Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Facing Fear and Getting Through

I've been thinking about fear. And about how maybe there is no fear so terrible that we cannot face it . . . and come through.

Since getting help with focused counseling and EMDR, I've had to face a lot of fears. Fear isn't even the word. Words like terror, horror, hatred, grief ,and pain are closer to the mark. But unless you experienced the kind of abuse I am talking about, trust me, you have no idea. So much of my life--more than 40 years of it--has been dominated and overrun by fear.

I needed to face that fear and come through. I needed to face a lot of horrifying details, and incredibly painful realizations, because that's where the fear was located, that's what it was all tied up in. I needed a lot--and I mean a LOT--of help. And I want to just say here, that a good counselor is worth his or her weight in gold. Not to mention a thoroughly kind, patient, and committed spouse. Because it ain't easy to be married to someone like me. But I am so grateful that somebody believed I was worth it, despite all the difficulties along the way, and persevered. Right now, despite all the really terribly things that happened to me, I am feeling incredibly lucky, and blessed.

Am I safe now? Maybe, maybe not. I am in a wise, good, protected kind of place. But anything can happen in life. Just ask the millions of refugees from Syria and other countries right now, whose wise, educated, normal-looking "safe" lives have been ripped to shreds. If you're brave enough to really look, you will know that could be my family--that could be me. I don't really think in life you get those kind of guarantees.

The guarantee that you DO get is, no matter what things feel like or how awful they seem, you are never alone.

In abuse groups and stuff survivors are often told to repeat to themselves "I'm safe." That may be true in a specific moment, but to say this as one's outlook--it never feels completely true. But now I think I know that whatever happens, I will be OK. I can be me: intact inside, not shattered into a bunch of different pieces. Not overruled or overrun by someone else. My body and my mind are my own, and are no longer dominated by the fear of something or someone on the outside. For the first time, I am starting to feel "at home" in my own body. And honestly--it feels very foreign. But it also feels good, safe, and empowering. I have a freedom to choose to think or do things, or not. For most of my life, a lot of that felt like an automatic reaction.

For instance, long ingrained habit used to cause me to flinch whenever I was touched, even in the most benign, neutral ways. To shut down, to go someplace else (at least in my mind), to go numb. Now, I'm realizing that I can choose not to do this.

And that is a new feeling, a new thought. I still have a lot to learn.