Fear and Loving in an Uncertain World

Intimate with Fear Redux

I awoke with a start, instantly alert
Heart pumping, pupils dilated scanning
Still dark and deep quiet disconcerts
Fear perches between my dreams and awakening

Here we sit, the fear that knows my fears
The piercing eye and judging hand take steady aim
On hopes and loves, and all that matters, and new frontiers
Disheartened by praise then blame, malaise and shame

Unexpectedly, instead of hiding, I turn to embrace
Without need for words nor charm nor deflecting gaze
I accept my fear, uncertain is even the worst case
Life has sharp edges, living fully cuts both ways

Fear limits the love you can share.  Fear limits the love you can accept.  Whereas fear limits, love expands.  Where fear pulls us back, love draws us closer.  Where fear sees risks, love sees possibilities.  I don’t mean to imply that they are opposites or mirror each other.  The absence of fear doesn’t equal the presence of love.  It is perhaps better to think of fear as being an unsupportive condition for the growth of love.  In spite of its significant dangers, fear is a valuable and frequent human emotion. There’s a pretty big difference between the useful kind of fear (like the spike we get when we see a large bear at the edge of our camp site) from the fear that gets triggered by the emotional traumas that we carry with us from our past.  John Gottman calls the latter enduring vulnerabilities.  Unfortunately, we confuse the two in everyday life. (more…)

A Foolish Consistency?

We’ve all made a set of decisions or hold a set of assumptions about what works for you; how you’ve constructed a life.  In this, we’ve all made different choices.  For some, their primary dedication is to their career or a cause.  Others dedicate themselves to the family that surrounds them.  Some choose to not have children.  There are many, many large and small decisions that we make that we expect to be more or less persistent.  These so-called life choices frame a lot of  our life’s experience.  Who we primarily interact with, whom we love, and the character of the challenges we more or less intentionally face.  There are times when it’s really hard to sort out whether sticking to one of these life choices is a mark of foolish consistency or a wise application of what one knows works.

Sometimes life serves up challenges to our choices.  They can shake you to your foundation.  And, even though we view these principles as the rock upon which our lives are built, we may find that our foundations are easily cracked. I honestly don’t know if reinforcing and re-cementing the cracks is the wise action or letting things break apart.  With my old construction of my life, I found that the patch works were too extensive.  I had no choice but to tear down the ramparts and start again seated firmly on fresh soil.

And… and then I fell in love.  Yes, again.  But, sometimes head does in fact flip over heels.  Unfortunately, that relationship fell apart under the weight of polyamory. A rare and special love had to end because she’s monogamish and I’m a flaming polymore. We tried mightily to build a bridge across that divide. A crazy love bridge to support and cradle our hearts high above the rapids below. We never made it across.  But, somewhere in the middle, the bridge clearly collapsing, I wondered “if poly can cause me this much pain, is it really the right thing? Am I sticking to something that sounds good in the vague hope that something just right will come along while ignoring the bounty in front of me?” (more…)

Tenderhearted

There are some days when tears rest easy on the eyes.  Days when I can’t seem to grab my emotional equilibrium.  Sometimes that emotional tenderness lasts for many days.  It all started when I breezed into my therapist’s office all cocksure as if I had the world figured out.  Well, of course, you know how this ends.  His probing and probative questions did their job well.  They opened me up.  But, by doing so, they also landed me squarely on uncertain ground.  I have yet to regain my emotional footing.  And so, tears rest easy on my eyes, neither spilling forward nor retreating.

“When things are shaky and nothing is working, we might realize that we are on the verge of something.  We might realize that this is a very vulnerable and tender place, and that tenderness can go either way.  We can shut down and feel resentful or we can touch in on that throbbing quality. ”    ―  Pema Chödrön

But, the particulars of this shifting sand aren’t really the point of me telling you this story.  It is about how intensely alone I feel at these moments.  And, the reality that it is somewhat self-inflicted.  You see, this shaky tenderness is where I feel most frightened, vulnerable. A spot where I have an excess of feeling and few answers.  It is a place where my analytical, problem solving mind has no facts from which to derive an appropriate solution.  It is even a struggle to describe the nature of the problem itself.  Words fail me.  In essence, my IQ is of little use and my EQ is unprepared, a weak muscle unaccustomed to exercise.  And so, I’m left in a battle with myself mostly unarmed. (more…)