Freeing Space for Fear

I’ve had a deeply tenderizing experience recently all about respect and responsibility. The details are unimportant. I acted out of irritation and unawareness, venting frustration in a universal way when a particular response was warranted. I was called on my action. The action in itself was fairly minor and common, but the fallout was great, and it was one of those events that seems designed by Being to break down and tear away another layer of self-protection to reveal a new skin of tenderness and authenticity.

Processing this event took me down to a deep place in my shadow zone, a young and innocent place that is easily confused by unclear expectations and easily wounded by disappointing those expectations. As I leaned into these edges with my circle of support, I was gifted a revelation about my absolute resistance to realizing my fear.

What powerful defenses I have constructed against it! Elaborate and familiar rationales and patterned responses rise up whenever fear comes calling. I created a whole lexicon of code words to keep it locked away.

Once I recognized fear beneath the discomfort of my experience, once I spoke it out loud, I dropped into a greater existential pain. It laid me low. Today I woke into a deeper resting in my body, a more accessible vulnerability and tender heartedness.

What I want to say is that fear is a condition of our human experience. It is responsible to a high degree for our collective and individual survival at a very basic level. But more than that, it is an opportunity to relieve ourselves of a super-human expectation, a dehumanizing limitation. There is a strong impulse to cast it as a lesser emotion, something to be resisted, avoided or overcome. Much of our culture is dedicated to its denial or transcendence.

To flip a great American axiom: there is nothing to fear in fear itself. Like all taboos, its repression fuels its desire for expression. It wants some space. Once you let up on the pressure to contain it, it transmutes like fog and dissipates leaving something freshly revealed in its place.

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