What are you afraid of? When you’re afraid, how do you try to hide?
Chances are that the elements you may fear today, whatever age you may be, are fears you’ve known for a very long time.
The genesis of some of my earliest conscious fears is a time when I was about 4 years old. It was Christmas morning, still dark outside, and the house was completely silent. I had no brothers or sisters, and my parents were still asleep. I was lying in bed, wide awake, about to burst with excitement, dying to discover if Santa Claus had left me a miraculous surprise under our Christmas tree.
Finally, when I couldn’t wait any longer, I quietly tiptoed out of my room, down the hallway and into the living room. I caught my breath, eyes as huge as dinner plates, and took in the vision of the twinkling tree surrounded by mountains of gifts. There, right in the middle of the sparkling lights, was a doll about the size of a two-year-old child. She was wearing a yellow flannel nightgown that used to be mine. Squealing with delight, I skipped over to her, scooped her up in my arms and held her close.
On the floor beneath the tree was a large box containing all kinds of dresses and shirts and bonnets that also had once belonged to me. I was thrilled beyond words and couldn’t resist dressing my new doll in a frilly pink dress that was on top of the stack of clothes. Impatiently, I took off the doll’s nightgown and unbuttoned the back of the dress. I tried to pull the dress over the doll’s head but it wouldn’t fit. Her head was too big.
Immediately I began working feverishly to remove the doll’s head so I could put the lacy dress on her. The dress went on perfectly, but then I couldn’t reattach her head.
This was about the time my mother and father woke up and found me under the tree. As soon as my father realized what I had done, he tore the doll away from me and began yelling, shaming me for the seemingly unforgivable thing I’d done – ruining my new doll. I began to sob and wanted nothing more than to disappear through the floor.
I loved my father and always sought desperately to please him. I suspect I had experienced many episodes of rage with him before this particular Christmas morning, but I’m not aware of them. I recall numerous occasions that came later though after he left my mother and me.
The groundwork for my fear of being abandoned, of not being loved, was probably laid down not long after I was born. It wasn’t all because of my father’s brutish and overpowering nature. My mother had no capacity to stand up to him, to speak her truth, to protect herself or me.
As I grew older I learned how to act out with my partners the same kind of relationship dance that my parents had done with each other. For a long time, I continued my pattern of giving up my voice, as my mother had done until I became sick of being afraid and dishonest about who I was and what I wanted.
Let’s return now to the questions I asked you to consider at the beginning of this piece. What are you afraid of? When you’re afraid, how do you try to hide?
I bet you can identify lots of your different fears. These may include fear of being alone, of not having enough, of not being attractive, of not knowing who you are, and of being unappreciated.
You may also use countless ways to try and convince yourself and everyone else that you’re fearless. You can wear a mask of toughness and act like no one can hurt you. You can choose to completely swallow your own desires and go along with what others want. You can be fun-loving all the time and never take anything seriously. You can cover up your insecurity with arrogance and egotism. You can ignore your own needs and be totally caught up in satisfying the needs of others.
Regardless of how you may seek to camouflage your fear, it’s still there. Trying to hide it doesn’t make it disappear, does it? In fact, faking fearlessness often can cause you to feel even more intensely afraid.
If you’re anything like me, and many of the rest of us, the seeds of your biggest fears began to take root before you learned to walk or speak. However, you may never have taken a deep look at those fears and how they’ve influenced the way you show up in the world. You may never have acknowledged the ways you’ve chosen to protect yourself from your fear.
Until this moment.
I’m inviting you to take a minute as you’re reading this article to feel into one of your darkest fears, one that seems to block you from becoming the authentic, joyful human being you’ve always wanted to be. Then take another minute to explore within yourself how that fear first began to take shape.
You don’t need to tell another soul about what you remember and the emotions those memories bring up for you. Or you may want to talk with someone about your feelings – a trustworthy friend, a counselor or therapist or social worker who’s experienced in creating safe emotional space for others. Bringing your fears out of hiding and into the light could potentially help reduce the power they have over you. This could be a key first step in transforming your life.
Another idea you can consider is connecting with me via email (email@example.com) and sharing some of your stories – as I shared mine with you – about what you’re most afraid of, where the fear began, and how you’d like to change.
A major part of my journey on this planet is to grow in truth and fearlessness and to offer that energy of freedom to others. Perhaps, you’re also here to release your fear and become fully real. If so, I’d be honored to hear from you. It’s likely we’ll have a great deal to talk about.
About the Author
Ellen Antill is a spiritual guide and counselor. Her approach to healing is a potent blend of learning from her own life story, 20+ years of professional experience, her master’s degree in sociology of women, and more than 6 years of Ka Ta See counseling study with Ken Robinson, a Ka Ta See elder (www.eraoftheheart.com). Ka Ta See, which means “thriving in balance from the heart,” is a shamanic tradition of healing and storytelling that originated in Peru more than 50,000 years ago. It is a way of being that is based on unconditional love and acceptance for yourself and others.
Ellen lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Feel free to contact her to arrange your free discovery session, to learn how you can wake up to the truth of who you are and everything you want in your life.
Ellen Antill, M.A. Thriving in Wholeness www.thrivinginwholeness.com (505) 577-3930 firstname.lastname@example.org
(Copyright © 2019 by Ellen Antill. All rights reserved worldwide.)
Disclaimer: The Daily Brunch does not hold the rights to the images.