It stops whatever you’re doing, dries up your desire and want and motivation, throws cold water on your dreams.
It rises up from your belly to your throat and makes you instantly, with every molecule of your body, heart, and mind, want to control everything around you.
It makes you doubt yourself.
It makes you doubt the intentions of life – as though life has turned from your loving friend with infinite possibilities to your enemy, blocking you at every move you even begin to make.
In “A Course In Miracles” – we don’t talk so much about the “Love Track and the Fear Track” – we talk about:
Everything is either Love – or a Call for Love.
And yet – my Call for Love feels mightily like FEAR.
Now…as I began writing this, and wrote the sentence above, that my Call for Love feels like Fear – I got the urge to ask myself: “And what exactly is fear, to me?”
I came up immediately with “fear of death, fear of pain, fear of illness, fear of no safety….”
Everything I came up with seemingly had nothing to do with Love.
In other words, I seem to be less afraid of not having love as I’m afraid of pain and physical danger.
So – I ask myself – where does that come from?
And, of course, the answer is: Nowhere real.
It comes from my experience. It comes from the molecules of my body that were impacted by my experience – and they never forgot.
It comes from pictures held in the cells of my body.
It comes from nerve pathways where “A” happens, and then automatically triggers “B.”
I’m like a trip wire.
I’m like a set of explosives – and everything around me is a match.
I am on autopilot.
I react so fast – I can’t even tell what “thought” or “belief” set off the reaction.
For some women – a man simply smiling at them can set all this in motion.
For some – it takes a deeper scare.
When you know that most women have been filled with explosives and their triggers in the cells of their being – through abuse as children, abuse as adults, accidents, catastrophes, words hurled at them, physical calamity, illness…so many possibilities here…it’s amazing to consider that any one of us is more in a state of “healing” than in a state of “distress.”
Some of us deal with fear by holing up, stuffing down, sticking ourselves somewhere and staying stuck, shutting down, closing off, and running – physically and emotionally…
Some of us deal with fear by going into it – jumping off cliffs with fabric wings or skateboards, wire-walking across canyons, riding bikes and skiing over hills and through the air at death-defying speed, sleeping with men who seem dangerous…
How did YOU learn to deal with your fear? How did YOU learn to “Call for love?’
I learned the first example:
Shut down, clam up, close down, hide myself, and do everything I could mentally figure out to get people’s (and men’s – but this includes ALL people) approval. Approval would do if I couldn’t get love and affection. Sometimes even just being in the same room counted as approval. Having sex with me counted as approval. And all this was in the name of some kind of imagined “safety.”
If I could get this “approval” – then I would be safe.
Only thing is – I never, ever knew: from WHAT would I be safe?
I just kept following the track I’d always followed.
My mother and father enforced this daily, fearing their own fears while they parented me, reminding me that safety was “all.”
My standards were low.
And I also learned that in order to focus on safety and approval (in the form of love, affection and tenderness, if I could get that) – I had to control everything around me.
And this is the thing about fear, no matter how it shows up for you, or how you deal with it – running, attacking, just freezing in place, numb to it all: In order to deal with fear at all – you have to control everything around you.
*You have to “prepare” for every contingency so fear doesn’t grab you.
*You have to watch everything you say and do so you don’t accidentally trip the fear wire inside you.
*You have to watch everything everyone ELSE says and does – so THEY don’t accidentally (or on purpose, because that’s what relationships are for – tripping the wires) trip the fear wire inside you.
And the really icky part of this is – there’s so MUCH to actually trip the fear wire in this world! And every day, we’re reminded of pain. someone, somewhere is experiencing intense pain, and it is but the grace of God that I do not feel that today.
So – the natural progression here, for me, is to my relationship to God, or to what I don’t know, or to what is out there just over the hill in the open road.
This relationship is then structured EXACTLY like all my other experience-driven coping strategies (the things that show up first): Get approval. Get approval, love, affection. Get SAFETY. Get LOVE.
If I’m calling for love – what’s happening?
If I’m calling for something – I clearly don’t believe I have it.
That’s not so tragic or difficult if it’s a car I call for, or a house, or a pancake maker, or new shoes.
But when it’s the basics of life (love, affection, tenderness, feeling heard, feeling worthy and seeing that reflected back in someone else’s opinion, shelter, food, emotional and physical safety), it’s easy to spend your entire lifespan – every waking minute (and the ones asleep, too) trying to get it, working for it, calling for it.
And so we grab onto one man, go through the same experience of trying, wanting, controlling, losing, feeling empty. We do it over and over again – because that’s all we know.
We don’t have, so we’re always calling.
Fear not only grabs you: It makes you grab.
Undoing this system, this protocol, this procedural we all have going like a computer program or a wound clock, that’s what we’re doing here.
It’s about the most sacred thing I can imagine.
Redefining my relationship to life.
Redefining my relationship to fear.
Redefining my relationship to love.
There are so many things to give up.
I start by giving up calling fear “fear,” and instead, call it a “Call.”
I’m dialing in for help.
I’m dialing in for what I think I don’t have.
I’m trying to grab.
I’m feeling need.
Okay. I start from there.
If you’re still feeling “hung up” on any one man, or any one experience you’ve lived through or are living through – try this:
1. Imagine you’re on a stairway.
2. You can go up – and you have no idea what’s up there.
3. You can go down – and you have a vague, unsettling feeling of what may be there.
4. You can fall.
5. And so – this man is like the handrail you grab so you don’t fall. You grab, you hold. If he wiggles away, you smile at him prettily and yet hurt so loud he can hear it. You look for the best place to grab onto him. He becomes the only thing that can stop your fall.
6. Now – don’t grab.
6. Don’t even reach out your hand to catch yourself.
7. Next time you find yourself feeling like grabbing onto him: Fall.
In fact, on your way down the stairway, yell at the top of your lungs “Whoopie, I’m moving!” Embrace the scary, empty air as it zooms past your ears, and…
Dive for it.
The stairway is yours, all of it.
Let me know how it feels.