are nights when I’m grateful to be curling up in bed alone. Sometimes I like having popcorn for dinner because it’s just me. I like that I can make plans for myself on my “off” nights without having to check in with someone else first.

This is the first time in my life that I’ve had true independence, and I actually like it more than I ever thought that I would.

Which leads The Hag to question if I’m really suited for co-habitation or if I’m better off alone. I feel almost set in my ways…like an old spinster who has lived alone for too long. Logically I know that this is utter hogwash and that this set-in-my-way-ness is likely more due to necessity than for the pure love of it. I’ve known for a while now that this long distance relationship would carry on for a good long while; I couldn’t spend years fighting against it, and so I guess that I learned to embrace it and love many aspects of it. Perhaps a little too well.

I guess what it all boils down to right now is that The Hag is getting too big for her britches. Someone needs to bitch-slap her back into her cave where she can cook up something new to fret about. I know it’s gotta be me that does it, but damn, I just don’t seem to have it in me these days. But still…I know that I somehow, somewhere, I have to find the strength to do it.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” ~ Mark Twain


4 Responses

  1. I linked to your “cactus suit” post last week one of several posts where I’m writing about the same “Hag”.

    You speak the truth, my Canadian sister. Everything you’ve written here and expressed about how you’re acting is exactly where I am right now too. We’re not even moving in together so I’m fighting whether or not I really want that… and he’s convinced I’m going to pull the plug at any moment because I can’t seem to define what I want.

    LDR’s are a bitch. But at the same time, I can also understand the love affair with independence as well.

    The thing is… independence is safe. Will you guys face more challenges when you’re together every day? Sure you will! But you’ll be facing them TOGETHER instead of apart. The biggest challenge, for you and for me when/if I choose to cohabitate, is to be able to respect your independence instead of giving up on it. I have no doubt that if you needed space, CBG would allow that. I think you know that too. But maybe that’s what’s so scary. Would YOU allow it?

    Right there with you. Stare it down, dance with it, sit with it… either way, acknowledge that it’s there and hopefully allow it to disappear.


  2. As T said, independence is safe, isn’t it? Something I never thought I’d say or agree with, but when I was living alone for two years, it went from feeling scary and the LEAST safe thing I’d ever done, to the most. I cherished it, I was very set in my ways. I worried about many of these very things (lesser for me given I do not have children so there is less change to worry about there) when M and I moved in together. And even after a few months of growing pains, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I know fear is pushing you into fight/flight and into ‘other shoe to drop’ mode, but I know that once change starts to happen, the fear will be released, the anticipation will turn to excitement and you’ll start a whole new level of growth, change, and happiness. I promise.

  3. I think maybe part of this fear rising is that you’re looking at your current situation and thinking about your future cohabitation situation and thinking it has to be all or nothing going forward. That you can never have your own “me” nights, that you can never “shut out the world” together again because you’ve lost that right now that you live together, that you have to change who you’ve evolved into, this person who loves her independent side. But that’s not the case — you can still have snippets of your current “life” while merging your current life with new “life habits” if you will. Still have those “me” nights now and then. Still have those weekends where you do NOT apologize for your relationship by investing in it that weekend, ignoring everyone and everything else (we do this often, and I never apologize for it, sorry I’m not sorry people, my relationship is very important to me!). Just look forward to finding a way to merge that new life with snippets of your old and that fear will subside. Some change is good, some change is more of a progression but all of it will be worth it in the end. Truly. (man I hope this comment makes sense, I’m so rambly tonight!)

  4. It really is just so nice to see that I’m not the only one going thru these things. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one. And it’s really opened my eyes to some things I didn’t even realize about myself. Thank you for being you and helping me to figure out me!

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