Friday, August 15, 2014

on learning to accept fear (Part 2: responding to a mother's worry)

My mother texted me the other day to express how "sad" it is about Robin Williams. I agreed and commented how mental illness is definitely very real.

She then said: "Promise me never to do that."

And I couldn't reply.

Sometimes the truth is too scary to face, so I hide.

I was afraid of my mother's fear so I chose not to respond to her request that I make such a big promise to her. Mostly I was afraid for her because sometimes the truth can feel like too much. I wanted to protect my mom from worry.

I've been paying more attention to fear these days.

I've been noticing that like children, fear just wants to be noticed. Even though fears can't just get what they want and don't have the right to push me around, I'm letting them be heard. I'm asking questions and trying to learn from them, even though rationalizing with or talking down fear doesn't always work.

Like the white hair, and wrinkles, and aches and pains that have been slowly making me notice that in spite of my feelings, I'm not 25 anymore . . . fear reminds me that I'm human.

I'm learning that I can rest when I simply accept fear as a part of life, kind of like germs that I can't just perfectly cleanse away. I make a choice to accept the risk that I might get sick and live.

No matter what we do, fear isn't something that we can make go away.

Fear isn't something to feel shame about -- neither that we have fear, or that we struggle to control it.

I hope that in time I'll become better at thoughtfully responding to fear instead of impulsively reacting to it and that my body will be strong enough for it the next time it invades me. For now, I'm learning to be honest that this conditioning takes a lot out of me.

I feel like a person who is just beginning a new fitness routine and is tempted to give up from feeling more exhausted because of the workouts. I'm learning to be gentle and patient and kind with myself as I develop the strength to stand strong in the midst of fear that is a part of life. Like wind, I can't control fear from happening, but I can do what I can to be prepared for it. Yoga reminds me of this as I contract my core muscles and stand strong like a tree, imagining that I can't be pushed or blown over.

I'm starting to accept fear and it's wonky ways. I'm also starting to accept it as a part of others, too, and how it spills over and makes a mess sometimes.

Though I couldn't promise my mom I won't one day take my life and I was afraid of how she might feel and what she might think if I spoke the truth, I decided not to let my silence be so deafening.

In my response to my mother's worry for me, I addressed it by saying:
I saw your text before I went to bed and didn't know how to respond, so I let it sit.

The truth is, I can't promise something like that to you. I can't promise that to anyone. Not even myself.

Does it mean you should be worried about my mental health? Not necessarily.
None of us are immune from random and seemingly sudden moments of onset anxiety and depression; however, I'd venture that the "sudden-seeming" nature is really a surfacing of the truth that's hidden below.

I've struggled in my own silent and scary ways for a lot of my life, and it's likely why I created "rules" that were my way of trying to fix myself.

I'm aware that my son and my husband and I could choose not to be brave in this life; we could choose to give up.
That I haven't . . . that any of us haven't . . . is truly a miracle. 

I share this piece of my response to my mom because truth alone isn't enough to set us free

     . . . neither is love from our family, and
     . . . neither is time.

It isn't because we aren't good enough that explains why we continue to struggle in life, it's simply because we haven't arrived in a place where anything is perfect.

When we accept that we were made human, we just might begin to accept our brokenness . . . and even ourselves. 

Maybe, just maybe, we'll begin to simply be, as we are, instead of work to become someone we aren't (even yet).

Maybe we'll begin to see our beauty as the kind that in its rawness is sometimes hard to look at, yet reminds others that they aren't alone.

Maybe we'll begin to see our imperfect bravery of accepting ourselves as the most perfect beauty of all.

Maybe we'll begin to accept grace.

Maybe we'll begin to rest.

Maybe we'll begin to live.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Amy! These are life-giving words! I love this, "When we accept that we were made human, we just might begin to accept our brokenness . . . and even ourselves." Sweet!