We all fear something.
No earth shattering news there.
For some it is a ‘thing’ they fear, some fear a person, others fear change, some fear the dark, on and on.
We all fear something.
If you say that you don’t you’re lying.
This story is about my process of overcoming my fear of people and realizing where that fear has been hiding in me and how I have come to recognize it and release myself from its unrelenting desire to obstruct my view of a free and fearless life.
It is also about understanding what fear is and how many different types there are. It isn’t as simple as just being afraid of something. Not by a long shot. It’s about understanding what it is you fear and conquering it.
As children, everything we see is big, regardless of its size. Everything is big, even if you can hold it in your hand. When you discover something, a process, a thing, a person, that something, process, thing, person, is huge. It is all that you know for that moment, for a day, or maybe longer. At some point you move on and discover something new.
Everything towers over you, whether it is a ‘thing,’ or knowledge, or person. For me, people were the biggest. My grandmother, Ellen, whom I called Gammy (Gah-mie) was the biggest person in my life. My father’s mother.
She couldn’t wait to get ahold of me when my mother needed to hand me off for the day. My parents divorced when I was eight years old in 1962. My mother had three young boys to care for instantly, as well as conduct her own life. One, my youngest brother, was still just a baby that she was now responsible for. He was barely two years old in 1962, February. Gammy saw that I was alone on an island so she took it upon herself to be my guide. I am thankful for that today. She passed in 1970. I was 16 years old. It crushed me when she passed on. The sun was gone from my sky and there was nothing handy to replace it with.
I was a wide-eyed boy. I wanted to know why things worked. I wanted to see the parts that made a thing work while it was working. If I had a dollar for everything that I took apart and never put back together, I would be a rich man. If I had a dollar for everything that I put back together, I wouldn’t be rich. Yes, I put nearly everything back together with butter knives and spoons. I owned no tools as a small boy but I knew how to make tools from anything. A butter knife was a screw driver, the end of a finger nail file worked well as a Philips screw driver, tweezers worked well as a pair of tiny pliers. Imagination worked well as a tool box to keep them in.
So, with this realm of inquisitiveness living in my head, I wanted to know all that I could know. I am still that way today. Read my telescope story. It has a lot of this attitude in it. My telescope and bike were two tools that facilitated my being able to discover, as you can well see or imagine. I stood back from nothing, I balked at nothing. I dived in head first every time. I never, ever, bullied anyone.
What does this ‘inquisitiveness’ have to do with fear? As I always say, “I’m glad you asked.”
This need to understand and know things lead me into situations without thinking first. There was no fear, therefore I followed my nose everywhere.
At around eight or nine years old, I was playing in a yard of a friend of my mother’s one day. My mother was in the house where we were visiting. I was playing alone, just a little guy in the yard. I’ve written about this in another entry about bullying and being bullied. A kid I had never seen before walked over to me from across the street, looked at me, said “Hey you.” I looked up and he hit me in the face with his fist. This was the very first time I had ever been assaulted or bullied. I had a bloody nose. I ran inside, got my nose plugged, was dragged outside by my mother and asked, “Who did this to you?” The kid was gone.
I then knew fear.
Well, as I had now been introduced to fear, I started to distrust people. Eight years old, I was starting to question people in my mind. Of course, I didn’t know this was happening at the time, but as I look back on the event today I can see that it WAS happening. ‘Doubt’ at just eight years old. A sad beginning.
As I have written about in my other entries, I was alone with two younger brothers after the divorce. I was the ‘protector.’
Without a doubt, my mother at this point in the aftermath of her divorce, was very desperate and anxious. It was no longer possible for her to stay home and take care of her three young boys. I don’t doubt that she was overwhelmed with despair. Three young boys, no real world employment skills, very naive to life. She gave me birth at 18 years old in a very different world than today. It was 1954 when I was born, the first of three at three years apart. 1954 then 1957 then 1960.
Well, everyday, for a few years, we were all separated. I was with Gammy, Kevin was out in Central Park (east of Aberdeen by a couple of miles) and Kary was being baby-sat. The bomb had dropped in our house and shrapnel was everywhere.
Ok, I will get to the fear I am writing about.
After the divorce, us kids split up for a while. Then, finally, when we were together again, I was assigned as the overseer. I was at least three or four years older, approaching 16 years old. I washed clothes, dishes, dressed everyone, made sure homework was done and everyone was in bed on time.
As time marched on, my fear somewhat subsided. Us kids were usually alone at home, doors locked, TV running constantly. Gilligan’s Island, The Munsters, Adams Family, Wild, Wild West, the normal stuff.
Mother would come home late, bring burgers, a new friend. Yada, yada, yada. I’ve been over this in other parts of this blog site.
One time, a guy my mother had trusted to watch over us molested my younger brother in “that way.” He made Kary and me watch. It was pretty disgusting. The first guy I ever learned to fear that was always around. As far as I know, the abuse was only that one time. It was a nasty thing to see. I cried. He didn’t care. Kary was too young to understand what was happening. I still see it in my head, nearly 50 years later. I feared that I would someday be assaulted. I never was. I never have been.
Well, he wasn’t around for long, but his family was a part of the small community of Aberdeen, WA. where I grew up, where all of this took place. I would see him, and/or his family members again through the years that I lived in Aberdeen. At one point, in the late 1970s I would work with the oldest brother. George. No friendly sort either.
Well, time passed as time does.
In Jr. High School, there was Mr. Redifer. He was scary. If you looked at him sideways, you got a hack with a size 13 hightop Converse tennis shoe. It hurt too. He was a Phys Ed. teacher. Once he told me to climb a rope that we were all required to climb. You know, the ones with the knots to help you climb. It hangs from the gym ceiling. I couldn’t. I tried, I failed. Two problems were involved. I wasn’t a strong kid, secondly, I don’t care for heights. At the time, mid 1960s, the heights thing wasn’t recognized yet as a fear, at least not for ‘kids’ to have, so I didn’t know I could say something about it, and had I said anything about it, I would have been laughed at and face the size 13 tennis shoe.
Well, I tried, failed, then was told to try again and failed again. I couldn’t climb the rope. Mr. Redifer told me to sit it out and that I would get a hack later. I figured, the damage is done, I’m sitting it out for the whole class period. To hell with it. I’m getting a hack, no need to rub it in. Class ended, I got the hack, was sent to the office, told them, I got switched to Mr. Widekind’s class. There was no pity what so ever. He was just as unforgiving. Fear of Physical Ed. class. I went through the same thing in math class. As a boy, I could not get a grip on numbers and math and I was afraid to say anything.
Fear of teachers, fear of being less than just a kid, fear of being afraid of heights, fear of ridicule, fear of walking out of the class at the bell and being harassed in the hallway. Just getting started. Yeah, I hated school, not because of the work, but because of the cold hearted treatment I received. You must understand, I had no big brother, no father at home, a mother just barely holding it together and I was shy, reserved, non-violent and very insecure. I never struck back. What else would a bully want in a kid? Fear. Just fear.
Most of the time, I was afraid of being beaten up. I have never been able to bring myself to hit a person or an animal. Don’t get me wrong, I experience frustration and anger just as anyone else does, but I have never been able to manifest it or relieve it in a violent way. More times than not, I just dismiss it and walk away from the situation that brings it on. Not a solution that I was ever taught but it just always seemed to be the right thing to do, so that’s what I have always done and still do.
There was an uncle, my father, an aunt whom I feared. Outside of my family, there were many, but I could always walk away from them. My family? No. They were constant.
I am not going to list all the times and places I met the triggers for my fear, or where I discovered new types of fear, but I am going to describe and attempt to identify all the constituents of fear.
Fear of personal harm is a very primal fear. We all experience it and it appears within us before all other fears. Very understandable and acceptable. But that isn’t all.
My fears usually stemmed from seeing people be mean to others. Fear that they would be hurt. I was bullied as a kid, as I have stated, so I had a fear early on of other people. My biggest fear was grounded in not knowing what people were going to do in situations where their actions made the biggest difference. Small, short decisions that led to very drastic and long-lasting effects.
I have always intended to do good for others. Since I was just a boy, I have always wanted to help. Being so allowed me to start off being naive, trusting, compassionate. Those qualities can be compromised and contained, or suppressed, with little effort. You can make someone dislike you much more easily and quicker than you can cause people to like and trust you. It takes nearly no effort to incite the former, but it takes quite a bit to get that trust back.
Fear of heights. That’s me. I certainly do. I discovered this fear as a young man working as a grunt for a construction company on the west coast. Doing roof work was nearly impossible for me. Honestly, I can say that I wasn’t afraid of falling as much as I was absolutely uncomfortable with being that far above the ground.
Fear of deep water. I can’t get myself to enter any area of water where I can’t touch a solid bottom even if I can see the bottom. I can swim well enough but can’t journey into depths deeper than me standing with my head above water. I do not know what it is that I fear in this case. It’s not fear of what may be in the water. I just can’t do it. Very weird.
But those are all fears that are just somewhat unreasonable.
The fear I am looking at here is a very deep-rooted, unrecognizable fear.
My mother passed on in January 2001, just two days short of her 65th birthday. It was a surprise. I honestly believe that she knew that she was going. Myself and my two younger brothers did not. We knew that she was in a bad way, but certainly did not expect to hear of her passing so quickly. She never revealed to us how ill she was.
The fear that was a part of this situation, for me, was that she was not getting proper help and attention. She was living 150 miles away from me. I was, and had been for 20 years, living in Seattle. She passed in the hospital. Her sister was there with her. LuAnne had walked into the restroom in her room. When she returned, mother had passed. I can’t imagine the pain LuAnne felt. They were very close as sisters and as young women, often mistaken for each other in public places. Mom had cancer caused from tobacco smoking. It was declared in her death certificate. 10 years earlier, when she was living in Fairbanks, AK., she had gone to a doctor complaining of chest pains. He blew her off as having indigestion. Yes, similar symptoms of heart disease. This diagnosis was the root of the fear I mentioned above. This misdiagnosis would eventually exacerbate her death. It was never investigated again until is was ultimately too late.
A reasonable fear, justified and a fear rooted in love. I loved my mother more than she would have ever known. We had some extreme, abrasive moments, but we never dismissed each other or harbored hate of each other. She was hard-headed but she was ‘mom.’
My father has cancer and is in remission. He is not doing well. He will be 81 years old in December 2013.
My father is a ‘devout’ atheist. Fine with me. He has never seemed happy in his life. I know not whether it is because of how he was treated as a boy or due to his non-belief in anything spiritual, his racism or what. I know his father was an atheist, racist and always seemed unhappy. I didn’t know grandpa for very long, but he always seemed angry. The fact is that I have feared my father since the day I remember knowing anything about him, and that goes back to when I was just eight years old. Violent nature, always angry at my mother or someone, always used foul language around everyone. He was always scary. I feared him for a year when I stayed with him and my step mother in my senior year of high school. Uncontrolled anger was always looming in the room.
How does fear figure into this?
I have a fear that my father will never know the true me. He knew me as a baby boy back in the mid 1950s, but by the time I was eight years old, mom and dad had divorced. He tried very hard to keep custody of us three boys through the divorce proceedings, but it wasn’t to be. He lost. After the divorce, he would make trips back to our town from Seattle every few months, but on those occasions he rarely took us anywhere. Never to a carnival, never fishing, never to the park, never to the movies, on and on. Eventually, he just stopped coming around. Yes, I fear for him not knowing me, but it isn’t anything I can change. I have tried. I have asked him ‘why?’ He becomes defensive when I ask and pry. At this sitting, he no longer speaks to me at all. He, at times, sends me nasty notes through the mail, actually wasting his time and energy being spiteful rather than attempting to bridge the gap, but never does he attempt an amicable encounter or resolution. We now live on opposite coasts of the states, so I really have nothing left to offer. He never answers the phone. Over the last 35+ years I have left voicemails, called him again and again and I never get an answer or a connection. I fear for his life. I fear for his emotional stability, his spiritual soundness, his soul.
I have no road left to open. No bridge to cross. I must now let go of it, fear. This is not an easy thing to do, certainly because I want to offer him what I can, to lead him to me. I don’t know what to do so I have to walk away from it. I have to force my fear to go away. It is hard to do, but there is no road left that connects between us or any foundation that a bridge can be built upon.
The title here, “Fear Resolved” is misleading at best. It is more like “Fear Ignored” but I doubt that would capture any eye.
If you have children, understand them, listen to them, even if they make no sense, even if they are angry. Consider what would work for you if you were in their place. What would you want to hear or what do you feel would work to bridge the gap if you used their ears? Offer that. Give it freely, hold nothing back. Let them have as much as they can take. You may find that they will become speechless. You may find that you have flaws that you never even realized you had. Don’t develop fears. Don’t give in to being an adult who can’t approach a young man or woman because you are just ‘too tall.’ You may find that you don’t have what it takes to be better than your child.
Listen, I have to get back to my business. I took a huge part of the day off to get this off of my chest. It has been bothering me for nearly two years, although, really for more like 40 years, but I just started writing and blogging in January of 2012, so I have been trying to put the story together for nearly two years with the intention of releasing it this way.
My blog has many followers, but all of us who blog, are aware that there are many who read us but do not comment or follow. I hope this reaches those whom I have in my heart.
Give and stop taking. Beat the fear so you can experience fear resolved.
Don’t let fear be the unspoken force that holds you back from the goals you cherish.
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