Fear consumed my every waking moment. I repeated to myself over and over… Please let this go well. Don’t let that go wrong. What if this other thing happens?
I knocked on wood. I picked up “lucky” pennies. I threw salt over my shoulder. Crossed my fingers, crossed my toes, and crossed the street if I had to. I obsessed about fear. I knew I was over-run by fear, but I didn’t know how to shake it.
In the Al-Anon daily reader, Courage to Change, on the page for July 6th it says….
“I came to expect the worst, leading to a deep fear that permeated my will and my life.”
I feel like I should say … Can I get an Amen!?
I got to tell you all that fear and worry never altered a single outcome. The seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years I spent living in constant fear I cannot count. I hung a post-it note on my bathroom mirror that read, “I am not afraid.” I repeated it to myself every morning. And while it certainly didn’t hurt, it wasn’t the magic answer either.
In Al-Anon I am learning to let all that fear go. Doing things that may seem like everyday stuff for “normal” people was non-existent in my life. Having a discussion with a boss or significant other was impossible. I did one of two things; I went silent or I defended, justified and argued my stance to the hilt and then over the edge. Both of which are a form of self sabotage, in my opinion.
I started small. I told myself, no one knows you’re scared. You don’t have to speak. I graduated to; no one knows you’re scared. It’s ok to have a different opinion. Then I upgraded to, no one knows you’re scared. Speak in a calm manner. And so on.
These days, I rarely have to tell myself, “no one knows” because I no longer live in constant fear. People may disagree with me and my opinions and that’s ok. They may get angry, but their feelings don’t have to be my feelings. But who knows, they just might validate my thoughts and feelings. I don’t know the outcome and fear will not prevent or alter the future. So why let it consume me?
Prior to Al-Anon if someone disagreed with me it meant they were right and I was wrong. There was no gray area. I didn’t understand that there could be more than one right answer.
To get from point A to point B there are an infinite number of routes. I could take the highway. I could take the side streets. I could take a plane, train or boat. I could roller skate if I want to. If I get there who is to say I was wrong.
And if I end up at point C instead maybe it was better than point B all along. I used to assume it was worse. I just knew it was worse. But it doesn’t have to be. It can be good.
The outcome I never imagined can be very good in fact.