Thursday, August 13, 2009

FEAR: The Controlling Arm Within the Puppet

Fear of the DarkImage by stuant63 via Flickr

How do fears manifest themselves in our daily lives? How do these fears come to be a part of us? It is possible that we are unaware of how our fears affect our behavior?

We have been involved with our partner for a few months. We feel strong surges of emotion for our new partner. All is proceeding well, or so it seems. In the back of our mind, however, we have a nagging fear that our partner is being unfaithful. There have been no indicators to lead us to believe that this is happening and we have no external reason to feel this way, but we just can't shake the feeling that something is wrong. We try to dodge the feelings and ignore them, telling ourself that it is all in our head.

Time passes and our attachment to our partner increases. We feel even more strongly about them than before. However, the sense that we are being duped increases. Our emotions are screaming at us that we are being had, that our partner is being unfaithful.

We can no longer ignore our feelings and begin to query our partner. At first we ask gently if they are happy with us, if there is anyone else in the picture. When we receive the assurance we seek we feel calmed. But the feeling doesn't last. After a few days we again feel the agitation and repeat our query. This time the assurance is followed with a request for an explanation. We are caught off guard and don't know how to respond. We try to make an excuse, but it is clear that we are concealing our true intent. We feel no better this time and begin to believe even more strongly that we are being duped. Our mind reels with the endless possibilities. We are plagued with thoughts we cannot bear.

Over time we try to avoid asking for further reassurances but cannot do so. Our partner becomes irritated with our lack of faith and begins to pull away emotionally. We feel the loss, adding fuel to the fire in our head. Our emotions spin out of control. We cannot tolerate our thoughts or feelings. Soon our partner tires of the endless questions and lack of trust and leaves the relationship. Our beliefs are confirmed. We were wrong to even begin to trust our partner in the first place.

What has happened to us? We have been plagued by fear. We entered into the relationship with the fear that we would be betrayed. In the process we caused the exact thing we feared. It happened as a result of our behavior. Because we had been hurt this way in a prior relationship and we did not allow ourselves to heal from that hurt, we carried it into our next relationship. We did not practice self care and did not allow ourselves the time to heal our wounds. We plunged into another relationship headlong without thinking of the consequences to ourselves. In the process, we set ourselves up to be hurt once again. Although we may initially believe that our partner was unfaithful, eventually we realize what has actually transpired. We chased our partner away.

We allowed our fear to run our life and direct our behavior. We felt powerless over our emotions and let them run rampant, causing havoc in our relationship. As a result of our display, our partner eventually tired of the drama and left the relationship. We created that which we feared. Or to look at it another way, our fear manifested itself in our lives through our behavior.

The importance of this point cannot be stressed enough. If we follow the logic through we can see how fear may manifest itself in other areas of our lives. Our fear of losing money may encourage unstable spending habits, causing us to fall into debt. We may fear gaining weight, thereby increasing our stress level to the point that we eat the wrong foods or eat to relax. Our fear of abandonment may lead us to cling to those we love, causing them to feel suffocated and in the process push them away.

When we enter into recovery we face our fears, acknowledge that they exist and are a part of who we are. We integrate them into our sense of self and allow ourselves the time and space to heal the old wounds that created the fears. We practice self care, work on increasing our self esteem and realize that our fears served us well at one time, but we no longer need them to protect us. We are capable of protecting ourselves. We use our tools and give ourselves the benefit of the doubt as we progress in our recovery, knowing that we will fall from time to time. That's okay. Perfection is not the goal.
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