I used to always say I was a fearless child, and many used to tell me so, because in many ways I was – but more in the metaphorical or appearing-so sense. I used to hurl myself off cliffs and throw myself down hills on skateboards. I used to be the first up for anything, whether I’d done it before or not. I used to, and still generally do, talk to anyone whether I knew them or not. And I used to do things, responsibility and trauma wise, that meant I danced daily with intense and gut punching fear…just fear of a different kind. A whole different kettle of un-fun fish. But recently when I tell tales of my childhood – mainly the ones involving my obsession with crazy sports – I stop myself saying I was fearless, because I wasn’t. I remember quite clearly being fucking terrified – A LOT – of the fun things and the hideously traumatic things. I felt fear daily, I just had gotten to know it so well it was like a fond friend.
I either continued what I was doing because I was in love with whatever it was and fear was part of it (sports), or I carried on because if I didn’t, something terrible and life ending/changing would happen (trauma & childhood responsibility).
I read this quote this morning and I realised that I was and am, and always will be, brave. There’s a difference. I’ve always been told I’m brave too – a word I’ve heard frequently in my adult life, as well as my childhood too. And now reading this I realise it’s true: I’m not fearless, I’m brave. Being brave is about being able to sit with the fear, look it in the eye, wrap it in your arms, offer it compassion and take it with you…let it whisper in your ear with what it’s trying to teach you, and filter out those bits and compost the rest…or simply punch it in the nuts and carry on regardless.
“And one has to understand that braveness is not the absence of fear but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear.”~
Now fear isn’t in my life so much, I often feel a little lost. I sometimes get an urge for it and drop myself in a scenario where it floods me from all angles (not hard these days) but quickly realise that shit isn’t fun anymore. It’s fucking hideous. Not anywhere in my body, is there a place that enjoys it. Except perhaps a part of my soul and the edge of my spirit. Gone are the days me and fear used to dance arm in arm, and me feel more at home with fear than with anyone else. Gone are the days when the rush of life threatening adrenaline was as good as it gets.
Fear and I broke up for good the day I overdosed, and my god am I glad we did. We’d been dancing around this, knowing it needed to happen. We’d been having ‘relationship chats’ or arguments (my adrenals were mainly in charge of the arguments) for a while before then…but I couldn’t imagine life without it. I’d been beginning to have an affair with comfort, and my gosh was that scary, but also incredibly nice. But I don’t do affairs – I do one or the other, so knew fear had to be dumped. I knew I needed to give comfort a chance.
One day I’m excited to know fear again as the long lost friend it is – diving off cliffs and whizzing down hills – but like any break up, you need to space to heal before you can become friends again. Right now, I’m in a relationship with Comfort and she’s a mighty fine companion to have. Fear has taken a backseat but I have no doubt will show up again…
But just as friends.