I was never a very curious person by nature. It always took crisis to motivate me to seek answers.
Fear found me quite suddenly. Just a moment. That's all it took. A split second. My life pivoted and all darkness became all I knew.
I lived in fear of fear itself. It controlled every waking moment. It sought me out as I slept. I asked its permission before I took any action. I requested it's advice before I allowed a thought to turn into a sentence. I became a puppet, beholden to its every whim.
Fear changed me mentally. It stripped away my personality. Made me hollow. It put a slant on the world that made it unbearable.
Everything was pointless.
Everywhere I looked all I could see was the gossamer thin line between normality and disaster. I could not believe that people were unaware of how quickly life could change. Of how easily a person can be broken.
My world was now made entirely of glass. Hour after hour I would do nothing more than sit and brace myself for the next part of it to shatter.
Fear became my identity. It seeped through my pores like ink until I could feel it had saturated every cell in my body.
That's when I reached the point where I felt indelibly marked. Like I would never be cleansed of it. That's when I knew I had to either seek a way to be cleansed or give up on any semblance of normality for the rest of my life.
I tried everything. Really I couldn't even begin to put a list together for you. It took years of relentless seeking. Nothing worked. I approached it more aggressively than anything I've ever tackled in my life. I had no choice. I knew that if I gave up and accepted that fear was my permanent set point then I wouldn't last very much longer in this world.
Then one day I found it. And it was like entering the wrong code into a safe for years and then suddenly finding the correct combination. It was instant.
And all I had done was switch my focus from fear to love.
And everybody under the age of 10 knows this. Instinctively.
I worked with children for 15 years. Children are tiny human geniuses. They are rarely afraid. They never discriminate. And their default setting is unconditional love. The fifteen years I worked with tiny humans I would hear the phrase "I Love You Miss Armstrong" countless times a day. Because children drop the phrase I Love You like adults say Hello. And they mean it.
Children only feel fear fleetingly. Because love and fear and are really hard to maintain side by side. One has to give way to let the other in.
It seemed worth a go anyway.
So: Instead of getting up and looking for things to be afraid of, I tried to find one thing I could look at that I loved. Instead of letting fear play on a permanent loop in my thoughts, I started to look for one thing I could feel only love for. At first it was my dog. He was very easy to only love. After a few weeks I could find inanimate objects to love. Really daft ones. After a few months I tried people. It didn't work though. Not at first.
People are quite hard to only feel love for. Individually they are too many variables to a person. They can hurt us. Disappoint us. Reject us. It takes too much discipline to start by loving a person. Adults aren't emotionally equipped for it.
It took me years to be able to focus on loving people no matter what they did, or how I felt about them. But the pay-off was indescribable. Every time I found something I could love, I felt fear loosening it vice-like grip on me.
I could function again. Look people in the eye. Have a conversation. Sleep. Eat. The world became a manageable place.
Love like this is the most liberating thing I have ever experienced. It freed me from the prison of my mind. Helped repair my body. It transformed me on every level.
Sometimes people mistake my love for weakness. I'm not a challenge to them. It doesn't matter what you do to me. What you say about me. How you treat me. I will always love you. Some people find this very unattractive. But I will keep on loving you whether you like it or not.
I can't afford not to.
I don't always get it right. Sometimes I let a situation get under my skin. I know this because if I do then my old companion fear slips back in and makes itself known. And I know where this emotion will lead me.
Back to a small room I am too afraid to leave.
All I have is my own personal experience. I can't enforce it upon another person. I would never dream of doing so. The only advice I can ever give is if it is stumbled upon by another fellow desperate seeker.
Someone who is feeling quite unsettled by the world they live in.
In which case I would say to them:
•focus on love and fear cannot be felt
•look at every child under the age of 10 you can and learn everything you can from their example.
•keep seeking. Not all who wander are lost. Some are just ensuring the answers can find them.
I Love You x