Rise Above Fear
The year 2018 felt like living through a beating. I’ve lived a relatively short life, and I’ve reinvented myself a few times. This year, I felt like I had to do it again. Now that the dust has settled and more things feel like they’re in place, I am grateful for the upheaval, for the change, for the challenge. But I am also glad that 2018 is over.
In 2018 I again confronted my least favorite wrestling partner, fear. It’s been my wrestling partner for a very long time, stuck to me like an unwanted, annoying passenger on a very long car trip. I’ve turned up the music to ignore it. I’ve taken scenic routes. I’ve eaten a lot of junk food, but it never goes away and it’s never easily forgotten. Last year brought more awareness of its presence in heaps and bounds. The world often felt like it was on fire. Neighbors were at war. The nation was locked in an ideological debate. Everything felt like a struggle for survival. And it made me very sad as I grieved a sense of stability. I know many of my clients felt the same.
Today, I wrestled with it again. I managed to ignore it over the holidays. I found rest and respite with the people I love, but, upon returning to work, my familiar friend knocked on the doors of my heart. For me, fear often takes the form of self-doubt. I wonder if I’ve made the right choices for my work. I sometimes repeat things I’ve said in session, wondering if I could have helped somebody better or differently. I wonder if I’m too this or not enough that. I also fear, most of all, that I will be abandoned by those who love me again and again, unable to find my footing in life because I made too many mistakes and the world was too harsh to show me grace.
It’s a bleak voice to say the least.
But when wrestling with fear today, I squared my shoulders and said to nothing in particular, “This year is the year I rise above fear.” It’s a simple statement with no real meaning other than it helped me remember that in 2018 I proved to myself that love sooths fear. It doesn’t conquer it. It doesn’t banish it. It doesn’t even disagree with it. It just does what love always does; it listens. It learns. It hugs. And it makes us all a little better.
There are many things to fear. Fear reminds us that anything could go wrong, many things do go wrong. There are a lot of things already wrong, and it’s our job to do our best to fix them. But, if given too much room and too little love, fear will linger, restricting our ability to think clearly about solutions, to trust ourselves with action plans worth taking, knowing that no matter what happens, with those we love, we can do whatever is necessary to survive.
2019 is a year to commit to love’s solution. Self-love soothes fear by reminding us of our capabilities. We are capable of survival at the very least and sometimes capable of brilliant things. When we love others, we remind ourselves that we, like them, are not perfect, but imperfetion does not doom us to solitude. When we receive love from others, we can be reminded that we are loveable, worthy, not alone in our struggle to be free.
If, for some reason, love is missing, I hope it finds you this year. I hope you open yourself to it, that you change your life to turn towards it, that you say to whatever form fear takes for you that it will not stop you from loving yourself at least. Because even though it doesn’t solve anything, love is good at replacing insecurity with the certainty that, no matter what, we’ll find a way to love more.