Over the summer we received some upsetting health news about a close family member. Until that moment I’d been fired up by the notion that, as soon as the kids went back to school, I’d be able to finally sit down and really think about what I wanted to do with my life, how I wanted my future to look, and what steps I could take to get there.
When the bad news fell, I instantly felt as if the rug had been pulled out from under me, robbing me of this chance to finally get my personal shit together.
It’s not the first time this has happened, so I launched instantly into what my therapist calls a “behavior pattern.”
Woe is me. The rug has been pulled out from under me. All options have been instantly wiped from the board. Why does life keep doing this to me? When will I ever get to be in control of my own damn life? I might as well give up now since I’ll clearly have no say in what my future holds.
She’s sweet, so she listened patiently. Nodded in all the right places. Made all the right sympathetic sounds. Then she sent me on my way with a comforting smile.
A week later, before I launched into a completely unrelated tangent, she very quietly mentioned that there was something she wanted to say in response to what I’d vented about the week before. She’s wily my therapist. When she says something quietly it’s usually extra important.
This time she had to repeat it a few times before I really heard her.
“I think you’re choosing to bury one fear under another.”
I blustered, brushed it off, tried to distract her with some Class-A posturing about how strong I am and how I can take it all, whatever.
So she repeated what she said.
“I think you’re choosing to bury one fear under another. I think you’re scared of failure or success and so you’re latching on to the fear that’s going to get you out of facing it.”
When you’re so good at bullshitting that you even manage to bullshit yourself, it’s good to have a person who sees right through you.
Even if it sucks in that very moment.
Having made me squirm for a few minutes, she had the grace to let the conversation jump to a different topic, knowing full well that I’d keep noodling what she said long after we said our goodbyes.
She’s not wrong.
Part of me had been excited about the chance to figure out what’s next. But really part of me was downright terrified. So, when the medical news came, news which won’t, in all reality, alter my day to day life a whole lot, I didn’t just slide into my usual “behavior pattern” I dove head first into it with wild abandon.
So here’s today’s unvarnished truth.
I’m pushing myself out of my usual pattern and facing the cold, stark reality, that in fact, there’s nothing really stopping me from trying to figure out what’s next. Nothing other than my fear.
Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear that what I choose won’t be as fulfilling as I hope. Fear that I’m not enough. That I’ll never be enough. Fear that, just maybe, there isn’t something out there that will ever leave me feeling completely fulfilled. Fear that really this is all there is.