I am feeling unbelievably blessed these days. I am living with the three coolest people on the planet, who happen to be my family. Work is pleasant and fulfilling. I’m able to travel to beautiful places to teach beautiful souls (who are really teaching me). Life is good, but I still feel afraid.
It’s not the kind of fear that is easily identifiable by others. I’m not experiencing panic (at least not in this particular season). I’m not even as obsessive as I’m capable of. Fear is sneaky, though, and it’s in there.
Every aspect of my body and being needs work. My default mode is to an extremely mild dissociative-like (totally fear-informed) state, often intentionally induced by Netflix and apathy. Fear is doing its job, but it’s also preventing me from true growth and awareness. I just read a piece from Richard Rohr where he said that “fear is not enlightenment”. I endorse that wholeheartedly. The problem is that my fear believes it is enlightened.
I’ve been teaching on fear quite a bit lately. I teach that fear is, by design, a protective emotion. It shows up when life has taught us that it is useful. A good and counterintuitive introductory plan to addressing fear is to see it, acknowledge it, and be grateful for it. Being thankful for fear’s protective nature better prepares me for noticing whether protection is actually needed, and, for noticing what other kinds of strength-based protectors I have access to.
I’m trying to practice what I teach. So, I say to you [fear], I often fight you and judge you and even indulge you. Today I only want to listen and learn from you. As I come to understand your message, I will express my gratitude for your protective nature. With the awareness that could come from holding together both you [fear] and gratitude, I will look for safe people and protectors who can support the work you’ve been doing on your own for so long. I want to give you rest, not overpower you.
And now I breathe.
Reflections on lessons learned from being a therapist and adoptive dad.