Sunday, May 15, 2011
Freedom: From Fear to Flight
Fear is a funny thing. To an extent, it is instinctual, a natural-born defense mechanism to protect us from potential harm. To another extent, it is learned, a product of the actions, attitudes and beliefs of the people and culture we are surrounded by. For many, fear causes self-limiting behavior, while for others, the sheer determination to overcome fear drives them to greatness. Fear of heights, of spiders, of God, of germs, of death, of loss, of power, of one’s own divinity. . . so many things that one could be fearful of. So many ways to then transform that fear into something benevolent and begin to soar.
There comes a time, or many times, in our lives when we are confronted with our fear. Not everyone will be open to their fear and use it as a catalyst toward betterment, but I assure you the option exists for us all. I never considered myself a particularly fearful person. There wasn’t much that “scared” me and I always thrived on pushing boundaries and testing my limits. I’ve never been afraid of the typical, more mundane sorts of things like snakes or airplane rides or the dark. My independent streak has been so fully intact my entire life that I was never afraid to set off on my own and march to my own drum. It took more careful observation and some pretty profound life experiences for me to realize that there are things that I am afraid of, and if I cannot transform that fear into acceptance, strength, conviction and other positives, it would continue to subtly paralyze me and prevent me from realizing my full potential and grace.
The first time I saw my fear clearly was when my father tried to kill himself a couple of years before he ironically ended up dying of cancer. Reading that line, you might assume that I was afraid of losing my father. That was not the case. Death has never scared me. I revere the significance of the loss of any life, I understand sadness and grief, but I have always been entirely comfortable in my faith that death occurs when and as the Universe deems it should. Who am I to question the Universe? When my father revealed himself in all his fragile, fragmented, imperfectly perfect humanity, I came to the realization that I had lived my life seeking his approval, and I had been deeply, if not always consciously, afraid of not having it. In the wake of his crisis, which spawned an even larger family crisis, I distanced myself and began the process of recognizing and reconciling my fear. It was through this experience that I truly internalized the realization that I do not need approval from absolutely anyone. While I may enjoy it, it is not a necessity, and I certainly do not intend to live my life seeking it. The ultimate contract that I must honor in my life is the one made by my higher self with the Universe. Only God and I know what that is really all about. Only God and I know what I am truly capable of and meant for; therefore, only we know when I am self-limiting or self-sabotaging in some way. I don’t need any external approval to know whether I am doing my best and following my path. Realizing I’d been so fearful of this and releasing it was a tremendous moment in my personal journey and it brought me into deeper communion with spirit than I’d ever known prior.
The second time I saw my fear clearly was when, after C. and I split up, I realized that we really and truly were not going to mend what was broken between us, and our marriage was over. In truth, I came to this realization deep down inside far sooner than I showed it outwardly. I continued to fight for quite some time to save something that wasn’t meant to be. It took us a year and a half to actually get a divorce, but somewhere in the deepest part of my being, I knew very early on that we were through. It was my fear of being alone and perhaps not knowing such a great love again, it was my ego, that fought on even when my soul knew better. It took time for me to bridge that internal divide and to face my fear. But once I did, once I realized that I am a perfect, beautiful whole with all the happiness, strength, comfort, resilience and wisdom I need already within me, it was like a rebirth. I have faith that love and companionship will come in and out of my life when and how they are meant to. I have faith that having learned about myself through this fear I will be open to the gifts and the lessons that each future encounter will bring, even when those gifts and lessons hurt to receive at times. I am not afraid to be alone, nor am I afraid to be in love. Freedom from fear is true happiness. Freedom from fear is what allows you to truly spread your wings.
Just yesterday, my fear rose up and placed itself directly in my line of conscious sight once again. This time, the lesson came more quickly than the previous experiences, making the emotions particularly intense and the ultimate clarity that came razor-sharp. About a week ago, I received a phone call with a piece of news that should have elicited an absurdly joyful response from me. Instead, I was literally overcome with a feeling of dread and weighed down with negative energy. I tried to shake it, but I couldn’t. I tried to understand it, but I knew my rational, analytical approach was not really getting to the core of the matter. I tried to excuse and apologize for my reaction, but everyone, including myself, knew I was just saying the words without feeling the emotions. I couldn’t shake the ominous, foreboding feeling off, and it troubled me. Something bad was going to come of this. Then yesterday, I got another phone call, this one telling me that that should-have-been wonderful news was no longer. It had been lost, leaving deep, dark pain in its wake. Suddenly my dread made sense. I had known all along that this was not meant to be, even though there was no way for me to communicate this to the keepers of the news. (Forgive my vagueness here; however, it is a sensitive matter involving loved ones whose privacy I want to respect.) Hanging up after the second phone call, I processed everything for a few moments time, then found myself uncontrollably sobbing with an anguish that rose up from depths I couldn’t even name. Rationally speaking, there was no reason I personally should have been reacting this way. I could revere the loss as a bystander, feel sad on behalf of my loved ones, but this matter didn’t touch me so directly as to elicit such a gut-wrenching response. Why was I crying so hard? Why was I feeling such a surge of emotion? At my altar, on my knees, the answer came. I was crying out my fear, releasing the energy that had been working so hard to keep me afraid of my own power. My power had revealed itself through this recent premonition in a way that I had never seen it before because I had not been ready to. I have been told by so many for so long, and felt stirrings inside of me that tipped me off to just how strong my intuition is, but I never understood it in the way I did through this experience. If this all sounds crazily esoteric or overly egocentric, believe me that it’s not my intention. I’m not completely sure how best to convey through words what I experienced, but I know that I have to try. I have to try because just as I needed to see that my own power is nothing to fear, we ALL need this lesson. Power is a word with very intense, and often adverse, connotations. Yet we all know that power can, and is, used for good all the time. If we can release the fear of the unique power that has been divinely placed within each of us, embrace it and channel it toward helping others and ourselves, our world will heal and be better.
May the space in our hearts presently held in fear open itself up to grace and to peace. May we all tap into the strength and courage to face the dark sides of ourselves so that we can bask fully in the light. May we free fall out of our fear and see that our very own wings are meant to glide perfectly on the winds of life.
Posted by Just Jess