What I’m afraid of …
Being afraid is not an easy thing. It causes one to hide away from the world, or to do nothing at all. I think many people are afraid of so many different things that their idea is to hide away, from places, from people, and ultimately from themselves. Some people are so afraid of everything that they are agoraphobic. They lock themselves inside four walls. The scary thing is that they are locked within their own minds, let alone the four walls.
As a guy I think it often gets worse. We are supposed to be the ones without fear. Which means that if the previous 30 other jobs turned us down, we still have to believe we will get the 31st. Or if we have been rejected by the previous 49 women, we are supposed to be totally secure and go out there flirting with the 50th without any insecurity or fear. It also means we have to be the brave ones and step out when the robber goes into our home.
Let me state that I am not a person trying to argue against these things. I’m not saying a guy shouldn’t have confidence about himself and his capabilities. And a guy should be secure in himself to take rejection. I also think the guy should be the person prepared to defend himself and his family from whatever may come their way. But these things that may be true do not necessarily mean that I have no fear. Likewise, the fact that I have fear does not mean that I need to go Stuart Smalley and stare at a mirror repeating the mantra, “I’m good enough. I’m strong enough. And doggone it, people like me.”
So what do I fear? I fear first and foremost for my daughter. Yes, I fear about her safety. And after having to be in hospitals and doctors offices for more times than I would like to admit, I fear about her health as well. But those are obvious ones. It’s the harder things to see that scare me.
As a single father, I fear that our relationship has been damaged and in some ways continues to be damaged. I fear that I have been set up for failure in that regard. (I take full responsibility for any actions I do. It’s just hard when it feels like the other parent in your child’s life puts up barriers to that relationship.). I don’t want to lose a relationship that is deeply important to me.
Furthermore, I fear that our stunted relationship will make it harder for her to have relationships with other men in the future. (This has nothing to do with her sexuality and everything to do with half the population being men and her needing to be able to relate to them. Then again I’m a Martian according to popular opinion, so what do I know?) I also fear that whoever my daughter loves, this damage will make it harder to commit, and to fully give herself to loving another human being. I fear that she will always be waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I fear that my daughter’s opportunities will be limited by the failures of her parents. I know that ultimately her success or failure will be of her own making. But I do fear that I am putting road blocks for her success later in life. She may be the one who is ultimately at the wheel of her life’s opportunities, but she may have had a shoddy mechanic working on her engine out of the starting gate. (I never thought I would use a NASCAR reference so be afraid. Be very afraid!)
I fear that I haven’t provided enough for her financially speaking. I worry that she has missed out on some amazing opportunities because of me. It makes me wonder whether I should have taken that second job, or driven for Uber, or sold some of the things that I valued but still found their way into an attic, or some drawer. I want so much more for my daughter than she can possibly imagine and I fear I have come up short.
Beyond my daughter’s happiness I fear that I won’t take advantage of the opportunities that are given me. Whether you believe in God or not, I remember hearing a service where the speaker talked about a dream she had. In it, she was in heaven and God took her down to a warehouse of unopened gifts that she saw. There were tons of exquisitely wrapped gifts everywhere, and names next to all of them. She asked God what the unopened gifts were and why weren’t they given out? God told her that those were all the blessings that were available to people should they be ready for them, but they missed out because they chose a different path. That idea stuck with me. There could be all these amazing things in store if I were just ready to reach out and grab them when they came along.
I know none of us want to admit this as parents. But a big fear of ours is what happens when our children grow up and leave. Whether we want to admit it or not, there has been a big fracturing of society. People grow up and go far away from where they came. They may love their parents but they move on with their lives and love you from afar. I fear what this looks like. Skype is not contact. And being on Facebook, despite meeting some amazing people, is not a replacement for friendship and one on one connection. In fact, studies have shown that Facebook makes you more depressed about the things your aren’t doing or the places you aren’t going. And at this point, with all the politics on Facebook, it is making me depressed watching friendships be thrown away and contacts severed. (I promise to avoid politics on this blog as much as I can. As much as I believe in things, I love people more. And I find them a much more life affirming topic of conversation.)
I fear watching another person slowly withering away from cancer as it first eats away at their body, then their mind, and finally their soul. I have watched my former brother-in-law slowly die from cancer. It was eight months of agony. It was round the clock watches, mind losing outbursts, and heart attack inducing stress. I would never, not be there for a person who had it. But I have seen its devastating effects. I wish for you all that it never happens to you.
These Are Fears Too . . . . I Swear!!!
I fear killer clowns coming down from outer space. I fear millions of poisonous spiders crawling down ceilings and invading a bedroom and a planet near you. I fear Irritable Bowl Syndrome, because, you know, ewww! I fear that cats will figure out a way to take out the dogs from the planet, leaving us without any more dogs to cuddle with. I fear aliens coming down from outer space who will be out to harvest the resources of the planet, which will cause us to wear tin foil hats to protect us from their mind control powers. Because I just don’t look good in a tin foil hat. I fear losing control of this blog to a bunch of crazy irrational fears that I made up from movies. (I think this paragraph belongs in some blog… any blog… somewhere.) Ah yes… fear, real fear. That’s right.
The Ultimate Fear
And ultimately in a moment of quiet silence and meditation, I admit that I fear being alone. This fear I think is by far the most dangerous fear. It makes us do crazy stupid stuff. For men and women, it makes us act as if sex is a replacement for intimacy. We want the intimacy so bad we give away a piece of ourselves to get it with no compensation in return, except hurt feelings. We accept less than what we deserve because we get convinced we believe that we deserve what we get. (This is not an advocation for divorce but a challenge for those living in an abusive situation that you should get out. And please speak to someone to get help.) We constantly put ourselves in dangerous situations because we feed off the high from the attention we get. But it’s like trying to have a meal with all carbs. Sure the bread may taste good and give you immediate energy but you burn out fast and it’s ultimately empty calories. I wish I could say I had done none of that stuff. I wish I could say that I had only made good choices. But that is another person’s story. That is another man’s life.
So is fear evil? Should I simply trash the fear and move on with life as if it didn’t exist? Can I go out into a hurricane and hope the rain and crazy winds will drive away the fear? (I do not advocate doing that at home, or anywhere else for that matter. However, no one will call you fearful. Crazy maybe. I may introduce you to a nice new room with four white walls and pads.) No. No. And what are you? Nuts?!?!
I think fear is in us as a motivator. Fear failure? Do everything to succeed! Fear loss? Spend every moment like it’s your last. Fear loneliness? Love freely as the right person will love you back. Fear boredom? Seek adventure. Fear mountain climbing? Go bungee jumping. Wait no! Don’t do that. Sky-diving. That’s it! Sky-diving.
What I can say about fear is don’t try to rationalize it. We have fears. Some fears are irrational. And some fears are self-perpetuating. Just make fear your slave. Use it. Don’t let it become your master.
Ok, let’s avoid becoming Confucius. Or Taoist. Or Buddhist. Or even Dudeist. (Have to pay my respects to “The Dude”) I don’t have simple answers. And I’m sure I have just as many questions. What I can say is I fear stuff. But each day I’m going doing something about it. Let me know about some of your fears, rational or otherwise. Because fear of the number 13 is a real thing you know! Ok, this is me again, signing off.
David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life