Today I’m writing about my great Adversary, the Arch Enemy in the narrative of my life – Fear. When I was a child (and I feel that part of me is that child still) I always dreamed of being a heroine. I loved reading books where the main character was a girl or a woman. Someone who takes control of her own life and does something no one ever thought she was capable of. Someone born for a great destiny. Someone full of love and laughter and thirst for adventure. Someone who daringly confronts external monsters and her own inner demons. Someone ready to fight for her kingdom, or her family, or her loved one. Someone like Éowyn from Lord of the Rings. Someone fearless.
I think that as a child I lived as a heroine. I didn’t fear anything. I would stand up for those who were bullied at school. I was feeding stray cats and fighting for animal rights in my own little ways. I would confront teachers who, I felt, were abusing their power. I was playing main parts in school plays, publishing a magazine about cats (and somehow convincing my classmates to buy it regularly), writing songs and singing them in front of my whole class. I don’t know what happened to that girl.
When I became a teenager, something absolutely terrible happened. I made the acquaintance of Fear. He came with all sorts of sweet promises that he’s going to make my life so much better, that he will protect me from ever getting hurt, that he will make everyone love me. He said that the life I was living cannot go on for much longer without me getting hurt, and that he’s here to protect me. On the other hand, he was always whispering some horrible things into my ear, saying that I’m not good enough, that I won’t ever be good enough, I’m too much, I’m too little, I have to be like everyone else, I have to be invisible. He kept feeding me these lies, then telling me that he’s the one who’s going to protect me from all sorts of bad things happening. I suddenly started caring so much about what everyone else thought of me, constantly comparing myself to other girls, trying to make myself prettier, to stand out less, to make people who I didn’t care about like me. Every day, year by year, Fear was pretending to be my friend and telling me he’s showing me the world as it is, he’s teaching me what I should be.
And I believed him.
He told me that my dad left us because he didn’t love me, and that no man is ever going to love me unless I make myself into this painted doll with nothing much to say. He told me that my uniqueness is a bad thing, that as a woman I shouldn’t strive to slay dragons, that I shouldn’t be too intelligent or too interesting or too daring. He told me that I should stop defending other people because soon enough the attackers will turn on me.
Fast forward to eight years later. I’m going through episodes of depression, constant social anxiety, my self-worth is pretty much zero. I can’t look at myself in the mirror, have no dreams, no aspirations. I’m an extrovert who is afraid to go out because I fear people are going to reject me. I contemplate joining a theatre group but the sole thought of standing on the stage, naked, vulnerable makes my blood go cold. I get into a series of relationships with people who either have drug problems or who don’t appreciate my personality – they drag me around because they like how I look I guess. I’m indifferent to life, spending time with my friends doesn’t give me any joy anymore. I have no motivation for anything but I’m still constantly trying to find someone or something that would prove to me that I am good enough.
Fast forward to this year. About a week ago, I decided to break up with Fear. I know he’s going to pursue me and try to draw me back into our toxic relationship. I know that I will give in and agree to hang out with him many many times. But every time I fall back into his claws, I’ll get out again. I have to believe it because I realise that what Fear essentially did to my life is make me a spectator of my own play. Instead of performing in it, I’m watching passively and helplessly as it unfolds. And it’s not going the way the Playwright wanted it to be. Fear is the director, and he doesn’t care about the story I wanted to tell. So I decided to fire him.
I’m doing things that I’m absolutely terrified of now but I force myself to do them because I want to do them. I realise that no matter how long I sit on my bed and meditate the possibility that one day Fear will end our relationship himself and let me go, this is never going to happen. He enjoys sucking life out of me. That’s what he feeds on. And I will fight, if I have to I’ll scratch his eyes out but he will let me go. Maybe not in a month, perhaps not even in a year. But every day I’ll strive to see him less and less, and to gain the confidence to live my life the way I want to because I have such thirst for it. My heart is full of longing for adventure, for creativity, for new acquaintances and new experiences. Fear told me that all these things are bad and dangerous. But I know now he’s a liar.
And I’m claiming my life back.