fear less


In Webster’s Dictionary, it is defined as an unpleasant feeling of apprehension or distress caused by the presence or anticipation of danger.

In the Thesaurus, the word fear is synonymous with terror, dread, horror, fright, panic, alarm, trepidation and apprehension.

Some people wake up with it, some folks go to bed with it, and some of us even carry it around like a handbag – clutching it, holding on to it with every fiber in our being. We are afraid of being abandoned, being disappointed, being left behind, being dismissed, being discarded, being successful, being a failure, being defeated and being forgotten. We’re afraid of being loved, being hated, being recognized, being looked over, being found out, being happy, being depressed. We’re afraid of life, and we’re afraid of death.

We push it down, suppress it, ignore it, transfer it, obliterate it, annihilate it, repeat it, and dismiss it. We give it power, control, time and energy. It keeps us knotted in a ball and our stomachs churning – we become tense and angry, resentful and bitter. It works its way through our bodies like a tapeworm – slipping and sliding through our systems and when it hits a nerve, the nerve – whoa – paralysis. And then what? We try to get rid of the fear. We’re afraid someone’s going to leave us, so we pick up the phone and start calling incessantly. We’re afraid someone won’t like us or love us, so we do everything humanly possible to get that persons attention. We’re afraid we’re not good enough or worthy enough, so we manipulate or strategize how we can be needed or wanted. We’re afraid of failure, so we sabotage every opportunity. We’re afraid of our own opinions, so we lie. We’re afraid of being powerful, so we make ourselves small. We’re afraid of being found out, so we keep ourselves at a distance.

Oh, the list is long.

One way we deal with fear is by making it the very foundation of our lives – in other words, our jumping off point. It becomes the place where we make decisions, make choices, and take action.

While most human beings – at least the ones I know – have a garden variety of fears, I will use one of my very own ‘personal, favorite’ experiences as an example. For many years, more than I care to divulge, I dated men who were absolutely toxic. By toxic I mean self-involved, arrogant, insecure, and abusive men. And the more they didn’t want me, oh, the more I wanted them. If they didn’t call, I would call them – incessantly I might add – making up excuses as to why I needed to speak with them. If they didn’t show me affection, well, then, I would shower them with affection. Not to mention buying them gifts that ranged from small and cute, to expensive and extravagant. All the while, my insides were desperately churning away. As I write this, the image that comes to mind is a hamster wheel. It was as if I was trying to keep up with the fears that were overpowering and overwhelming me, and all I kept doing was taking what I thought was the appropriate action, making the appropriate causes to have a good healthy loving relationship. But what I was really doing was taking action to get rid of the fear. And so, it would just perpetuate, a different man, but exactly the same experience. And like every bad horror movie, the boogeyman fear monster would come back and be bigger and more frightening then the previous time.

Then a friend of mine told me I needed to understand the fear – to not just know what it is, but to look it smack in the eye and understand the root of it. Holy shit. When I rattled off all my fears, alphabetically I might add, he said, “It’s just one fear.” So much for thinking I had it under control. The concept of getting to the root of the fear took on a visual meaning for me. My image was that of weeds, spreading carelessly throughout a beautiful garden. You can’t just deadhead weeds. They’ll grow back even more abundantly. You have to pull them out by their very roots so that they stop growing.

After a few weeks, I became completely focused. My single-minded thought and prayer was to understand the fear, and get to the very root of it. What finally occurred to me was that I was deeply afraid of being abandoned. It was connected to a childhood trauma, one that I neatly tucked away and conveniently forgot about. As soon as I understood what the fear was, I completely and utterly understood why I took the action I did – the action I took perfectly matched the fear I was experiencing. I was afraid of being left, so I did everything humanly possible to hold on to these men. A phrase that ran through my mind was ‘desperate breeds desperate’.

The minute I understood my behavior, it all made sense. A few days later, literally, I met Ken. And I determined that I would no longer be held hostage by my fear. For two weeks every time the fear took hold of me (and trust me, I was in a fucking head lock), I let it run through me like the flu. When I felt the impulse to call because I hadn’t heard from him, I talked myself out of it. When I felt the urge to buy him a little gift, a little trinket, I bought myself something instead. I reminded myself every single day, over and over, that if he didn’t want to be with me, well then …. I certainly didn’t wanna be with him. Period. It took everything in my power to control my urge to try and hold onto him. After all, my behavior had become a self-destructive free fall. After two weeks of doing battle with my own personal boogeyman fear monster, it no longer had power or control over me, and just like that, the fear upped and left and quite naturally Ken took its place at the table. And he’s been sitting there every since. We’ve been married for almost twenty years.

What I realized, what I’ve come to understand, the minute you have the courage to look something smack in the eye – whether it be a person, a challenge, an obstacle, or even the monster boogeyman, the minute you connect with it, the minute you face it – it no longer has control over you.

In other words, set yourself free & keep hope alive.


Category: Uncategorized 10 comments »

10 Responses to “fear less”

  1. Caroline

    Always love this one Amy!!!! Just great!!! xoxo

  2. Robyn Hatcher

    Wow! Love this. So in sync! Just wrote a post about fear today! (and mentioned YOU)

  3. madgew

    Great post. Love you Amy Ferris.

  4. Katherine Jenkins

    Hi Amy,
    What’s with fear today? We are all writing on the topic ^_^! Love this piece…fear comes in many shapes and sizes, but, yes….it’s all the same thing! I find life to flow much better when I face it head on. It’s all created by own minds anyway…and boy is it sneaky!

  5. Vickie Stahl

    This is perfect timing. This is why I love reading everything you write. It’s almost as if you know what is nagging at us. I have a fear of rejection and sit on my work until it’s damn near perfect, which it never is.

    Screw it! No more fear, just balls out nerve! Thanks Amy!

  6. Hollye Dexter

    This is beautiful!
    Replace fear with LOVE- that’s my motto.

    I love this story.

  7. Cherry Woodburn

    “Taking action to get rid of the fear.” I did that incessantly in my relationships with men. I never cast it that way though, in 8 simple words. So clear that way. and it doesn’t sound as dark, as if there was something wrong with me. I was just taking care of myself because at that point I didn’t know a better way to take care of myself.

    another good one, Cherry

  8. Debra DeAngelo

    And… when it comes to getting out of the fear cave…. sometimes the escape is in the darkest corner. You have to be willing to go into the dark place if you’re going to survive.

  9. Melody J Haislip

    Regarding fear, in its many incarnations, this is something I wrote in a recent article: “In looking into several dictionary definitions, I found that fear, and all of its synonyms, such as dread, apprehension, terror and the rest, deal with being afraid of a future event which may or may not ever take place! In other words, giving time, emotion and brain space to such an activity is wasteful.” I decided I didn’t have enough of my life left to waste any of it on fear and its hateful cousins. Bravo to you for conquering your fears!

  10. Judy N

    Really a strong piece. I love the metaphors about handbags and tapeworms. Just perfect.

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