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The Tyranny of Fear
The Tyranny of Fear
Fear is a strange and powerful emotion; unique in it's ability to move us in seemingly contradictory directions. Fear can rouse us to great feats of courage in the face of real danger, yet paralyze us into inaction in the face of the unknown. Fear makes you sweat; makes your heart race and your stomach ache, but fear can also prevent us from harming ourselves or others. Fear is a necessary emotion, but oh how I have come to loathe fear.
For most of us, I suspect, fear is a constant companion. After all, we have a secret; a secret that we need to protect. We don't know what would happen if our secret ever got out, but "fear" knows. Fear tells us that our families, lovers, and friends would all desert us. Fear tells us that we would lose our jobs and the respect of our peers. Fear tells us that to sacrifice for the sake of harmony is a noble deed. Fear tells us to hang our heads in shame, and fear tells us to keep the secrets of our lives, for no one could ever understand. When we read of other's triumphs over fear, our own fears come on loud and strong to tell us it's just an anomaly; it could never happen for us.
All of my life, I have lived with fear. At first it was a fear of an idea; fear of wearing clothes that weren't intended for me. But the idea persisted, and when it quickly overcame the fear, a new one arose to take its place; what if someone knew? And so the stage was set for a constant battle between my desire for the freedom to be me and the tyranny of fear. Every step forward was met with self-doubt; every small victory was countered with shame. Fear is strong. I kept telling myself that maybe the fear was right. Hey, wasn't the fear right when I was a child and it told me not to swing on that pole? I didn't listen and I got a broken arm for my arrogance. Fear is never wrong.
One terrible day all my fears turned out to be true. Bye bye girlfriend, see ya later career, and hello to pain, shame, guilt, and embarrassment. Ahh, if only I had listened. I gave in; the fear was right. I had arrogantly tempted fate and now my life lay in ruin. Not knowing what to do, I did the only thing I could; I woke up every day, kept breathing, and started working again. Eventually the pain faded and I met someone new. I resolved that this time I wouldn't make the same mistake; this time I would listen. But as I listened intently for fear to tell me what to do, the fearful voice was still. Everything my fears warned me about had come to pass; yet here I was, alive and well. Robbed of it's power, the fear has been replaced by something even more powerful; the yearning to be free. That was 7 years ago and the the desire to be free grows stronger each and every day. A lot of people have helped me overcome the fears, but none so much as my wife, whom I love with all my heart. Every now and again, I still catch myself being temporarily struck with fear, but these days it's more along the lines of, "God, I hope they have that boot in a size 8!"