5.10.07

Fearful Peoples Anonymous


Neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.
Bertrand Russell
(1872-1970)


Well, back to the regular everyday of life. The booth is down, my laundry patiently waits to be folded. No matter how badly I neglect it it always waits faithfully for me until I can attend to it, like a dog that follows you home and refuses to leave. A half sewn pinafore sits at the table for a birthday gift tomorrow. Three year olds dressed as princesses, it doesn't get any cuter than that.

I had three things on my mind today to blog about. The first was the arrival of the pretty, pretty, pretty, stroller. I love it, I took pictures. The second was idiot drivers who don't look for pedestrians before making right turns, or left turns. I am that woman standing in the middle of a cross walk and yelling at the drivers while pulling up suddenly to keep the person who tries to sneak his turn in before we're across from taking out the front of the stroller. Only today it happened at least five times, there is no describing how angry that makes me without lapsing into obscenities. Then I saw the quote above over at Blog Antagonist's and it's number 3 that you will hear about in depth.

You see I have an acquaintance, I'd say friend but she won't accept my friendship and holds me, and others, at arms length, who is afraid. Perpetually. Today she has made a choice that I think is harmful to her, but not only to her but to the others around her that I care about. A choice like this is never made in isolation but draws into itself everyone that she is relationship with. When your choices are motivated by fear, you often choose poorly, and selfishly.

The thing about fear is that it hides so well in other guises. If you met this person I am talking about you wouldn't walk away thinking to yourself, "Wow, it must be awful to be that terrified." In fact, you might think they were quite normal, a little obsessive perhaps, but normal. You might think to yourself something like, "What the heck? Why is she making such a big deal about the chicken? or the tape, or the muddy shoes on the front doorstep, or the visit of a spouse to see an old friend. That seems a little....off." You may wonder what the deal is, but you may not realize that that person is perpetually terrified. That person themselves doesn't usually realize it either.

It seems perfectly reasonable to them to get upset over someone taking their tape and acting silly and not giving it back right away but teasing them about it. They will tell themselves that what the other person was doing was wrong and disrespectful and irritating and so their reaction of throwing a full blown screaming fit, or bursting into tears, or, or, or, was perfectly acceptable. They don't realize that every one else is looking at them like they are a freak.

Or they may burst into tears and feel miserable and sick for three days because there was a change in plans during a trip, and they have to stay somewhere different, somewhere other than where they planned. Sometimes this sort of thing will cause panic attacks.

They will cling to people they are in relationships with, reacting with inappropriate jealousy when a loved one does something without them, or starts to grow in an area that they had been weak, or changes at all for better or worse. They will stifle and cling and come close to destroying the people around them in an effort to always have them near, always at their beck and call, always taking care of them. This is what it is to live a life of fear.

How would I know this about this other person of whom I speak? Well, it takes one to know one. I have walked far more than a mile in those shoes. It's an awful way to be, or to live.

I will be forever grateful to the woman who brought me through the worst of my journey into freedom. She was a good guide because she had been where I found myself. You see, when you are afraid, you don't know who to trust, what to believe, or what to do. You perspective is completely skewed. You can not make a sane decision when you are afraid, all of your actions will simply be instinctive reactions against a danger you perceive or a pain that you want to avoid and you can not be rational. Oh you can pretend to be rational, you can think that you are rational, you can even sound rational sometimes about many subjects, but when it comes right down to it, you are a bit crazy and you need help.

The places that hold you captive are the places you usually retreat to when you are afraid. They are instinctive behaviors that you believe will protect you and now you can't escape from. Like controlling every detail of every aspect of your life, all of the time. The thing is, you can't do it, especially if there are other people involved, and it's exhausting. When something goes wrong the whole artificial construct that is your sense of safety collapses, and you are left naked and shivering, cowering in terror at the reality that is life around you.

It's messed up. I know. I used to spend my life carefully constructing events to avoid having to deal with reality and my own sense of helplessness at things that are larger and more frightening than I.

The only way to escape those places is to stop going to them. Like paths in a field, they disappear if you stop traveling them, but it's very hard to do without help, without someone else who understands pulling you through. There were days, months even, when the best choice I could make was to do nothing at all. I couldn't let my self do what I usually do to cope, because that was a fear response, but I didn't know what else to do, and so I would sit, on my hands sometimes, and wait, and pray, and repeat, "I trust God, I want to any way, I choose to, oh bother, HELP!" until it passed and I could see more clearly what should be done to reverse things. I know how hard, and lonely, and afraid this person must be feeling most of the time. And I know that they have no idea that they are driving away the people they most want to have near, and that they love. I know they don't understand why every one is starting to hate them for being so small, and I know they don't think they have a choice about how they are behaving. I also know that most of the people around them have no understanding of what this person is going through that causes them to behave so selfishly.

And since, at this point, this person is not even ready to admit that they have a problem to me, let alone let me help, I'm talking to the internet instead. Hello, internet. Perhaps us formerly living in fear people ought to form a support group too, so that we can start to do interventions.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them...There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. (1 John 4:16, 18)

3 comments:

  1. Michele C9:28 AM

    OMG..I was linked to your site by accident and read today's post and said this is so me. I am on my way out of living in fear, you truly hit home. I struggle with some of the issues you posted to this day...pushing people away, acting touchy for small things. Just want to say thanks for a moment of feeling someone could actually relate...someone else has been there and there is a light at the end of this tunnel...

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  2. Excellent, excellent post. So much truth.

    One of my favorite Bible teachers talks about people having two basic personality structure - anger or fear. I am a fearful one and come from a long line of fearful. One of the purposes of life I hope to fulfill is to live in freedom from fear so as not to raise my girls up in that bondage. Again, great post!

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  3. Michele C7:25 PM

    OMG..I was linked to your site by accident and read today's post and said this is so me. I am on my way out of living in fear, you truly hit home. I struggle with some of the issues you posted to this day...pushing people away, acting touchy for small things. Just want to say thanks for a moment of feeling someone could actually relate...someone else has been there and there is a light at the end of this tunnel...

    ReplyDelete

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