Over the past several months I have taken a different approach to my blog and written as I walk through my own journey of leaving trauma. I am healing my own personal trauma and believe in a year of a global pandemic each of us can relate in some way. Last week, I wrote about finding the courage to have the spirit of a warrior. To learn how to see fear and guide her when you are called to the battlefield. I’d like to say more.
I used to believe that life was meant for fairytales. One, because I am an empath, so connection, love, and healing are my jam. Two, because the world inundated me with messaging that, as a woman, the path to happiness was true love. The world also bombarded me with messages about marriage, gender norms, who I was supposed to be, what I was supposed to wear, how I should talk, and the like. Never being one to like being told what to do I find it surprising that I battled putting this bullshit down for so long. Society and fear signed a bad deal with the devil.
I feel that I’ve written enough about society making our decisions for us. I think I could write for days; lists of examples, from the food we eat, the clothes we buy, our mannerisms, life goals, and the like. But I’d like to talk about fear a little more. You see, where society was a cosigner on this deal with the devil, fear was the primary signer. Fear is a very wise counsel but an awful driver.
Let’s put a face to fear. Say a grandma or grandpa. Now imagine a tiny, sweet-powder smelling, kind grandparent. I’m imagining my own grandma, who wore a dress and sweater until her passing day at 96 years old. This grandparent has years of wisdom to bestow upon you that you soak in every visit. Then one day, after another enlightening conversation, your grandma wants to take a drive. She’s so wise and wonderful, soft and warm, so of course you say yes. You pull up the car, ready to drive with all her wisdom pulsing in your veins, then your grandma asks to drive.
Speaking from my own experience, my grandma did not have a license or ever drive a car. If your grandparent did, you can borrow mine for this example (but please give her memory back to me because I cherish her). You pause for a moment, grandma does not know how to drive, but she’s so wise and just gave you all this wisdom to help you navigate the challenges of life. Deep breath. OK, why not? “Er, OK Grandma you can drive.” Bad fucking plan. Within five minutes you are in the ditch, the car is flipped, and sirens are on the way. Grandma, as wise and wonderful as she is, cannot drive the car. Fear works just like this.
Fear tells us so much about what we need to know about the potential of danger and harm. If we go back thousands of years, fear literally evolved to keep us safe. From the limbic system all the way to your taste buds. Just as an example, at around 2 year of age (when prehistoric babies would begin solid foods) taste buds develop a disdain for bitterness and seek out sweet food. The origin of this is so that when foraging babies would not eat poisonous plants. Smart little taste buds! Now we have an entire society built around this knowledge as parents blindly give sugar to children based on the food industry’s capitalization on this knowledge. See, more society in that example. Our bodies are so wise and fear lives in them to keep us safe. What fear cannot do is become a thought that makes a wise decision. Fear is grandma in the ditch.
Fear begs us to let her drive, just like grandma, because she is afraid. Fear does not want anything bad to happen to us and, to prevent a potentially catastrophic event from happening, it tells us grandma can’t drive. If we are not grounded in our own love and wisdom, however, we give fear the keys. My goal for all of us is to learn when fear is driving, but be able to place her gently back in the passenger seat. To learn to take her wise council as love directs the wheel.
Life is not about fairytales and achieving the life society tells us we need. A life built on what other people want for us, which society says we should want for ourselves, is the quickest way to unhappiness. It’s also the quickest way to block your potential, gifts and contributions to this beautiful world. Think about it. If we set 100 grandparents without licenses free on the highway we know there would be some crashes. And yet, so many of us are either upset about our own lives or the state of the world. It’s not what we want for our lives. So why do we continue to live this way?
Well, if grandma was driving your car and you legitimately gave her the keys because you thought her wisdom would carry over to the steering wheel, would you blame yourself for the crash? Nope. You made a poor choice, you can offer yourself compassion, and learn from your mistake. The thing is, you need to be the boss of fear. To tell her you hear her message, you will bring it to the council of love, and you will report back to her for the next step of the journey. But there is no way in hell you are giving her the keys. It feels scary to say no to fear, just like it feels scary to say no to your grandma’s wish to drive. But it’s OK. I promise. You’re keeping everyone safe.
Life is not about being happy all of the time, that’s not a real expectation any of us can achieve. This I know to be true. If fear is telling you “wait, we’re not happy! do something else!” she is driving. Fear needs us to sit on the porch, hold her soft, aging hand, and listen to why she feels this way. To walk with her, hear the struggles and dangers she sees, then turn this over to love to decide the next course of action. Love is a wonderful driver. She lives in all of us, waiting to be set free and not limited by fear.
I am firmly planted in the belief that pain comes for each of us and is not something to be afraid of. We can stand boldly in our pain, feel it, and live to tell what we learned. When we do this, we access more joy on the other side of pain and fear than we ever imagined. This is the truth that society is keeping from us. You don’t need anything to be happy except yourself. Experiencing pain does not take away from your capacity to be happy. Joy is always on the other side.