Fear and Freedom

“I let go of fear and the peace came quickly.”

-Lea Michele

Personal fears are never something comfortable for us to talk about. We are all not so secretly obsessed with projecting only our best selves and the best part of our lives to the world. We want others to believe that we and our lives are perfect. Because that’s what everyone wants right? To be a perfect person with a perfect life. We don’t want to admit that behind the scenes of our colorful insta-selfies and our fancy Facebook updates, there is personal struggle. We don’t want to acknowledge it to the world, but we all know it’s there. So why don’t we talk about it? Why don’t we share it with one another so that we can relate to and support one another on a whole other level?

FEAR.

We are scared that if we break the status quo of perceived perfection, we will wear the scarlet letter. We are scared that people will judge us or think there is something wrong with us. But there is nothing wrong with being human.

Last night, as I was driving home at 1 o’clock in the morning, life slapped me in the face and told me to wake up. Originally, my break through had nothing to do with today’s topic. In fact, it was an entirely different department of my life. But as I drove home in silence, with only my thoughts on the radio, it all came together for me in a way that was most humbling.

FEAR.

What am I afraid of?

Some days…it feels like absolutely everything. Other days…it feels like absolutely nothing. But most days, I’m afraid of far too much, and it has taken over my life.

As in a previous post, I told you I was afraid of food. That is still true. I’m afraid that if I eat like any other “normal person” I will gain weight. I’m afraid that if I stray from my regular foods, my “safe” foods, I’ll gain weight. I’m afraid that if I lose control in any small way, that I am a failure because I can’t loose the weight. And I’m afraid that if I can’t lose the weight and look a certain way, that people will judge me and not like me.

Which brings me to my next fear…people. I’m afraid of social situations that are out of my comfort zone. This fear is probably the hardest to talk about because it came from years of not fitting in or being included, and that makes me very self conscious. Many people can say social anxiety is all in your head because it often sprouts from a fear of being judged by others, but the pattern of social rejection I’ve experienced throughout my life has made my anxiety very real. I had been fearless for a time. For years I didn’t take any real notice to it. In fact, it has developed quite recently, but it is now very real and very difficult.

Those are my two biggest fears.

For now.

They are the two I wish to talk about in this post because they hold the strongest presence in my life right now.

But…

Did I ever stop to think about and acknowledge these fears before now?

No.

I simply let myself live in them.

I accepted the way I’m living for what it is and didn’t think there was any other way. I came up with excuses for why I am the way I am and why I live the way I live. But why? For what? Because I’m comfortable 90% of the time and uncomfortable the other 10%. So why bother working harder for something potentially better?

Why? Because now that 10% is growing into an overwhelming 50% and I am absolutely miserable.

My fear of food has gotten me no where. In fact, it has prevented me from making any kind of physical progress whatsoever. It has inflicted unecessary stress on my body and my mind. And in turn, it has made me very anti-social. Even more so than I already am due to my fear of people.

My fear of people and social situations has resulted in my not having any new friends. The only few friends I do have are ones I made before the fear took over. My social fear and anxiety has caused me to become incapable of developing any new relationships in general. Because new relationships are not safe. They are unfamiliar and uncomfortable, and those two things do not agree with me.

Both these fears keep me locked up, safe and sound. Which, for a time, is how I preferred it, because I was too afraid to experience anything else. But I’m tired. I’ve had it. I don’t want to be miserable anymore. I don’t want to feel like life is passing me by.

So I posted a STOP sign for myself in the middle of the road and I’m sitting here staring up at it.

For almost the past two weeks I’ve been sitting there staring. Thinking. Working. Trying. But trying to continue forward wasn’t what helped me. It was looking back. When that STOP sign is blocking your view of the future, you have no where to look but back.

Looking back I saw a lively girl, bubbly and fearless. I saw the girl on the color guard strutting around in her glitter and hair extensions. I saw the girl who gutted for the part of Wendla in Spring Awakening because it set her soul on fire. I saw the girl who took photoshoots for fun because she felt beautiful. I saw the girl who told the same jokes on a jungle bote for 8-12 hours a day, but still got excited for work each day. I saw the girl who wanted to go out with her friends every chance she could get. I saw the girl who was social and friendly with every single person around her. I saw the girl who flirted like she had never been hurt in love. I saw the girl who worked out because she LOVED it and ate healthy because it made her feel GOOD. I saw the girl who I used to be, but hadn’t known for quite some time now.

And you know how that made me feel?

Sad.

I loved that girl. And that girl loved herself.

So what went wrong? What had come between us? What prevented me from being that girl again?

FEAR.

She didn’t choose to leave, I chose to shut her out. I chose to replace her with what has been my best friend for way too damn long…

FEAR.

So now you may be wondering…how did this topic even come to mind? Where did this break through sprout from? Why did I choose to go ahead and write this?

Because last night, life threw a lesson my way. After giving advice to a friend last night, I realized how what I was telling them was actually what I needed to learn myself. Last night, a different fear was being conquered. Letting go.

Letting go of who’s not good for you.

And among all my pondering on that topic…I realized that not only do you need to let go of who’s not good for you, but also what’s not good for you.

And among all my thoughts towards what was going on in my life last night, came the thoughts of what has been going on in my life every night.

I needed to let go. Of so many things.

Last night, I gained perspective.

One thought led to another and…

As I was driving home at 1 o’clock in the morning, life slapped me in the face and told me to wake up. Originally, my break through had nothing to do with today’s topic. In fact, it was an entirely different department of my life. But as I drove home in silence, with only my thoughts on the radio, it all came together for me in a way that was most humbling.

“Freedom
I let go of fear and the peace came quickly”

Last night, I finally saw from the outside, how stuck you can get by holding onto something or someone who isn’t good for you.

Seeing it, finally from the other side, left me feeling frustrated, upset, and desperate to help. If only they would let go. If they simply let go, they could finally be happy.

But I felt guilty for thinking it. Because I’ve held on for so long. Is it wrong to have hope? Is it wrong to believe that maybe, if you keep holding on just a little while longer, you’ll finally get what you want and be happy? I couldn’t honestly say that now was the time to let go, because sometimes you need more than a moment.

But I think I’ve finally figured out when you know it’s time to let go…

When that person or that thing, holds you back to the point of not living.

So instead, I gave the advice to go through it. Experience it. Hope for the best. Until… Until your happiness runs out. Because you deserve to be happy.

Don’t miss out on life because you couldn’t let go.

Fear had me at a stand still. Fear was getting me no where.

I had hope. I hoped that isolating myself would help me stay focused on working out and eating clean. I hoped that working out and eating clean would make me skinny. And I hoped that being skinny…would make me happy.

But instead…guess what?

I’M NOT HAPPY.

I’m beyond not happy, I’m not even myself anymore.

So I let go. Of my hope. Of my fear.

And all of a sudden I felt peace. And freedom. And I felt like giving life a chance.

I know this is just a small step in my recovery. The amount of mental damage that has been done over the past couple months cannot magically go away in a night. I know that. But I am feeling so refreshed and so alive. And for now…that’s all I can really ask for.

This blog was…A LOT. It was long, and hard to get through, just like my friendship with fear. But I never want to stop sharing because I want my thoughts and experiences to have an opportunity to help others. This particular experience is proof that one life lesson can easily teach you something about an entirely different struggle than you expected or imagined. So don’t pass by the advice and stories of other so easily. Take what you can from the people in your life and give back just as much.

You never know who needs it. Including yourself.

With love,

Abbie

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One comment

  1. Such an inspiring post. I’ve dealt with fear in so many ways and it’s such a toxic weight to carry within yourself. It’s even worse when you have to undergo the process of releasing it, but it is absolutely worth it!

    Liked by 1 person

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