No feeling takes over our lives more suddenly or more completely than FEAR.  It seems to come out of nowhere, in a blink or a swallow, and can infect everything we do.  Fear blinds.  Fear cripples.  My fear confines me.  I curl up in a dark shell and feel suffocated by it.  Many times throughout my life, I lived in a constant state of fear.  Fear of the unknown, of change, of actually presenting to the world my true self.

Do you ever feel like you are wearing a mask?  We put on the mask so young.  Perhaps the mask is silent, and behind it, we feel like screaming.  The mask imprisons us, but it gives protection too.  I feel naked without it, raw and exposed, having nowhere to hide. I believe my fear originated from not wanting to expose my real self.  I was afraid of judgement and criticism.  I have spent thousands of worthless hours as a little girl, teenager, and young adult wishing I was someone else.  What a complete waste of time.  I need to stop fearing the critical gaze of others and start accepting ME.  Life is just too short!

I spend too much time worrying what others think of me.  Do they like me?  Are they happy?  Their needs most always be met before mine.  I have agreed so much with what people say, that I don’t have any opinions of my own.  Why do I care so much what others think of me?  I guess I believed I wasn’t nearly enough.  I also refused to believe that anyone needed me, and I certainly didn’t need the help of anyone else.  I would rather sit alone with my negative self-talk, than to have to tell anyone I needed them.  I would rather be lonely than to have to connect with others.  Letting my guard down and expressing my deepest feelings is frightening.  But the more I live far from my own center, the more I ensure distance from all the people in my life.

I can look back at my younger self and see someone who didn’t have a clue as to who she really was or what she really wanted.  Too soon, perhaps early on in school or at home, I started doubting my sense of self.  Somewhere I started to become anxious to be received…desperately needing to be accepted, to be approved of, to be loved.  So I strove for perfection.  I don’t want to know nor hear that my husband, friends, or parents see anything in me to criticize.  How could they?  I’ve worked so hard to be perfection in their eyes.  Poor me.  I know I’m far from perfect, but I can’t tolerate hearing it from someone else.  Where did I get the idea that I’m supposed to be error-free?  Fear is a devastating handicap. But once I can learn to accept my own imperfections, I will be set free.  I will have peace of mind- what a priceless gift.

Perhaps I think I would be happy if I rubbed out my last traces of imperfection.  But that is not happiness; that would be like me becoming marble- cold, hard, breakable.  Before I can become what I’m meant to be, I must accept what I am not.  I need to let go of all of my grand fantasies of what I wish I could be.  These fantasies make we work to be perfect instead of compassionate.  It’s exhausting!  I am constantly distracted by all I think I could or should be.  I have been chasing after what I lack, only to find with humbleness, that it was with me all along.

It takes a lot of strength and fight to surrender control, to let go of all my insane expectations of myself.  Perhaps surrender might open a door?  And with this surrender – not knowing what might happen next (GASP!)… maybe just maybe, I can now allow my life to truly unfold.  I have always been my own worst enemy, but now I want to learn to live in harmony with myself.  There is no running away from my internal strife, we all have it.  But I’m learning that, whatever haunts me, must finally be confronted and resolved if I ever want to grow and contribute to the world.  Often I hold fast to fear, but it’s only holding back life’s forward motion.

As I have mentioned before, I have been in search of my voice for most of my life.  Did I make a deal with the modern devil?  I give up my voice- become silent, and receive emptiness in return.   I also have never wanted to “make waves”, in fear of confrontation or a disapproving eye.  But maybe NOT making waves means giving up my chance to dive into the deep.  Can I dare to be myself?

We are all different.  Success in life probably has more to do with expressing our uniqueness fully than suppressing it.  I find the need to always try to please everyone else, but I can’t be authentic if I’m concealing the truth.  Authenticity is what I strive for!

I have somehow always found ways to protect myself from feeling pain…most of them harmful and detrimental to my self and psyche.  Because I hated feeling fear, anger, embarrassment, guilt, I lived in a world of denial and found ways to live COMFORTABLY NUMB.  .  But when I numb my feelings, I can’t feel happiness.  So I am learning that it is okay to feel uncomfortable;  to LEAN IN to the discomfort; to become vulnerable.  Vulnerability can be excruciating.  But I have to stop hiding in fear and start letting myself be seen.

I want to live authentically by having the courage to be imperfect and the compassion to be kind to myself first.  I will try to view myself, and the world, with eyes wide open.  I am now just beginning to experience clarity.  I am seeing everything with crystal clear vision.  I enjoy quiet beauty and the wonder all around me.  And finally, we must ALL always remember, WHAT MAKES YOU VULNERABLE, MAKES YOU BEAUTIFUL!

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