An Open Letter About (My) Fears

I have ruminated a lot about the infallible human dichotomy. The inescapable contradiction of human nature – that our lives are significantly insignificant. We can have profound impact on other people in our lives, on the world around us. Our everyday decisions dictate what our individual carbon footprint is, our impact on the earth’s increasingly fragile ecosystem. Our words can significantly affect how those around us see the world, see themselves, treat each other and themselves. We have friends and family around us that rely on us in some way, and in turn – are there to be relied upon. We support each other in this life and we each take something form the other – be it positive or negative, moral or financial – we all give and take and have incredible effects on those around us. All of these significant effects are profound, and amazing, and rewarding – yet at the end of our lives the universe is still expanding, the sun is still dying and our lives on this remote planet are just as equally insignificant. It is all in the details, in how we choose to see our lives and our successful and positive impacts and our defeats. It is in how we deal with the lows to better appreciate the highs.
With this in mind I have decided to write an open letter to clear up some confusion about my fears.
My husband and I are very lucky. At the ages of 30 & 31 we were able to choose to quit our jobs to travel for several months and now find ourselves back home in Michigan facing some pretty big decisions. Some small decisions end up making huge impacts on our lives. Choosing to take the job at Circuit City after college instead of the job at Kohl’s (I graduated in 2006 when there were so many college grads flooding the market that most of us were lucky to have a choice of two retail jobs) led to my meeting my split apart whom I have now been happily married to for almost eight years. Some big decisions lead to epic failures or totally quiet and small successes that end up just being a shrug of the shoulders that we just need to move on from to better prepare for the next part of our lives. Right now it feels that we have some big choices to make. We need to decide where we want to be, what city, what state, what country. We need to settle on and decide to invest in one of the many passions we have and open a business. Our goal is ultimately to be able to work for ourselves and to work together. That’s it. We’ve had two jobs in our eight years where we worked together and we were happy to see each other throughout the day, we were happy to drive in to work and home together. But ultimately – we have decided that money is not everything, and working together for someone else, in a job that we find unfulfilling will not make us happy. We want to be happy and that will only come when we are working together in our own business or businesses.
In our pursuit to sort out our thoughts and clarify what our choices are over the past month or so, we have enlisted the help of my father. He is a realtor and we figured we could seek some real estate advice from him. It has not been so successful. I have had a trying relationship at times with him. I have come to recognize that we are both equally at fault for the trying part of the relationship. Every relationship is made of equal measures – each person puts in fifty percent – it is always fifty percent – it’s just what each person puts in that can make it feel like such a burden or such a blessing. It may have been a mistake to ask him for help and to entrust him with our secret little planning – but in reality it has kind of turned out exactly as we expected it would so maybe we never allowed it to be anything but a mistake in choosing to enlist his help and seek his advice since we knew what we were getting into. Say la vie. I’m over it. However, today we picked him up from the the airport after a two week stint down in Florida to celebrate his 70th birthday and to get away from the gray Michigan winter. We housesat for him for 16 days, cared for his dog and cat and cleared feet of snow from his ridiculously long driveway. On the way back he treated us to lunch and brought up the same old conversation/lecture on how we just need to decide on something and do it and stop letting fear intercede. It is difficult at this point in my life to go too deeply into anything with him because it always ends with miscommunication, frustration and annoyance for both parties. It has gotten better a I have become clearer about my message and stronger in my delivery of it, but still, sitting at a busy bar on a Sunday afternoon whilst watching golf did not feel like the best of times to have a deep discussion about fear.
I hear this from him all the time. He’s my fear monger – the person in my life that keeps reminding me that I might be afraid of something. Stop letting fear over rule me, stop letting fear in, it’s always going to be there, just get over it. What is frustrating is that I just don’t think he gets that every single one of us deals with different fears. I do not share his fears. Maybe on a large scale, sure, but I genuinely believe there are very few people on this significantly large planet that share the same driving fears. Not the fears of spiders or birds or bees or sharks. Not even the fear of death. Those are overarching phobias that we each have with weird stories of where they originated and rarely affect us on a day to day basis. I’m talking the fears that drive us to succeed and keep us from it. Those big driving fears are just so dependent on who we are, what we want to be, what we don’t want to be and where we have come from. I am extremely fortunate to have never had to fear hunger, or if I would have a safe place to sleep at night, or if my mother or I would be subjected to unmentionable horrors because we were women born in the wrong part of the world at the wrong time. My driving fears come from my genetic make up. The chemical firings and misfirings that lead me to be a manic depressive. Sometimes I am terrified that I am destined to commit suicide like my Uncle Larry did – he was my father’s closest and younger brother. Sometimes I am terrified that I will live forever but be cursed with this sometimes debilitating and crushing and defeating depression. But these are not really my driving fears. So in order to avoid any future misunderstandings; let’s clear up what it is that I am afraid of exactly. At least for now. And these are as succinct as I can make them. Which is ridiculous.
I am afraid of being undeserving. That I don’t deserve the happiness that has come my way, that I have created, that I am lucky enough to have.
I am afraid that I don’t deserve my husband – he is good, and loving and accepting – and I fear that I don’t deserve him.
I am afraid that my fear of being undeserving will become a self fulfilling prophecy, that my happiness will go away because it too agrees that I don’t deserve it anymore.
I am afraid of losing my passion and my spark and my creativity to the black abyss of depression.
I am afraid of losing my compassion and empathy for all living beings (humans and otherwise).
I am afraid of my own head and getting lost in it.
I am afraid of slipping into an easy life with a steady job and good pay. I am afraid of just surviving and not living.
I am afraid of never having the guts to say this to my dad or my mom or anyone who really matters in my life because none of us ever have enough time on this earth to say everything we need to.
Advertisements

Day Thirty Four

fears

So today I compiled a list of my greatest fears. I don’t like spiders, speaking in public or touching gross bumpy things. None of these are on the list. Admittedly the list is a work in progress – but seeing some of my darkest fears typed out in front of me is a bit harrowing.

Seeing how irrational some of them are is a bit hilarious.

Reading them makes me want to conquer them. Conquer is a bit of a ridiculous word in this situation – but I don’t want to “work through them” – that just sounds laborious. Conquer feels fast, strong, fun. Game of Thrones style – I’m going to direwolf this shit.

This week has been a rough one – too much time to think – not enough time to do anything about it.

Day Twenty Five

kresge

As a follow up, or summary thought, to some of my pontificating yesterday; I would like to simply state the following. I think a place, a person, a thing, can all hold extremely negative energy if we let it. Sometimes it is so hard to not let the negative energy get to us, that it is no longer worth trying to be around that place, person or thing. The energy put into forgiving is simply wasted. Perhaps, it is better to just let go and move on in those cases.

And now for more exciting things. I have determined that since yesterday ended on a bit of a bitter note; today will end a little sweeter. I would like to make my first list of things I will miss when we move. Things I love about living around Detroit. It is a great city after all. And this list will include no people – obviously there is a long list of people – but let’s not get too personal. We will stick to things and places that are important to me. And since this is a first list I am limiting it to the tip-pity-top.

1. The Detroit Institute of Arts: I have been going here as long as I can remember. My dad always took me down there for special exhibits, to browse the galleries and enjoy a snack in the incomparable Kresge Court. I have always wanted to live in Kresge Court. There’s this amazing Bill Rauhauser photograph of a woman sitting in Kresge Court in the 1960s smoking a cigarette and looking absolutely, perfectly unhappy, bored, beautiful. Needless to say I want to be her when I live in Kresge Court. I can then write a book about my adventures while living as a stow away in the best art museum on the planet – hands down.

2. The Growing Small Business Scene: Made in Detroit is coming back. And I’m not talking that stupid Kid Rock line – thats a little too trailer for me. I’m talking Shinola watches, bikes and leather goods. I’m talking street wear labels like The Handsome Fox, Burn Rubber Detroit and The Dirt Label. Bad ass home furnishings by Rail & Anchor and Scout that support local companies and artists as well as major designers.

3. The Burgeoning Hipster Vegan/Beverage Scene: There are some seriously delicious and shady vegan-friendly places popping up all around the city. From Seva, to Detroit Vegan Soul Food and PJ’s Lager House (where I totally used to underage drink about ten $1 PBRs a night). There is Avalon Bakery, Great Lakes Coffee Company and the ever refreshing Majestic Complex eateries the Majestic Cafe and good old Sgt. Pepperoni’s. Oh man I almost forgot Traffic Jam & Snug and the Motor City Brewing Works, MiChigo Pizza and The WAB. So many amazing eateries, so little time.

4. The Michigan Renaissance Festival: yes, I know this is super cheesy. I don’t dress up – anymore – but again, I have been going to this since forever and I love it and I will miss it. There are some performers who have been there every year since I started going there forever ago and I will miss them. It is just good old cheesy, classic fun.

5. Tigers Games: I am not, as a rule, terribly fond of baseball. But there is just something about going to Comerica Park and enjoying a night game in the middle of summer that is just magical. Detroit is a great sports city, with somewhat douche-y fans, but they all love their teams. I never get to enjoy a cold beer and Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade at the same time – except Tigers games in the summer. And it is a delicious combo indeed.

I am greatly looking forward to our big move, but I will miss these things. And someday when I visit family and friends, my love and I will sneak into the DIA Royal Tenenbaum styles and sleep in an air vent in Kresge Court and we will be happy little bees. Look for my memoirs.

Day Twelve

tarot

Today our niece turned four. Time is slipping by so quickly.

We really need to focus on our future and living how we want to live. One of my favorite mantras lately is the opening lines to Primal Scream’s Loaded. It just loops through my head sometimes. Today’s first is starting my bucket list. It begins with locations around the world that I want to live at some point in my life. Anywhere in Japan, London, Paris, an island somewhere, New Zealand. Taking trips and taking family on trips around the world. Taking our nieces to Disney World for their first time, taking them everywhere and showing them everything. I want to learn about so much. I want to learn languages, how to read the tarot, archery, any mma or tae know do.

I have so much living to do it’s kind of intimidating; but that’s the best part. Now I just need to start.

“Just what is it that you want to do?

We wanna be free

We wanna be free to do what we wanna do

And we wanna get loaded

And we wanna have a good time

That’s what we’re gonna do”

Day Eleven

fearful trees

Happy National Beer/World Health Day! Awesome. The best part is that National Beer Day has been unofficially celebrated since 1933 – World Health Day came around in 1948. Just sayin. We will be cheers-ing National Beer/World Health Day with a couple of tall boys while we watch The World’s End and burn some calories laughing. It’s gonna be good.

Day Eleven and I am worried that my firsts are pretty weak. Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy that I am consciously making an effort to read up on new-to-me topics, plan and get excited for events, and most especially to push to see myself and others differently. It’s just – shouldn’t I be skydiving or taking public speaking classes or something? I don’t know.

Today I made my first serious attempt at taking on the fears that cripple me sometimes. I made a long, long list of the fears I have. Some I’m sure I forgot, others I have simply not even recognized yet. I want to add to the list when I think to – but mostly I want to recognize that I have these fears and work through them. Fears of being a disappointment in work, marriage, family. Fears of my body image, how others see and hear me, how I feel like I have no qualifications whatsoever. Some are so utterly ridiculous it’s crazy – yet knowing this does not stop the fear.

There are so many affirmations, quotes and mantras out there about fear and conquering it; but honestly – the wiki article is much more intriguing then any of these. Fear is an emotion induced by a threat perceived by living entities, which causes a change in brain and organ function and ultimately a change in behavior, such as running away, hiding or freezing from traumatic events. Because fear is more complex then just forgetting or deleting memories,  an active and successful approach {to overcoming fear} involves people repeatedly confronting their fears. By confronting their fears – in a safe manner – a person can suppress the fear-triggering memory or stimulus. 

Every day some of my fears will resurface, they will persist, they will drain my excitement and confidence as I endeavor to recreate myself. I just need to keep telling them to eff off. I will shine a light in the dark.