I’m afraid of abandonment. I’m not talkin’ like a little fear either. Most people are afraid to be left, or at the very least they don’t like it, but this shit for me, is the biggest fear I have. To be honest, I wish I had another biggest fear. I wish I was terrified of snakes or heights or…pretty much anything other than abandonment.
You know when you’ve had too much to drink (like wayyy too much) and you slur your speech, say things you seriously don’t mean and won’t remember later? Maybe you throw a fit, maybe you get kicked out of a bar?
You know when a toddler doesn’t get their way and they lose their minds, ransack your home, scream indecipherables, and basically go ape-shit?
That drunktoddler combo is pretty much the reaction I have when I feel like I’m going to be abandoned.
This fear makes it hard for me to trust people and to be completely vulnerable with people and to let go and to oh, I don’t know, act like even a remotely healthy human being at the end of a relationship.
You see, fear of abandonment might seem like a fear that only pops up when someone physically leaves you, but that’s not so. It’s one of those awesome (thumbs up!) fears that permeates your life, because it dictates the way you interact with all people. As an extrovert, who is both fascinated and enamored by humans, this is a really, really big pain in my ass. It has taken a lot of determination to tryyyy not to surrender to the gnawing fear inside me that repeats things like:
“Don’t trust them.”
“Don’t let them all the way in.”
“You take the dominant position. If you’re in control, you’ll be less likely to get hurt.”
“If they see all of you, they won’t get you, and they’ll leave, so protect yourself.”
Sadly, these repetitions weave themselves into a cloak that too often covers the softhearted, gregarious, beautiful woman I really am. To be fair to myself though, that cloak can’t hide all of her. The heart is magical and persistent so despite this fear, I have figured out how to have deep, meaningful, and even vulnerable relationships with many people.
Here’s the deal though: this fear isn’t who I am. That’s really important for me to say. It’s also really important for you to hear. Your biggest fear isn’t who you are either. We are not our fears. We are so much more than that. And I am disclosing this with you today, so that you know you are not alone, that it’s OK to be afraid, and that there is strength in vulnerability and honesty.
Our society generally does not define strength correctly. Strength is not force and control. Strength is being yourself in a world that makes it far too hard to do so. Strength is showing your weaknesses and getting back up and trying again. Strength is being empathetic to others when they are hurting or lashing out with hatred. Strength is forgiveness, of ourselves most importantly. Strength is learning to accept yourself and love yourself despite your fears, despite what you think are flaws.
Not loving and accepting myself exactly as I am is what is at the core of my fear of abandonment and what is at the core of most of our greatest fears. I’m afraid people will abandon me because somewhere I fear I am unlovable. That doesn’t mean that I hate or despise myself. There are many qualities I love about me, but there is often this nagging backbeat of “I’m not good enough.” I’m prettttttty sure I am not alone on this one. (I think we have an epidemic happening)
We each have our stories to validate our I’mnotgoodenoughs and all of them should be torched. Seriously, buhbye. Time to tell a new story.
I’mnotgoodenoughland can cause emotional hurt that cuts your insides up like a paring knife to a napkin, but when it eases up, there is a sacred love that arises within. And it inspires us to somehow help alleviate that pain for someone else. The best way I know how to do that is to honestly share my story and transmute heartache into pep talk.
When we speak our truth about our fears, we deflate them. When we hear others share their fears, it reminds us that we are all in this together. It reminds us that as a team, we can support one another to not only face what scares us most, but to also learn to love ourselves unabashedly, unconditionally, like a mother to her child.
We cannot love others the right way until we love ourselves. And we cannot love ourselves until we are honest with ourselves about our fears. When we name our fears, we begin the process of taming them. Notice how I didn’t say deleting them. That’s the trick. The fears are probably not going to go away. We cannot eradicate them, but we can sure as hell befriend the shit out of them. We can look that motherfucker I’mnotgoodenough in the eye and politely be like, “wanna come over for dinner?” We can treat what we think are defects like badges of honor instead. Because if we ever want to move beyond the pain that’s manifested from our fears, we have to learn to love ourselves where we are now. To move beyond drunktoddler, I gotta love drunktoddler.
Love. Duh. It was always it. It will always be it. And that love has gotta start from within. What I have learned is that you do not have to wait until you have this and this and this and this done before you are worthy of love. You do not have to hide yourself away or protect your heart so fiercely. You do not have to be embarrassed about your fears. And even if you are, you are still fucking worthy of love, right now. I don’t care what you did, who you did it to, how you said it, whatever you’re beating yourself up about, who did what to you that makes you think you’re a crappy human…
You are worthy of love right now.
I am worthy of love right now.
Forever. Always. It’s our fucking birthright.
Obviously I am still learning how to love myself. I am still learning how to become a whole, empowered, integrated person so that I don’t turn into a drunktoddler when people exit my life. I didn’t figure out all of that just now, but I am going to and you are going to work out your fears as well. (Hopefully not the drunktoddler part, unless that pertains to you too…in which case, call me? We need to discuss!)
My mom always says, “We teach best at the apex of our own learning.” I think that’s true. The best teachers are the ones that are IN IT or, as Theodore Roosevelt put it, “in the arena”. They’re all bloody and bashed up and maybe not even that interesting to listen to, or watch, but man…are they brave. I strive to be that brave and I will dedicate my life’s work to encouraging that bravery in others and being a voice (even if it shakes in fear) in the name of raw self-love.
So, be raw. Own your mess. Share your fears. Or talk directly to your fears. Or invite your fears over for a cookie. And when they get the best of you? Trust me, you are STILL worthy of love. And I promise you, you’re not alone. Even when you feel like you’re the only one in the eye of the shit storm, the truth is: you’re never alone.
You’re the bomb.com – I’m the bomb.com