Sex. Feminism. Lesbian Werewolves.

The Fear Beyond Gratitude

Posted on Feb 3, 2011 in Writing | 1 comment

In the space just beyond gratitude lies fear.

I have often said that I would find it impossible to be a parent.  Everything about parenthood reads as tender, impermanent, fragile. I would dread each sniffle, each car ride, each solo walk home from school.

My partner and I often share this anxious fear, too, regarding each other. That because things are so good, something horrible must be lurking around the corner.

For him, it appears as the 1st act turning point.  It’s a film term that refers to the “jolt” of drama that happens in within the first 15 minutes of any film.  It’s what sends the characters on their journey, and in drama (and plenty of other genres, really), it’s devastating.  I try to mitigate his concerns by reminding him that our lives are not a movie.  We are in fact much, much more boring than that.

These ugly fears are the loudest the better things are in our relationship.
It feels not unlike my Inner Editor screaming how stupid and misguided I am, getting louder the closer I get to finding my true writer’s voice.  It’s deafening, and humbling.

Like the Inner Editor, these Fear Voices have a place.  They remind me to be humble, to treat the joy and love in my life with gratitude and reverence.
Some people personify these as demons.  Some look at them as the natural self-destructive tendencies we all have.  Some life-coaches call this the Upper Limit Problem.

The key is to notice that they’re there, appreciate them for what they offer, and tell them to respectfully shut the fuck up so you can do the work you need to do.

You have the strike the balance between pure celebration from moment to moment and getting the bills paid.  That balance looks different for everyone, and its not easy to find.  So you work and you play, and you listen to the voices when you’re strong enough to find your sense of balance.

It’s snowy on the east coast tonight.  The roads are icy and I’m edgier than I would normally be than if my honey was in bed with me.  But this is life.  It’s risky and terrifying, and the more you have, the more you have to lose.  But isn’t that better than having nothing to lose?

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  1. Jenn

    Great insight. Fears of what “might be” often get in the way of our being in the moment of our joy. I work hard to enjoy what IS and not diminish it by what MIGHT BE…but it is, indeed, hard work. Attachments bring pain and all that, but they are also part of our nature. We need others to complete ourselves, but needing others creates an inherent vulnerability.

    I’m with you on the parenthood thing. I’m too hard on myself when I get things wrong, and too selfish, to think it’s a good call for me. It seems to me a given in parenting that you *will* fuck it up, you just need to try to avoid the pitfalls you see coming and mitigate the damage that comes. I just listened to a story on this theme, that your job as a parent is not to insulate children from the possibility of pain and hurt, but to create resilient humans who can weather it.

    Thanks for all the thoughtful writing. I don’t comment often but I always enjoy reading.

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