The Life of Emotions: An Ode to Fear


I woke from my delirium today to that familiar feeling. You remember the feeling don't you? I'm sure I've written to you about it before. It's that feeling I've been running from, likely the reason I used to fear going to bed at night. I've always had difficulty labelling this feeling, but it's one strong enough to bring me to a "no napping for life" policy. This feeling used to haunt me in the early morning hours, springing up inside me just moments after opening my eyes. And from time to time it still devastates me with its presence. As my mind scrambles to wake up, to decipher the fragments of my dreams and to compartmentalize my dreams from my reality, I feel it again. This feeling, if I must label it, would lie somewhere between depression and disappointment, and would ultimately lead to a state of despondence.  But today, in this familiar state, something happened differently. Instead of being led further into the darkness by the feeling, I was led into the light. I was enlightened. Today this feeling taught me something about myself, and shed light on the reason as to why I've been feeling so terrible lately.

I'm afraid.

I know that's not new. I've likely been afraid each day of my existence, and fear will likely play a role each day for the rest of my life. Fear does have its purpose, after all. But if I've ever been so fearful in this particular way, I highly doubt. I'm not afraid someone I love is going to die, like I was when I was a kid waiting for my mom to return home, anxious and worried. I'm not afraid I'm going to have my heart broken in a romance, like I have been in various parts of my adolescent years. I'm not afraid I'm going to fail, or be wrong, or be inadequate, like I have been many times before.

I'm afraid, this time, on a more basic level. The truth is, dear diary, I'm afraid I'm not going to be okay. I'm genuinely afraid and concerned about my own well being, that my basic needs aren't going to be met. I'm afraid that my journey towards achieving my dreams may be inadvertently leading me into a life where I'm no longer safe, fed, clothed, warm, that I'll have no one to turn to for help, or that I'll be too stubborn to ask, allowing myself to waste away quietly in the background and perish.

I realize that this fear leads back to that question. I feel comfort in thinking that this question isn't just my own to bear the burden of, but a burden for anyone in this world struggling with passion versus security. Perhaps this is applicable, then, to everyone.

The question, essentially is: Must I spend my life paying rent? Must I live just to survive? And ultimately, can't my life have a greater, deeper meaning?

I think these questions must have crossed my mind before, but perhaps they were just never so applicable to my life to be able to withdraw or deposit such a strong feeling of fear. Now, I suppose, with all my prior securities torn from me - by my own hands, indeed - it's only natural for me to have these fears, to have these strange thoughts, and to be feeling this terrifying, menacing emotion.

So as I sat helpless, allowing it to consume me, I allowed it to come through. I allowed the pain and the fear to show itself, and I acknowledged it for what it was. And as my mind clawed for ways to find solace, a little voice in my head gave me the answer: write about it. 

So with few other options, I did. I wrote about it. And in doing so, I gave it understanding. I began to feel relief at this new discovery. I realized that the more I understood my fear and its complexity, the more I saw its deep, dirty roots, the more it seemed I robbed it of its power. And the more I wrapped my brain around the need for its presence, and its inherent purpose which must be to simply protect me, the more I changed the way I perceived it. I learned in this moment to have sympathy, compassion, and love for my fear. I learned to look it straight in the eyes and smile at it. I showed my gratitude and I gave it my thanks.

Instead of reacting to my fear like I normally would, by allowing it to consume me and take over my mind and my life, I acknowledged its presence, gave it the attention it deserved, and asked it politely to take a back seat.

And by doing that, I disempowered my fear, allowing my rational self to climb back into the driver's seat. I took hold on the steering wheel of my mind, driving it back to safety and positivity. And I realized that I, too, was capable of compartmentalizing my emotions by way of rational thought.

So I did what anyone would do, and took fear out of the "me" category and put it where it belongs, and where it should always stay: in the "feelings" category.

 Alexa Suter