Fear. It paralyzes us. It oppresses us. It looms over our whole being. Fear of our future. Fear of illness and death. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. I could go on and on. Fear is something that keeps us cowering, immobile in the corner, unable to come out. It is pervasive in our disease of addiction. We fear we won’t have enough, we fear we will have too much. We fear the opinion of other and we fear our own thoughts about ourselves. Addicts and alcoholics don’t have the monopoly on fear, but we do have an unhealthy dose of it in our lives.
F.E.A.R. There are two acronyms that we use for fear in the groups I belong to. One is F*** Everything And Run, which is what I usually did. I couldn’t deal with the muddle of my life. I couldn’t handle confrontation. I didn’t even want to open the mail and I screened most of my calls. Running to my addiction gave me the illusion of safety; at least I didn’t have to deal with the stuff that was going on around me for now. I didn’t know how to face things. I didn’t know how others would react to what I was doing so I thought it better to do nothing.
The other acronym is Face Everything And Recover. This took me quite a while to understand and put into practice. To be honest, I’m still working on it. I am certainly a whole lot better at facing those fears I have about life. In facing them, I have discovered something for myself: discussed fears dwindle in size and intensity. If I talk to my sponsor or another member about what I fear, the very act of talking brings it down in size from the paralyzing monster that my brain had made it, to a manageable point of discussion that doesn’t seem so big any more. My brain makes mountains out of mole hills and tempests in teapots. Talking makes it right sized. I try to remember that it’s not the end of the world until it’s really the end of the world.
I also try to remember that fear is a product of my Ego. I want things to go my way, but they might not go that way. What then might I do? Then this will happen, then that and oh my, that surely won’t go my way either! You get the picture. I let my expectations of what I think should happen take over and fear tells me those expectations will miserably fail. Ego takes me for an unstoppable ride. Talking slows down the ride and helps me look at things realistically, not fantastically.
I also trust. I know that my Higher Power has always been there for me. I know that because I am here today. If that’s the case why would I think that my Higher Power will leave me hanging in the wind tomorrow? I will live through everything that comes my way until I don’t. I have faith that H.P. will be by my side even at that moment too. Besides, like worries, 95% of my fears have never materialized. I am finding that by living the program of recovery things have a way of working themselves out in ways that I could have never dreamed. Fears are fantasy. They don’t exist. Like the smoke and mirrors of a carnival, they have no substance. Permit me one final acronym? False Evidence Appearing Real. There is no reality in fear. It’s all in my head. It’s a future that I can neither know or predict.
We ask for courage in the Serenity Prayer. Courage is what we need when we still have fear. We go forward even though we don’t know what the next step might take us. We take the next step knowing that we have faith in whatever comes our way we will be able to handle. And we take another step in the knowledge fear is not conquering us, rather we are vanquishing it. Courage and faith conquer fear.
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