Figuring Out Fear

I’ve become aware of various levels of fear in my life, as an underlying factor in my insomnia, anxiety, and general apprehension in just giving myself a chance, taking a risk, and so on. 

I don’t know if getting to the root of these feelings will help or not, but I feel compelled to explore. 

There are parts of me frozen in time, bare with me, this is just one of my interpretations of my personal experience. It’s this space full of absolute terror, fear that I was about to die and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I was just a kid. Feeling like I don’t know if I’m coming or going, like this can’t be real, this is a nightmare that I can’t wake up from. Powerless. 

Again, when mom kept having me institutionalized, I would be dragged out of bed, pinned to the floor by a half dozen adults, given injections of Thorazine and Ativan and then put in 4 point restraints for hours on end. There was nothing I could do. My mom consented. They could do whatever they wanted and if I fought, I’d just wind up getting injured. I’ve been tackled, arm choked against the wall, head slammed into floors and doors. So what the fuck was I supposed to do? I just would dead weight and not say a word, because I didn’t want to get hurt. 

I’ve carried this powerlessness as fear. When I want to sleep or relax, every sound triggers that fear in me, because I can’t trust anyone not to hurt me. So I have trouble sleeping and whatnot when there are other people around. 

When I start to reach out and make new connections, I get scared that either they’ll breach my trust or abandon me. I don’t allow myself to be close with anyone because of this. I’ve been with my girlfriend for a year and a half and I’ve known her since we were 18, and she barely knows anything about my childhood. It took me about three years with this current therapist to be able to say some of it out loud. 

Fear gets in my way a lot and maybe that is because I never found a way to…to what? What am I missing? I didn’t get to fight back. I didn’t get to break free. So how do I fight back and break free now? This probably ties in with that dream I had about two weeks ago.  

Dream: I was walking through a hospital in search of a woman named Ruth. I noticed all the staff were busy treating patients, but the patients were already dead. There was a sense of urgency to find Ruth. 

I only know two Ruths. Ruth 1 was my professor back at the community college. She volunteered to be my client for a counseling theory class after my mom attempted suicide a week after she was my client. I remember something she said to me, something to the effect of: animals don’t question if there’s a God, they just do what they do. 

Ruth 2 recently lost her best friend and this will dramatically alter her life routine. 

So the Ruth component I take to mean that sometimes I have to stop questioning and just live my life and also that I must learn to adapt. 

I think the staff treating dead patients means that I am hanging on to things that I need to let go of. If something doesn’t work, move on and do something else. 

And now to tie this all together!

I don’t need to let go of the fear. I need to let go of the idea that I am powerless. If something happens, I can fight or I can leave. I need to let go of the idea that I am incompetent because of the symptoms of PTSD. I need to let go of the idea that this is a mental illness that needs fixing and start seeing it for what it really is. I was wounded in ways I cannot fathom and I survived. I fucking lived, despite it all, even despite myself. 

I have to let go of all those things that fuel the negative self image. Ego death. I’ve been down this path before. 

It would make sense then, that fear and the urge to run away, is so strong now. It is the ego crying out “I am damaged. I am undeserving.” while pleading to exist as such. I just have to say NOPE and break out of this cycle. 

Easier said than done. 


One thought on “Figuring Out Fear

  1. I’m saddened by reading about your childhood experiences of powerlessness and abuse and being institutionalized. You didn’t deserve that. I believe, also, from my own experiences that underlying or not so underlying fear is what can cause us to want to “run” from people, places, situations. A problem can be that running can be so disruptive to building stability and growth in our life. I hope you’re able to work on this with your therapist. Wishing you the best. A.


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