Asleep in Fear or Awake in Love
Jan 2, 2017
I wake up many morning to a feeling of unease…dis-ease. Disease. The disease of fear. The persistent feeling that…Something. Is. Wrong. It goes on ad infinitum when you begin to be aware of it. We rename it anxiety, depression, jealousy, greed, anger, pride, control, blame, apathy, despair. It’s one thing to live in fear, ignorant of this state in yourself. However, when you begin to wake up to this persistent state of high or low levels of fear in yourself, it becomes less and less tolerable.
In its most subtle form, fear has me feeling separate from everyone around me, making up stories about there being no time or that people don’t really want to get close to me, not allowing myself to be truly vulnerable. I see myself doing this with everyone—my husband and daughters, my students, friends, co-workers, and strangers – missing out on connection and love (what I want most) in my effort to be on time, to manage how I’m perceived, and keep myself safe.
My more dramatic fear picture looks more like this: I’m overwhelmed by my whole life. My husband is shut down. My teenage daughter is on a demolition course. My job is killing me. I’m failing as a mother. My father is deteriorating and dying before my eyes. Everyone wants something of me all the time.
I’m carrying on about this fear thing because it can be challenging for people to even realize they’re operating this way. It’s such a normalized state of being. I’m writing this tonight to call it what it really is—Bullshit. Nothingness. False Evidence APPEARING Real. It’s never the truth, but when you’ve repeated the same fear story 10,000 times in your mind, it seems to become pretty fucking real.
So, I have become aware that the perceptual shift out of this fear/sleep state and into love is possible. I’ve experienced it many times. It seems so simple – just a split second and my awareness can shift from closed to open, victimized to empowered, blame to responsibility. And when that happens, I watch as my distant teenager clamors to draw near, my shut-down husband opens, cold strangers sweetly smile and this seeming gap between me and everyone disappears because it was never real anyway. I know in these moments that the responsibility and power to love is always mine if I choose it.
So how? How do I continuously choose love over fear? Let’s be clear; I’ve been very hard on myself about this. Sad and remorseful at the lost connection opportunities caused by my fearful beliefs. It feels like the greatest challenge of my life, and yet is so simple. Breathe. Feel. Dance. Scream. Cry. Fuck Up. Learn. Be vulnerable. Meditate. Pray and beg. Laugh. Touch. Make eye contact. Be real. Help someone else. Love fearlessly. I think you get the picture. Live fully. Release however you can. Let go. Love yourself even when you seem to be falling short.
The Awareness Institute has given me a safe place to learn to live like this, a community that supports me in this process of undoing fear, which incidentally does not usually look conventional or prettied up at all! People who are honest with me and don’t let me get away with my fear stories. For this I am so grateful, as I find it very challenging to chart this course alone. Fear is nothing if not mesmerizing, and I’ve found I need all the support I can get!
Shannon is a team volunteer for the Awareness Institute.
January 2, 2017
Thank you Shannon for this great reminder of what I’m up against and what I have to gain. So appreciate your passionate and palpable insights. I feel this so often and love this reminder to see beyond it no matter how intense it feels. A whole new world is millimeters away, always, imagine that!
February 6, 2017
Thank you Shannon for your real life vulnerability and courage to express yourself in such a honest way!!
Powerful to read and remind myself of the common thread we all share I. This road to presence and love!!!