FDR said that the "only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
I was 55 years old before I began to fully understand those words.
I had lived in a lot of fear throughout my life.
As a little kid I lived in fear of the crazy women (my mother and grandmother) who dominated my life.
Then I went in the Navy and lived in fear of them discovering my deep, dark secret. That I was attracted to other men.
Then I lived in fear of people not liking me; the fear of not being able to make money; the fear of not being successful; the fear of being successful.
And always, there was the fear of "being found out." Found out that I was a phony, that I had secrets, that I was "less than" you.
Always, always, always, there was fear. Fear of change because change meant uncertainty and I already had more of that than I could handle. Fear of being thrown out with the garbage, because that's what I truly deserved. I was just trash and I didn't want to be trash, but I was trash and would always be trash and it was only a matter of time before [fill in the name of a person or institution that really matters] found out that I was trash and would put me in my proper place, out in the trash.
I became a risk-adverse perfectionist; too afraid of failure to try anything and, if I did try anything, afraid that it would all go horribly wrong (eventually). That was true of careers, education, relationships and, above all, love. I grovelled at your feet if you showed me the least bit of attention or affection because I sure didn't deserve it. I was grateful for crumbs. I was the egomaniacal dirt beneath your feet.
It's a crippling way to live. Actually "live" is overstating the case. What I actually did was "survive." It would be fair to say that it was a crippling way to survive. Even though I did. Survive, that is.
But not without the aid of alcohol. Oceans of it. I had to numb myself to all these depressing feelings, and my old buddy alcohol was a great anaesthetic.
As I've progressed in my sobriety, though, I've found that it's okay to walk through, and experience, my fears rather than run away from them. In fact, the only way to overcome them, since they can't be mastered by will power or numbed or beaten into submission, is by learning to walk through them and, in the process, seeing them for what they really are, i.e. "paper tigers."
Lately I've started to sense that another change is coming into my life. I don't know exactly what it's going to be, but I do know that it's coming.
And rather than living with a sense of impending doom, I think I'm living with a sense of excitement about it.
This is change. This is progress. This is good!