In the past week, I’ve read two books that really made me think about my love life and the choices I’ve been making. What were these inspiring reads, you ask? Well, they weren’t a couple of the latest self help books nor were they any part of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy. Instead, I found myself reflecting after reading the latest dystopian society/young adult/thriller series. Normal, right?
When my 16 year old cousin recommended Divergent to me (and told me it was even better than The Hunger Games…) I never thought it would be anything more than a fun read. And you know, for many, it may not be. But for me, the trilogy’s themes of bravery, strength and fear really hit home. As the main character fought through gory and unimaginable situations, you saw her will to survive tested, and watched her struggle with pain and repeated loss. I couldn’t help but imagine what I would do if I was in similar circumstances. Am I a fighter?
I know what I want the answer to be. The core of me says, fuck yea I would fight. I am a tough beezy and I would never give up. I would be just like Tris – willing to face danger and pain if it meant obtaining my goal. I wouldn’t let anything stop me. But even as I thought that, I had to call bullshit on myself. Is that how I’ve been behaving these last few months? Boldly facing the things I fear most? Standing up to people who don’t like me? Being brave and fighting for what I believe in? Walking away from the easy choice? Um that’s a big fat no across the board.
The reality is, for the last 3 months of my life I have been the weakest version of myself. I stopped blogging because I didn’t like the anonymous words from a few random people on the internet. I’ve been living in my favorite delusional world (the one where I pretend like D and I work) and have been pissed at anyone who tries to poke holes in said delusion. I’ve been drunk, selfish and sad and because of what? Because I didn’t make a dance team? Or because one guy didn’t call me once? What the hell is so bad in my life that I’ve let it make me so weak? And the answer to that last question makes me really sad because it is nothing. If I am being honest with myself, my life is freaking awesome and I have no reason to be indulging in this weakness, other than sheer laziness. Or is it fear?
Fear is a funny emotion and not one I think many of us think about often. We often associate being afraid with bodily harm or unimaginable horror, and I don’t know that we give enough attention to the emotional fears we each possess. Yes, we may be afraid of the dark, or of walking home alone – but what about the deeper more personal fears? I’d venture to guess that most of us don’t even know what our biggest fears are, let alone have any clue how to deal with them.
My favorite part of the Divergent series addressed exactly this – the tendency within us all to suppress and avoid the things we are afraid of. During the first book there was a part where each character had to face his or her fears in a “fear landscape.” Aimed at making them stronger, each person was tested by every fear they possessed in succession (from moths, to having sex, to killing family members) and was only able to make it through by facing each and every one.
After reading this, I had to wonder – what would be in my fear landscape? And that’s when it hit me. My biggest fear, the one that I don’t like to admit and certainly don’t have a clue how to deal with, is being alone. I am petrified that I am going to end up with no one. That I’ll never get the wedding, or the babies, or the real healthy relationship that I crave and that I believe in. And it is this fear, even more so than love, that has kept me hanging onto D for 10 years. While I like to tout how strong and independent I am, the truth is, I’ve never really been alone. For my entire adult life, D has never been more than a phone call away. He has been the crutch that has allowed me to be weak; the thing that has kept me from facing my fear. And what’s become painfully obvious these past few months is that the more I use this crutch, the less strength I have. I’m afraid that if I keep this up I will no longer be acting weak – it will just be who I am.
So what do I do? Do I fold and just say, well that’s the way it is? I am tired of fighting for my happy ending and I have a solid band-aid keeping me from dealing with my biggest fear.
Or am I brave? Can I face being alone head on?
Two weeks ago, when D asked me if I was giving him an ultimatum, I immediately back pedaled. I told him of course not. I knew he needed time, just wanted to know where we were headed, blah blah blah. But all that was me reacting to my fear of being alone. The real me believes I deserve his commitment, and I deserve it now, but my fear was over riding my convictions. And even though I’ve been confused about a whole lot of things lately, there is one thing I know for sure – I don’t want fear to run my life. That’s not the woman I want to be.
So here I am, beginning the journey of facing my fears. I’ve started with a small one (the fear of facing my haters on the internet) with the knowledge that it will propel me towards facing my more pivotal fears. I may never be able to overcome my fear of ending up alone, but my hope is that I find ways to cope with said fear that are more in line with the strong woman I know is at my core.
In the meantime, I’d be curious to know how often you all think about what you are afraid of? And those things that freak you out the most, are they things you avoid or things you try and conquer? But most importantly, if you are dauntless enough to face your fears, mind leaving me a few tips? I’d be eternally grateful.