I'm kind of a chicken-shit. I'm afraid of roaches, moths, slimy things, drowning, lightening, being kidnapped, roller coasters, scary movies, breaking a limb, falling down, roller skating (see: falling down), El Coco (my grandma's equivalent of the Boogie Man), strange noises, mold spores, carbon-monoxide poisoning, lead poisoning, alcohol poisoning, big dogs, medium sized dogs, undercooked chicken, strep throat, and locking my keys in my car.
I also have a lot of fears about staying single, getting into a relationship, having kids, or not having kids. I'm afraid no one will ever love me. I'm afraid that I'll love the wrong person. I'm afraid that I've missed my opportunity to love someone. I'm afraid that I forgot how to love, how to be in a relationship, and how to share my life with someone. I'm afraid that I'll be writing this blog forever, which means I'll be single forever.
I'm afraid I'll fail at love.
A few years ago I read The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz (who also wrote The Four Agreements). In it, he writes about two very important components of our lives: love and fear. He writes that we are born with the natural ability to love but that over time, we learn to be afraid. That fear manifests itself through judgement, disrespect, drama, doubt, guilt, shame, and we learn to be afraid of love. We become so afraid that rather than let love guide our relationships, we let fear guide instead. Every word I read only reinforced what I was afraid of - that I'm too damaged to ever love in a healthy way.
I've written about this before - I know I'm not damaged beyond repair but I'm afraid that I am. I'm afraid to love myself as a single person because if I do, what if the Universe decides that because I've accepted my single-hood, I don't deserve a relationship? I'm afraid to love myself because what if I'm not enough for me? Of course none of this is true, but I'm afraid it is, and really, that's all it takes to make me paralyzed with, well, fear.
The other important component that Ruiz writes is this - we all have the ability to overcome fear if we choose to do so. We all have the ability to choose to love. We have the ability to forgive the past and learn from it in order to love more completely, but we also have the ability to forgive ourselves and mistakes we've made. Sometimes we think we don't deserve love, or that we are un-worthy of love, but nothing could be further from the truth - one of the best things my mom has ever said to me is that regardless of what I've done in my life, I deserve love. Would my mom lie?
Working through my fear has been one of the hardest parts of the last nine months (yes, I've been writing the blog for nine months) and although I'm no longer on strike, I haven't abandoned learning, growing and overcoming the issues that plague me the most, and my fear of being alone is one of my biggest issues. I work on this fear every day and while it's gotten easier, it hasn't completely gone away. I don't have a magic answer for overcoming my fear, but I do know that being conscious of it is the first step toward conquering it.
Just like a relationship is built on trust, I have to trust love in order to be in love. The poet Kahlil Gibran wrote "think not you can direct the course of love, for love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course." When I begin to feel afraid of love, I remember that love is bigger than me, and as long as I give into it, then it will direct my course - which means alone or in a relationship, as long as I have love, then there is nothing to be afraid of.
I'm not sure if I'll ever get over my fear of falling down, but I'm positive I'll get over my fear of falling in love - and staying there once I do.
Next time: Nine months and counting... well, kinda.