The problem with my fear is that I don’t notice it’s fear.
With other people, fear might actually be a feeling. Fear might be thoughts that tell them they’re not good enough or that they’re worthy or that they suck. Fear might be doubt and worry and dismay.
For me, fear is immobilizing, a numbed out, anesthetized feeling that I mistake for “content,” if content means “no immediate problems.” Most of the time, fear creeps into me so easily that I don’t notice it’s even there.
Before I wrote my last post, I binged. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it was because I had gone home from yoga and my plans with a friend fell through and I decided to turn on my computer and get sucked into an endless warp of not doing anything.
Maybe it was because of fear. Maybe it was all because of fear– the plans falling through, the brain-sucking.
Maybe it was because after I started doing bikram, I felt great. I felt good about my body, in my body. I felt good about life. I felt good emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I felt grounded and mindful and aware.
And so I started sabotaging myself.
Actually, let me correct that: Fear started sabotaging me.
I truly believe that fear is the opposite of love, and since we are love, fear is really not a part of us. When we hate ourselves, it’s fear. When we hurt ourselves, it’s fear.
The good thing about fear is that it’s not the real us.
The bad thing, for me, is that I don’t notice fear when it comes in, slinking in through the backdoor.
The next day, Friday, I woke up later than I had in a while and felt hung over. I had a class at 4:30, which meant that I had to leave by 4, which meant that I had to start doing laundry by 2 so I would have a clean towel for class.
I started doing laundry at 2:30. I started binging. I skipped my class. I spent the rest of the day alternately binging and feeling inspired.
The next day. Woke up around my usual time. Meditated for 20 minutes, but felt like it did nothing.
I felt “okay.” No problems means content, right? Absence of despair means happy, right?
I had to get out of the house. So I did. To binge.
(Not the Gorillaz song.)
And I started to feel terrible. I started to– I realized later– not love myself. I didn’t know what was wrong or why I was binging. I just knew that this was the worst day I’d had in a really long time, worst not because of the binge but because of how I felt. And still, I felt better than I did in my worst days when depressed and eating disordered.
But it was still pretty terrible.
I felt bad. Bad about the fact that none of my friends were around, that I had nothing to do, that I was binging, that I was sabotaging myself again and again to not go to yoga.
What was I trying to prove, by pretending to be strong? Really, I am strong and I know that– but I was pretending to be strong by not choosing alternatives, by not realizing that I could have done differently, that I could have reached out. Pretending to be strong by thinking, “I have to be able to live with this undesirable life situation right now, even though I could change it.”
Feinting strong. Faking strong. Dummy strong.
There’s always a choice. So later, the friend who was going to move in with at the end of August came over, and I made my decision: I was going to move in with her that very day, move as much of the essentials (a few books, clothes, recycled-plastic toothbrush, and me) as I could that night, and not relegate myself to the lonely, desperate isolation I was drowning in because I thought it proved that I could be strong.
No; real strength lies in letting go, releasing, and doing what’s easy.
Life doesn’t have to be hard. You can let go. Let go of that job, that relationship, that family member, whatever isn’t working for you.
You have the choice. Struggling like a fish out of water is not going to make you any stronger. It is not going to give you any extra credit in life to feel like life sucks even when there’s another path.
But this post is about fear. And I haven’t even addressed that yet.
It was yesterday when I was considering going to a meetup at a vegan restaurant to hang out with Philip McCluskey, someone I really look up to not just in the raw vegan world but among all the beautiful people in this world. (See this video for a taste.) He was in Sandy Eggo for a day or two, and this was my chance to meet him.
And I started making excuses. Well, maybe I should just stay at home and do some writing. Well, I can’t find my wallet and that means I won’t have fruit from the farmer’s market this week, so maybe I should just not go out. Well, I feel weird physically [after all those binges]. Well, I haven’t washed my hair in three days, I won’t look good in a photo with him.
And that’s when it hit me.
When I did bikram yoga for the first time, I felt amazing in myself, my body, my spirit. I felt really good.
And somewhere deep down in some part of me, fear was telling me:
How dare you feel this good in your body?
How dare you do what makes you feel healthy?
How dare you think you can really love your body after all these years?
How dare you?
Except fear knows that, in my recovery and journey of loving myself, I’ve learned to be very, very aware of that type of negative self-talk, and thankfully haven’t suffered from it in over two years.
So instead, it immobilized me. It froze me, made me unable to move, literally. It made me binge and feel like crap and make excuses, any excuse, not to go to yoga.
The yoga isn’t the real thing here. The real “thing” is whatever makes me feel good. Whatever makes me feel like I’m growing positively.
I was starting to get into the nitty-gritty of my emotional binging last week, really examining myself and letting go and feeling my feelings, when I started binging again. I hadn’t binged in almost two weeks, which is probably a record for me in 2011.
I was starting to feel more amazing than I’d ever had in my body after I started bikram yoga, when I started binging and feeling like crap again.
Fear brings out all the stops right before an amazing transformation. Fear brings it all out right before you’re on the verge of learning to love yourself, feeling good in your body, letting go of a relationship that’s not working for you, moving somewhere, changing your job, going back to school, starting a good habit, breaking an addiction…
Fear didn’t bring me down this time. It never will, because I’ll never give up.
I have to pull out all I’ve got, all the love for myself and for the world and for life in me, and simply, do my best.
That’s all it takes to defeat fear.
Loving yourself as much as you can and doing your best.