autobiographical,  Sex and Mental Health,  Thoughts,  Wicked Wednesday

Breaking the Fear/Love Binary

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement,and acceptance.”

John Lennon

Sometimes I feel I have only ever known Fear and Love, and at times I have mistaken one for the other. You can imagine then, just how confusing it might be to find that one of your greatest Fears, is in fact, Love itself.

I was saying to  Digitalist just the other day that I’m occasionally struck dumb at the fact that I have an ability to trust or love or form new relationships at all considering the gravity of my fears around love and intimacy. He took the opportunity to remind me that the reasons I have those fears are not for lack of me trying to overcome them and that I’m not responsible for other people’s actions. Sound advice and good perspective. (He’s the best) Yet, all the sensible logic in the world doesn’t stop the Fear response from regularly surfacing as soon as things get serious.

It’s hard to say exactly what the Fear is made up of, because it’s always hauntingly familiar, yet completely foreign. I can recognize it only as a combination of worries and misconceptions, scars and standards, needs borne of trauma and neglect and being deeply misunderstood. It is very hard to feel worthy of Love or as if Love is something that can be for you, not just other people, when the impulse to avoid Love is twisted and controlled by Fears that are too deep and old to have names. They’re just there, lurking, flooding in whenever things start to feel intimate and once they start to invade, it takes everything to fight them off. Historically I lose that battle more often than I win.

That Fear used to cripple me, utterly. At the first sign of it I would retreat from people. I’d pull back, I’d fight and then flee, licking my own wounds, because having shown that the Fear existed, I’d feel I could never go back and if I did, my heart was wrapped in razor wire, packed in ice, locked away. I simply couldn’t accept Love when the Fear spoke so loudly. It took years of consistency and patience on the part of my two Evergreen partners to help me stop the Fear cycle and fully embrace their Love.

Fast forward to new Love, typically the most exhilarating and terrifying experience for me, both desired and utterly avoided. New Love with Digitalist has been different. It has been wildly passionate and intense but the Fear has been mostly quiet. I’ve feel it’s teeth pressing into me at times but the bite never breaks the skin, it hasn’t shaken me like rag doll or made me run and hide. Usually by now the Fear would have taken over and I would be pushing him away, testing him, unable to say that I don’t want him to go, hoping he’d come back.

But he’s a clever man, and an honest man who knows his own mind and he shared, very plainly, very firmly that my Fear is not his fear. He can see my Fear for what it is and it doesn’t phase him and that has flipped a switch for me. If that Fear shows itself I know he’s just going to step around it and keep walking towards me, not away. It has been a revelation to know that if my Fear and I push him away it simply won’t stop him from loving me. Has that slayed the Fear and put it to rest once and for all? No, it still lingers, it licks its rotten fangs and whispers in my ear. But instead of hiding that Fear until I break and run, I simply show the Fear to him and I’m reminded that there are options beyond running and hiding and foresaking Love for Fear.

I may have, with such patience and help, cracked the Love/Fear binary. Ironically it’s the acceptance of both that seems to be unhingeing them from one another. Who knew that all the effort and failed attempts could culminate in this strange and beautiful freedom. I feel a bit like a hostage, finally released, squinting at the sun, but so grateful to feel it’s warmth on my face.


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    • Brigit Delaney

      Great quote to start your piece. It encapsulates your theme perfectly. And I get your fear of love and intimacy. I didn’t even know I had this fear until my OH pointed it out. The things we do to protect ourselves are often uneccessary, but experience (and our interpretation of it) teaches us to do irrational things sometimes. I’m glad you have someone willing to see past it and help you through it.

  • Joy

    There’s so much in this post that makes me happy. Not just for you and him, and your relationship, but also because I know that fear so intimately and am always bouyed and inspired when I read others’ experiences of living with it and thriving despite it.

  • SassyCat

    I think once we know what causes the fear and we can start to better understand it from where it began. We can then move forward, not saying that the fear might creep in every now & again but this time we have knowledge, skills and someone who can guide & direct us (if we allow them too). I say this because I can relate to your words and the fear of love, feeling unworthy at times. Sounds like you have made great progress and have a man who loves you. 🙂

  • missy

    This is a really interesting piece which raises so interesting questions. I am really pleased that you have been able to help each other to find some answers of your own. 🙂

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