One of the most important things we can on our own behalf, as survivors of trauma, is to surround ourselves with healthy, supportive, and encouraging people. By doing, no only are we advocating for ourselves and ensuring that we receive the support that we need, but we also provide the same type of validation for others. It’s a win-win for sure!
Don Shetterly was the first person who reached out to me, as a fellow blogger, when I started Surviving My Past. We struck up a friendship nearly immediately and began not only sharing tips as bloggers, but also encouraging each other as advocates and survivors of trauma.
Don has guest blogged for me before, Hope for Healing as a Male Survivor, and I in turn also post on his site as a contributor. I respect his writing tremendously, and respect him as a person even more. Thank you Don for your friendship, your encouragement, and your unwavering advocacy for others in their healing journey.
Have you seen it? Do you know where is it hiding? You know who I’m looking for, right? Our good ol buddy Fear. Yep, Fear is elusive. It’s quick. Fear runs as fast as it can, but it seems fear is lurking around every corner.
One of biggest challenges I have had to endure in my healing is dealing with fear. Fear has taken me down a few times. It has chopped my knees off. Fear has paralyzed me – – literally. Fear has said, I’m in control and you’re not.
There have been times I was afraid to go out of my house, go to the store, go to work. There have been times I have been afraid to talk on the phone, email someone. There are the familiar times of not being able to close my eyes at night or turn off any of the lights in my house.
I’ve had times where fear was lurking underneath my bed. There were moments that I was too afraid to come downstairs at night because of the fears I thought were beyond my windows. Darkness is not my friend. Fear hides in the darkness of the unknown.
There were times in my healing that fear permeated every part of my memory, making it almost impossible to bring out the experiences that were impacting my life. I feared that I would be found out by those who did this to me. I feared that I would be punished for anything I said. I feared that I would lose every resemblance of my life if I dared open up those experiences and push past the fear.
Fear kept my anger locked within me not knowing how to deal with it or how to work through it. Fear told me that if I let the anger come out, it would be explosive and I might hurt others like others had hurt me. Fear told me that anger was bad and I should only focus on happiness, but in the end, it almost killed me.
I’ve felt fear lurking wherever I go and not a darn thing would stop it, help it, or stand up to it. It was an existence and I cowered in the corner hoping it would go away.
When my older brother called my place of employment telling them he was coming after me, even though he didn’t know where I lived, I could not sleep for an entire week. I kept a shovel and a baseball bat close to the door as my eyes would never close. Fear was the only thing I knew at that moment.
When I tried to talk to a therapist about some of the horrible memories and experiences I had of being sexually abused as a child, I feared that the ones who did this to me would find out. It was hard for my therapist to convince me that they didn’t know I was talking to her or what I was saying, and they didn’t know where I lived. I trusted very few in those days. Fear was the only thing I knew at that moment.
When I went to school to become a massage therapist, I knew it was the right step, but I was so afraid of being touched – even if it was healthy touch. My body would go numb and I would barely feel anyone’s hands on me. I was frightened to feel. I didn’t believe there was anything such as good touch. Fear was the only thing I knew at that moment.
When the rash came up and covered my entire body, I was left feeling exasperated and alone and unwanted. How could anyone want me when my body could not stand to be touched, or when I looked at it in horror and disbelief? No matter what commercial product or alternative therapy I applied to my body, the rash continued. It continued until I went in with the strong nonjudgmental love and support of a healer and allowed the pain to come out. Fear was the only thing I knew at that moment.
I’ve come a long way since these days with fear. It no longer completely runs my life. Yes, it tries. Yes, I still get scared. Yet, I’m conquering it little by little. I’m learning to trust myself more and more. I’m learning to open my eyes and see it for what it is.
In a poem called the “Fear Poem” by Joy Harjo, she talks about dealing with fear. If you have not heard her read this poem, it is powerful. It is very healing and it has helped me overcome so much of my fear. Make sure you check out the Fear Poem (Link: https://mindbodythoughts.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-fear-poem.html )
In one line of the poem, Joy Harjo tells Fear, “Oh, you have choked me, but I gave you the leash.” I love this line because even though I feel like fear is more powerful than me at times, I realize that I gave it the leash. I am allowing it to have control over me by choking me.
In the line that I love the most in this poem, it says “But come here, fear, I’m alive and you are so afraid of dying.” In my healing, I’ve learned to just stand up and tell fear to come here because I am alive. I am the one in control. I am the one that makes the decision to hold on to the fear or let it go. I do so by telling it that I’m alive and it is so afraid of dying.
Often dealing with fear is a step by step process where we conquer it and then if it shows up again, we stomp it back down. That’s healing. That’s the way you build up strength to take it on. Those little successes become bigger successes until fear pales in comparison to your strength.
Fear does play a role in the life of a human. Everyone has it. The thing we need to keep telling ourselves is that so often we give it the leash to choke us, but we are the ones that are alive while it is so afraid of dying.
– Don Shetterly – MindBodyThoughts.Blogspot.com
Picture of Don Shetterly used with his permission. Feature image taken by Don Shetterly. Social media images courtesy of Pixabay and Canva.