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What’s scarier than nightmares? Fear.

Screen shot 2014-04-07 at 10.33.07 PMSand would be the preferred place to stick my head, but I’d settle for the corner of my closet behind my collection of three pea coats in various lengths and hues or the cubby in a set of shelves behind my faux Murphy bed. All this Oakland sunshine has been seeping through my turned up blinds, and the hallway light is forever flooding beneath my front door, constantly illuminating the state of the mess of my (and another’s) heart I have made.

Except, to tuck myself away – even just my head – would be an act of fear. And fear is what got me here in the first place. My fear did me no good. In fact, it did me bad. My fear stripped me, and another, of our delight. Dignity. Memory. Intimacy.

Fear isn’t pretty when it’s coddling you, so you can imagine it’s basically Medusa’s hair meets a decaying pig fetus when consuming your every nerve ending, your every decision, so thoroughly you can’t witness the take over even though everyone else can. I know this best of all. I wrote about it. Being motivated by fear led me astray… once you move beyond your fear, all you see is how simple the path is. You were the only person standing in your way. Despite knowing it then, I didn’t know I was actively making choices based on it then — I felt like I was running on instinct.

Breaking up was my fear-based decision. Actually, breaking-up was simply the outcome of many fear-based decisions. My real fear-based decision was arguably more heartbreaking than that: my belief, down to the bones and the core of my being, that I should not and could not be loved.

So I set out to prove myself right against someone who loved me.*

There was me over-analyzing if having any feelings and my heart always pitter-pattering that the goodness streaming into my life would back away. Better in those moments to remain quiet, remain sturdy, remain confident…than to allow it to know what power it holds when we’re told not to give anyone that power, ever. And I thought, the whole time, I was being brave. If only it was so intentioned, I might not feel blindsided by everything.

My “bravery” is kind of an asshole, though. It manifests as what is classically called care-taking: taking everything on, never wanting another person to feel worry or strife or frustration — because if they did they might not love me. Eliminate the worry, eliminate the fear.

This doesn’t work.**

My bravery struts around thinking “See! I’m protecting you both! I’m helpful!” It has no idea when its done to my heart. My bravery has no idea it is paradoxically fear itself.

Fear has the emotional intelligence of a small child. It does not see beyond its own nose. Compassion does not exist in fear. Fear will gladly bop a hummingbird on the head and then stare in wonder and horror as it watches the bird crumble, unable to comprehend at first, then falling apart as it realizes what it has inflicted.

Which is also precisely how shamefully child-like my fear behaved.

Fear is worse than even the most panic-stricken nightmare. After turning the sensical world on its head, fear lights it into inextinguishable flames and drowns it in a bottomless abyss.

But in tenebris, lux. In darkness, light.

There is good news: each moment, of each day, we possess the power to change all of this. I possess that power. To step away from the fear and worry, to make the choice to stop inflicting pain. And it may not alter the course of history right away. But given time, it will.

And the best news is I believe this is all possible.

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*Read This is What Happens When You Love Someone Who Has Built Up Walls for more on this.

**And frankly, it’s wrong. It does not allow the other person to demonstrate that they are strong, capable, of emotionally sound roots.

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