I was once trapped in a life I hated.
I was afraid of being less than perfect. I was afraid of being rejected. I was afraid of losing, of failing, of looking stupid. I was afraid of people seeing me.
So I hid. Instead of trying to figure out who I was or what I wanted, I tried to be what other people wanted me to be.
For me, that meant trying to be pleasant, cheerful, and helpful at all times. It meant putting everyone ahead of myself. It meant being strong, no matter what. It meant trying never to make a mistake.
The problem with living that way is that when you’re not growing, you’re dying. And nobody grows while they’re trying to look good or worrying about what other people think. Only fear grows there.
Before long, I was living a life of claustrophobia. I had a prestigious, well-paying job with great benefits… which I hated. I had a marriage that others envied from the outside… which was eroding my sense of self and sapping my life force. I had a lot of friends… who I was afraid would find out what I was really like and drop me.
Everything looked perfect on the outside, but the core was rotten. If I admitted that, my perfect image would be shattered. So I didn’t admit it, even to myself.
I was afraid to be depressed, because I thought that meant something was wrong with me. I was afraid to be angry because I thought truly good people are always patient, kind, and loving. I was afraid to be selfish. I was sure that was the worst of all.
It’s hard to keep all that at bay. It got to the point where I was afraid of my own thoughts. I kept building walls, in attempt to keep all of the unacceptable stuff safely locked away. I didn’t want to know about it myself, and I sure didn’t want anyone else knowing about it.
I wish I could say that I realized what was happening, pulled myself together, and started pulling myself up by my bootstraps. That might have happened eventually, or I might have gone on as I was forever.
Instead, I had a bad allergic reaction. The doctors put me on a heavy dose of steroids, which gave me this insane manic energy. I couldn’t sleep more than three hours a night. I had all these connections in my brain that hadn’t been there before.
More importantly, my denial and bullshit factories shut down. Suddenly, the reality of my life became inescapably obvious. I was in a bad marriage that was destroying me. My house was way too expensive, and I hated the commute. I hated my job.
Basically, everything needed to change. But, at the same time, the realization came that it could change.
I wish I could say it was easy after that, but it wasn’t. It took more than three years before I managed to extricate myself completely from the last remains of that mess, including some very ugly times. But it was more than worth it in the end. Really, who cares about easy if you can have happy instead?
I think, deep down, the biggest fear I had was that if I faced reality, I would have to change my life. If I acknowledged how unhappy I was, I would have to take action and do something about it. That sounded too hard. I didn’t think I was up to it, so it seemed better to keep my head down and pretend everything was fine.
Some people spend their whole lives that way, with their world shrinking smaller and smaller all the time. How’s that for a scary thought?
I’m one of the lucky ones. I had a wake-up call, and with help, I managed to pull myself out. I created Beyond Fear to offer the same help to others.
To be honest, when I first created Beyond Fear, I thought I had conquered fear for good and would never have to see or hear from it again. I had just broken the last ties to my ex-husband, sold my house, quit my job, done a ton of things that scared me, and experienced triumph after triumph. I was high on fear-smashing and convinced I could do anything. I thought I’d never have to worry about fear again.
But that’s really not how it works. Fear is part of our biology. We never completely leave it behind. But we can learn not to let it control us or torture us. We can learn the courage to act in the face of our fear. We can learn to listen to its wisdom but decide for ourselves what we’ll do. That’s when we become the rulers of our own lives.
If you’re ready, you can join us–just click below. If you’re not sure, read on.