The other week I wrote on how fear ruined my life.
The shockwaves from trauma and fear echo throughout time. Today (& everyday hereafter) I live with little fears and hidden triggers. They are the most frustrating and devastating moments of my life and there are times when I must deal with on a daily basis. Little Fears are different than Big Fear. When I think of “the Big Fear” I think of this huge looming presence that kept me on edge and distinctly aware of each movement, each word and I had to think of every possible scenario in order to avoid danger. To me, it was like playing hide and go seek as a child, I would hide, barely breathe in order to not give my position away so my playmates couldn’t find me. I usually hid so well they gave up. As an adult, this game of hide and seek lasted a decade. A decade of physical, emotional and mental torment thanks to that Big Fear. Big Fear took away my autonomy, my independence, it stole my personality, it broke my heart and soul, it brainwashed me, it consumed me emotionally, physically, financially, it was a monster at an all you can eat buffet & it kept coming back for more helpings.
Little fears are like gremlins that have multiplied and are hiding all over my life. They are the shoulder I am constantly looking over. They are the moments where I’m frozen in place, holding my breath watching intently at something or someone in the distance. They are the reason I am not sleeping because each time I hear someone walking outside or a certain motor passing by I wake up, holding my breath, listening, creeping out of my warm bed to check the doors and windows to make sure they are locked, craning my neck down the street struggling to see if Big Fear is testing for weakness. They are the moments where I jump if someone moves an arm or hand a certain way. They are the shiver I feel on the inside when someone has a certain look cross their face, body tensing in anticipation.
They are the constant wariness one feels, like a doe in the wild, their head popping up at each sound to assess their surroundings for danger, a reason to start running. Most times it is nothing and they go back to grazing. Other times the danger is real and they take off running for their lives. I never know where these little gremlins lurk, I have found them as random men riding their bikes who come upon me unexpectedly or they make a certain sound. I have found them hidden in words, gestures, a look and some springing unexpectedly from the depth of my own thoughts to attack me, sending me into a state of panic. Wildly trying to escape a danger that isn’t there.
They catch me unawares until I learn them. There are some fears that are as simple to figure out as cutting a single wire. Others I have found as complex as a booby trap out of an Indiana Jones Movie and navigating that fear is time-consuming and seemingly impossible. As I learn each one’s name, its nature and how that fear is triggered I defuse that ticking time bomb.
When I learn their name, much like Rumpelstiltskin, it loses its power and control over me as I am able to identify it by sight or sensation, eventually from a distance, and one day it ceases to exist. Others are more elusive and I am unable to see or hear them coming no matter what I do to try & anticipate their arrival, much like Big Fear they are entirely unpredictable. With therapy & hopefully in time I will learn what to do with the most stubborn & persistent of the little fears.
As a friend told me, there will be days, even forty years down the line where I will still find myself battling these little fears buried so deeply. She told me that it will be okay, I will be okay and the fact that they still show up no matter how much time passes is okay. I will persevere, endure & survive just as I have all these years.